I want to talk about parenthood. I was fortunate to have wonderful parents who looked past my disability and saw their daughter instead. Since birth, my parents believed in me when my doctors were quick to deny the possibility that I would have dreams, goals, and a life. To my family, I was a normal little girl who was going to attend school, participate in activities like swimming and Girl Guides, and play and fight with my siblings as any little girl would. Yes, there were learning curves that I had to face along the way, but my parents were always there to physically and emotionally support me.
But what about being a parent when you have a disability? I often find myself thinking about having a family and raising a child, an idea that a lot of people do not consider or find possible for people with disabilities. Although I fully support the idea that people with disabilities can raise children, I do not know if this is in the cards for me. I think that it is very important to be physically able to support your children, and I can not picture myself picking up my baby when nobody is around, feeding them with a bottle, changing a diaper, pushing them on a swing, or being able to help them in every way that a parent would. To me, parenting seems to be the one life choice that I feel my disability truly hinders me even when I take on other life events and activities without accepting defeat.
When I think about what kind of parent I would be if I did not have cerebral palsy, I see myself as a reflection of my parents. Whether or not my child had a disability, I would give my child opportunities to do what they love and motivate them to achieve their dreams. However, I would not give my children handouts of whatever they wanted! I am a firm believer of people earning what they are given, so my children would probably have to work as hard as I did to get what they wanted. So, imaginary children, expect chores and responsibilities. My children wouldn’t be drowning in work, though; I would make sure that they grew up in a playful household (the sarcasm would not leave just because I was a parent!).
So if you are a parent or are thinking of having children one day, please do not take this life choice for granted because some of us would love the opportunity if they had the choice. Love your kids, don’t give up on their dreams and goals, teach independence and respect, and hopefully they will grow up to raise their own children in the same way.