On my birthday several years ago, my thoughts turned to my mom. I realized at 45, my mom was three years into having a 19-year-old daughter with a spinal cord injury. She had seen me through three surgeries: a spinal fusion, removal of bladder stones, and the placement of a baclofen pump. She was watching me drive for the first time after my injury (and mandated that I have a car phone).
How did she do it?
How did she return to work two and half weeks after my injury so we could keep our health insurance? How did she manage work, physical therapy appointments, and cooking dinner? How did she handle doing my bowel program three nights each week when she had to be up early the next morning? How did she help me physically while she struggled with chronic migraines and pain? And how much did her willingness to assist me exacerbate her already-existing back problems?
My mom isn’t one to talk much about these things. She did what needed to be done. Thankfully, my dad provided for our family and my grandma moved to Louisville to lend a helping hand.
I see moms take on so much of the burden of their child’s injury. They, too, experience loss. Loss of hopes and dreams for their child’s future. The loss of a job or financial security. The loss of launching a child to college or life as an independent adult as soon as expected. And, in our case, there was no empty-nest syndrome until I moved out years after my “little” brother had married.
To all the moms of children with disabilities, thank you. We might be too wrapped up our own world of loss and chaos after our injuries to appreciate all that you do.
Mom, I hope that I never take what you did – and continue to do – for granted.
Happy Mother’s Day.