Motherhood brings with it so much anxiety and fear, I worry constantly that I’m not doing enough with or for my kids, and that I allow them too much screen time or too much sugar. But these things don’t bother me nearly as much as knowing that one day, they are likely to experience pain because of me.
The pain I’m talking about is the one that aches more than physically being hurt, it’s the emotional pain that I’m referring to.
You see, I look different – I’m not like other mums.
And let’s be honest, kids can say things that hurt. And it’s these hurtful words that I fear the most as a mother.
I was born missing my left arm. I’m now 33 years old so I’ve had many years experience with strangers passing negative comments. Or worse, when I’m the subject of their points and stares. I’m now immune to the verbal and non-verbal attacks based on my differences. I know all too well just how much it can hurt to have unwanted attention about something I have no control over.
But my children are yet to understand how utterly hurtful a person’s tongue can be.
A lack of education and awareness about disabilities often leads adults to perpetuate stereotypes unknowingly.
I’ve written many articles and blogs suggesting respectful ways in which parents can try to educate their children about the vast differences we all have, but the reality is one day, someone will say something that cuts deep, and I know there is nothing I can do to stop it.
I fear that my children will be teased or bullied because of my perceived limitations. I fear that other parents might hesitate to allow their children to spend time with mine. I fear that someone will say something so cruel or nasty that it deeply pains my children.
I’ve always said that our kids learn by what they see and hear. And therefore I believe the responsibility to educate our children about disabilities and differences, rests with us: the parents. We need to be their role models, and show them through our own actions and behaviours that people with a disability are not to be feared, we are not less than, but in fact capable and contributing human beings.
So I respectfully ask that parents consider not only their words but also their behaviour when educating their children of the many differences that exist in our world.
If you see me out and about with my kids, please don’t assume that I need your help. I can assure you that this only makes me feel inferior and teaches my children, and yours, that I need to rely on someone else because of my disability. Please ask if I need your help. I’ll let you know if I do. All mums need help at some stage, but asking me allows me to retain my voice.