Yesterday was a crazy day. Oliver likes to say I was at my wedding. Not sure where he got that but I kinda love it.
It was a big day for me, so he was on the right track I guess...
I stood in front of a bunch of strangers seated along with 22 of my favorite family members and friends (you know who you are...xoxo) and read a letter I wrote to Oliver.
It carried a similar message to the stories I share on my blog. But hiding behind my laptop is much safer than on a stage, with a spotlight on my face.
The experience was an honor, pushed me to new limits and in the end I loved every second.
I totally encourage you to audition for the 2014 LTYM in your city.
Below is the piece I read. The YouTube video should be up soon.
My Life as a Disabled Mommy
In my life as Oliver's mom, I feel like I can't keep up. In my journey as a disabled mom, there are days when I long to skip ahead a few years. But despite the challenges and occasional tears, I am forever blessed.
Yep, I use crutches to walk. This may sound weird, but I often forget. When I dream, I never have them. My body is strong. It doesn't cross my mind until someone on the street or in an elevator asks "How'd you break your leg?"
Looking back, my life before you was pretty easy.
It was on St. Patrick's Day, when I peed on the stick and saw the results. I was excited, I was scared. I was mad. There were still things I wanted to do. I mean I felt a crazy love for you, but guilt, too – because I wasn't 100 percent excited that you would be camping out in my belly for nine months.
Throughout my life, I became comfortable with my disability, Formy life story, it made sense. But that didn't mean that I didn't desperately want you to be normal.
Months passed and my belly grew. I would sit in your bedroom and pray to the heavens above that you would be born with a strong body. Hands that could bend straight. Legs strong and sturdy enough to run and jump and dance their way through life. I wanted you to be able to flex your ankles if you wanted to, and give high fives when life called for it. And I wanted you to know how insanely lucky you are to go through life without physical limitations.
It's taken me a whole life to learn how to find a way. I mastered things in my time. Have you was scary. You were little, so small,helpless, and needed me.
We figured things out together. When I was slow changing your diaper and you screamed, I would just cry along with you. When we were home alone without daddy and I wanted to go to another room, I'd stick you in the stroller and take you along. I asked those who cared for you to not stand and rock you. I was afraid that you would grow used to that and I wouldn't be able to soothe my baby.
That would break my heart.
During your baby months, we called you "Angel Baby." You were so easy, I like to think you knew mommy was different and wanted to help her. But as the toddler smarts started to brew in, things changed. You became opinionated. And you noticed things.
Your dad was the one to carry you and give airplane rides. He was the one to scoop you up when you got hurt and the one with the strong arms that carried you to the car after a long day at day care. No one held a candle to "Dada."
Some things you never think about, until they happen. One morning I went to get you out of your crib. You shook your head and crawled to the far corner – away from me – and said over and over "no, no, no. Dada."
It made me so sad.
I carried you for nine months.
I prayed over you in my belly for 270 days.
I devoted a year to nursing you.
I tell you every day that you are perfect.
I was the one who shed tears on your first day of day care.
I am your mommy!!
It's not fair.
But you're noticing things. The other morning I was fixing your hair and you grabbed my hand and just stared at it. You then poked my wrist, where it stays bent and said, "mama."
Then you smiled at me.
I almost cried.
That night, I went to give you a bath and you leaned against me and let me fight my way down the row of tiny little buttons on your shirt. I was halfway down when you looked at me with your big eyes and said, "mama stuck." You know more than we think.
And you keep learning.
You know you can out run me.
You know I can't carry you away when you act up.
You run to the other side of the car now, wanting me to chase you.
When you've had enough of my kisses, you brush me away, saying "no no no."
But then we have moments.
Nights like this.
We were all home after a long day at work, the weather was perfect. The leaves were floating down from the trees and filled our street with color.
You started walking down the sidewalk and grabbed dada's hand. Then you held out your hand to me, looked at me with big blue eyes, and invited me join you.
But I can't walk and hold your hand like that. I can't hold my crutches and your hand, too.
In that moment, my heart shattered.
I would have given everything to take your hand and walk with you. I want so desperately for you to understand why.
A few days later, as I got into an elevator, a man holding the door open for me said, "Uh oh. That doesn't look happy."
That doesn't look happy.
In the end, how we feel is up to us.
Yes, life with a weak body stinks.
Crutches are annoying.
I can't do all the things I want to do.
I hate asking for help.
But I also have learned this… we are all given a hand of cards in life. How we choose to play our hand is up to us. You can dwell on the bad cards or embrace your pair of eights.
And I hope that having me as your mommy will make you a better person.
So love yourself, Oliver. Be your own biggest cheerleader. You can do anything. Take small steps and it pieces together, in the right time. You just have to get off that chair. Laugh at yourself. Never lose that twinkle in your eye.
And know your mama is not done kissing you yet.