Happy Mother’s Day!

There are many moms that have had their dreams interrupted by having children who need special care. I am one of them. Born in the 50’s, moms and dads didn’t have the support systems that are available today both online and in-person. Julie Keon was totally surprised after the birth of her baby girl to find out that her daughter was severely disabled and that she required almost 24 hour care. Despite the difficulty, the mother-daughter relationship taught Julie lessons that she needed to learn. Though the road is difficult, she has been able to encourage other parents and has written a book called “What I Would Tell You”.

When I was growing up, I had fun playing with dolls, but I think I remember asking my mom how I would diaper a baby. I think she said “we’ll figure it out” but I don’t think she thought I ever would.

Many people think people with disabilities cannot have children, so I surprised a lot of them, including myself! At this stage in my life I look back and think, “how did this happen?” How did my daughter actually get to be 28? How did my mom survive motherhood and how did I?

There were a lot of things that I couldn’t do as a mom, but my mom was one of my cheerleaders. She put Velcro on Rachael’s baby clothes and helped me ride the waves of new motherhood. Friends from Good Samaritan Ministries and my friend Colleen were instrumental in helping us survive. Colleen drove us places, planned birthday parties, everything I wanted to do as a mother but couldn’t. Rather than having my disability limit me, my world was expanded because I formed a network of people that were willing to join me on this journey.

One of the most amazing events happened 10 months ago, when I became a Grandma. My granddaughter is truly a reward for persevering the challenges of motherhood.

So on this Mother’s Day I want to thank my Mother for all she’s done for me and encourage other Mothers of children with special needs because I know that the road can be hard but there are rewards ahead. I would encourage any families that are going through this process to find good support systems through family, friends or community organizations such as Joni and Friends.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mother and Daughter!

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Celebrations in May

prom

There are always kids that don’t get to go to prom. I could have been one of those kids, but instead of staying home, three days before the prom, I asked a boy to take me! I probably put the poor guy on the spot when I asked him, but he said he would! I was thrilled, but it also put my mom in a tailspin because we lived in the country, and she had to drive 40 miles to the store to buy fabric to make my dress!

I think that was my favorite memory of prom; how my mother made me look like a princess. The prom itself was a fun night, and I was happy to be there with my friends. I went to a small high school so everyone knew each other and it was fun to be included.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook from my friend, Karla, about a work party that she was having to prepare for a prom that would be held for kids affected by disability in the Portland area. I knew I wanted to get involved, so my friends and I went to a couple of work parties to help make some decorations for the ‘Candy-land’ theme they had this year. At the work party, I was reluctant to paint, because I can’t even write very legibly, but after sitting there for about 20 minutes, I decided to try. Lo and behold, even though I couldn’t paint exactly in the lines, there were others to help touch up what I started and I helped move the projects along faster.

As I get ready to go to the prom on Friday night, I wondered, “What will I be able to do to help tonight?” As soon as we got there, my friend and I found ourselves sitting at the registration table signing everyone into the prom, and although I couldn’t write, I gave instructions on how people needed to fill out the form. ┬áIt was a great place to be because we got to see everyone come in all decked out and so excited to be at their prom! Later I found out that one of the organizers had been wondering all day who would be at the registration table. It was great to feel needed as well as see everyone dance and have a great time!

Sometimes taking the chance to get involved can be a little scary because you always face the possibility of rejection or failure. My mother and the many mothers that helped put together the prom this Friday have another thing in common with me, because we saw opportunities to meet kids’ needs and we got involved. Seeing the needs of our kids makes us go beyond our comfort zone and though it can be a little scary, it can bring so much joy!