Reading this post today on dooce.com made me think of my own fears about the ways my kids would interpret my physical difference. In the last paragraph of her post, Heather talks about her daughter noticing the mole in the center of her forehead and how this mole–what Heather had perceived as a flaw–has become secret sign between her and her daughter.
When I first realized I was pregnant I wondered how my children would perceive me–would they see a mother who was “less than whole?” Would the resent the fact that I wouldn’t be able to run and jump and play with them in the same way as other mothers do? Some days, when I wanted to teach them to skip rope, or to ride a bike, I agonized. I felt so awful that I couldn’t do such things.
One day when my son was about 5 years old I asked him why he thought it was that we sometimes parked in handicapped parking spots–did he think think that someone in our family was disabled? He thought for a moment and then replied:
“Well, Mom, I suppose it’s because you wear glasses.”
After I giggled a bit at his response and questioned him further, I realized that he thought that all Moms had legs that could “come off,” that all Moms were amputees. Though it was only a little while later that he figured out that I was unique, neither he nor his sister have ever whined or complained about my limitations. Sometimes they even “mother” me–worrying if I”ve been walking too far or if my stump is irritated. When I get pressure sores, my daughter is often the first to comfort me.
I feel so lucky to have such wonderful kids, and while I would love to be able to do all things “normally,” I suspect that because of some of my limitations, many interactions with my children are all that much more precious. For example, when we went swimming together on Saturday it was pure joy to race with them, to be able to swim fast, jump high, dive deep, etc. When we pulled ourselves out of the pool and I retrieved my crutches from a nearby beach chair, I think that I savored the thrill of swimming so much more because it was an unusual gift of freedom.