over the past year or so, i've been able to get to know a great young lady from one of a sister church. this summer, as we were enjoying an evening ice cream cone, i learned that she has known disability her entire life. below is a (very) brief note from her on what it was like to be kelsey, growing up with a mom who is a quadriplegic:
My mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 19 - as it progressed, the paralyzation crept from the legs up. My mom had me at the age of 34. By that time, she had a lot of weakness in her arms and her legs were completely immobile. At the time, having a mom that couldn't do as much as others physically didn't come as a surprise to me being that this condition was all I had known. It was more less second nature. So helping extra around the house was something that came to mind as a "my mom can't do this physically. Therefore its my job."
My dad worked third shift most of my childhood. So getting my mom into bed quickly became our responsibility. My brother is only two years older than me. So we learned to work together. Kids at school would often ask questions such as "why is your mom in a wheelchair?" or "why can't she feed herself?" It was difficult, I'll admit, but it got to a point where explaining as best we could was all that we could do. Everyone was accepting. Friends that came over acted as if nothing was wrong and helped her as if they were her own child.
Like I said growing up everything was so natural. Because Tyler and I were young and in school while my dad was at work, my mom has a home nursing agency come in. We've had many caregivers all of which were absolutely amazing. So we learned to adapt quickly to new people and to be accepting. I learned quickly that simple things such as feeding my own self, my mom couldn't do. It gave us so many reasons to be thankful for - things that are easily overlooked.
All in all, my brother and I had to become independent and grow up really fast. It was a good thing though - I learned how to balance a check book,write checks, pay bills. Tyler has learned many things to maintain a household as a guy.
Now,10 years later I look back and it seems crazy to me. Crazy in a way that I saw my mom as if she didn't even have a disease. Crazy that I was so focused on other things that I could overlook a paralyzing disease that to others may seem quite evident. I don't ever remember my mom holding me or hugging me as a child because I was too young to remember. And, I'll be honest, it hurts. Its weird to me that I've never seen my mom walk, never had her drive me anywhere - simple things that other little kids experienced. Looking back it makes me sad, but I am so very very thankful to have a mother figure in my life...Yeah, her limbs didn't work and I couldn't physically feel her embrace, but I knew for a fact that she loved Tyler and I more than anything. And that is an amazing realization to come to. People sometimes find different things that we do to accommodate her needs and conformities odd or out of the ordinary. But we accommodate. It's just everyday ordinary here at our home. If you sit back and let all of this set in, you'll understand when I say that my mom's disability was of no burden but an utmost blessing to the lives of many.
i am so thankful to have heard from kelsy - as ian and i pray for our future family members, it is so wonderful to hear from someone who knows what it's like to be raised by a parent who is 'different' but who is so, so dear and is an incredible mom.