Disabled mum Marie started blogging for Scope a year ago when her son Mark was just a few months old. Here, as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign, Marie explains the rare prejudices her family faces, and the unexpected joys of being a mum in a wheelchair.
Mark is 14 months old and is developing wonderfully in every way. Everything was absolutely fine at his one year check and the health workers told us ‘whatever you are doing, just keep doing it!’ Mark is getting extremely heavy, strong and big and as such I am now unable to move him myself. This can be quite frustrating, especially when we are out in public. For instance, if Mark needs picking up out of his buggy, I simply cannot do this and either my husband or PA (personal assistant) has to do this.
I often see people looking and although they don’t say anything I get the feeling they are sometimes thinking ‘why did they have a baby when she can’t do anything for him?’ But perceptions can be deceptive! Okay, so I can’t lift Mark now but we always knew this time would come – it was inevitable and something I have touched on in previous blogs. I can still do so much with him – I can feed him, bath him, play with him, talk and sing to him. Pretty soon he won’t need lifting anyway and will learn to walk beside my wheelchair. Now is just the tricky period between him being too heavy to lift and being fully mobile himself.
I try not to focus on not being able to lift Mark because that is what my PA is employed for and I prefer to focus on the positive things I can do. One thing that really frustrates me is being out in (for instance) a café and seeing parents glued to their mobile phones, totally ignoring their offspring. We never do this and in fact have so much time for Mark. I’m able to sit with him while my PA -or hubby! – go up and order the cups of tea at the counter at the café. I’m able to play with Mark whilst my PA is doing the housework. How many parents can say that? There are benefits to being a mum in a wheelchair!
Being a small mum in a wheelchair has its pros and cons. When Mark sits next to me he is now actually taller than me, but being a small mummy means I can hide in his play tent with him! It does of course feel a bit awkward with Mark being taller than me but he knows who mummy is and always responds to me. It can be frustrating that I can’t cradle him anymore but we find other ways to cuddle. When he is teething or poorly he lays on my legs on the sofa and we snuggle together nicely. I rub his face and he grips onto my hand, it’s adorable!
My disability has taught me some important life skills – patience and how to make effective use of time! I will always find ways to do things with my boy and time is something he will always have from me. My disability has slowed life down for me physically, but this is perfect for allowing me to give Mark all the time in the world.