For three decades I had limited use of my arms and legs due to Spastic Diplegia, Cerebral Palsy. The idea of completing simple tasks baffled me. As I’d swing at recess in elementary school, I’d watch my classmates chase one another, kick a football without falling on their face or jump rope and I’d wonder How do they do that? Then as a mom, I would hear parents complain about their long list of chores and I’d think to myself I would give anything to be a more involved parent. As many of you are aware, five years ago I got a new diagnosis (Dopa Responsive Dystonia), new medication and a new lease on life. These days, I still hear parents complain about their long list of chores, but now I think I’m so glad I CAN do those things and be grateful for each and everyone of them. That’s why I decided to make a list of what many people think of as nuisances, but I consider a wonderful gift.
Put clean sheets on a bed ….this once incredibly frustrating job took me so long that I rarely did it myself. Instead, mom would do it for me, something that a 30 year old should be able to do for herself.
Bake cupcakes, cookies, homemade bread and bars (yes, I’ve gained a few pounds since my correct diagnosis). My cakes always looked pathetic and would never be served to company. Now, I bake and decorate cakes from scratch and get asked, “What bakery did you get this from?”
Drive my daughters to basketball practice, Girl Scouts, school, orthodontist appointments, doctor appointments, church classes, friends houses, etc. I can walk them into each one of these places. Yes, it’s more time consuming, but I’m able to build friendships with other mom’s now. Days of feeling alone are no longer.
Exercise….I had been going to the gym since I was 14. It was something that I HAD to do to maintain muscle and I was fortunate that my mom was always willing to help me with, even as an adult. Now, I can go on walks with freinds or even attend Yoga classes at the gym! Yoga is one of my favorites because I love to challenge myself and see how I continue to improve. Every class puts a smile on my face as I think to myself this would have been IMPOSSIBLE before.
Ride Roller Coasters…back in the day, my body would have been in knots after something so fast and scary, but these days I CAN do it! Granted, I don’t like them and don’t quite understand why my girls love them so much, but at least I was able to try it and can cross it off my list!
I can tuck my son into bed at night…Because I couldn’t do this with my daughters, I felt like a failure as a mother. Now, when I kiss by toddlers' forehead before leaving his room, I tear up thinking How did I get so lucky do be able to do this every single night?
Household chores…Before my new life I could only do one chore a day and felt like my house was never clean unless my mom came to help or my husband did it. Being able to clean a toilet without fearing of falling face first into the bowl is a relief! Being able to load the dishwasher without pain surging through my toes is a gift! And being able to wash the close that my kids are physically capable of getting so dirty while playing outside is a blessing.
Grocery Shopping and other errands…I always had to be driven to the store and then helped onto my mobility scooter to complete the chore that most dread to do. Being a young women riding up and down the isles caused plenty of stares and sympathy smiles that I never got used to . Now, as I shop, I blend in with all the other customers and think they have no idea what my life used to be like.
My list could go on and on. I am beyond grateful for my new found mobility and it doesn’t bother me that I still have days where my balance is an issue or the knots in my back seem unbearable. But, I still love each and every day and am thrilled that I don’t have to deal with all those issues of the past ,because I have my independence, something that many people don’t have! So, please, take a look at my list and ask yourself do I ever complain about cooking for my family, running errands on a daily basis or cleaning the house? If the answer is Yes, remind yourself that those annoyances are something that others pray for. I know this, because I used to be one of them.