by Melissa Longshore
I went to hang up pictures in the library for Exceptional Children’s Week and I was stopped by someone who wanted to know if I worked for the school system. I said, “No, I am just a mom.” However, once those words left my lips, I realized how untrue they were. Since my boys have cerebral palsy, I will NEVER have the opportunity to be just a mom. I will always be MORE than a MOM.
I will be my boys’ Physical Therapist. I will stretch and push their little bodies to the max, all while hoping that my efforts are not in vain.
I will be an Explorer searching through the vast horizon of possibilities, looking for answers to questions that have yet to arise.
I will be a Doctor that rivals the best with knowledge of most medical terminology and an understanding of its applications.
I will be the Navigator of a schedule that has to be seen to be truly appreciated. Where every day is filled to the minute with something that needs to be done.
I will be an Advocate for quality medical care and more educational resources.
I will be a Warrior fighting against the word can’t.
I will be the Chef of semi-decent cuisine because my time is valuable.
I will be an Athlete, pushing the chair and lifting the weight.
I will be a Caretaker, feeding meals and handling bodily needs.
I will be a Crusader for more compassion and acceptance.
I will be a Chauffeur on the road to one of many destinations that will help my children: speech, occupational therapy…
I will be a Researcher of the untried and the alternative, in hopes that something discovered today will benefit all tomorrow.
I will be a Farmer, planting seeds of hope to help other parents with children like mine.
I will be a Nurse, administering medication and gauging the results.
I will be a Builder of a home to fit their needs.
I will be a Visionary of what will be and could be, not what is.
I will be a Technology Guru with a vast understanding of all forms of technology that help those with physical limitations: augmented communication devices, adaptive toys and computer programs.
I will be a Teacher to others, making them aware of cerebral palsy and its effects.
I will be a Mountain Climber, motivating my children to stretch past their limitations and to climb to new heights.
I will be a Hoarder of equipment, understanding the value of each piece and how it is needed to make my son’s life more functional in our home.
I will be a Preacher telling all that one’s faith/belief system/God is powerful and able to get you through the most difficult and challenging aspects of your life.
I will be a Meteorologist trying to identify future storms in the hopes of avoiding them.
I will be a Nurturer, comforting my children when they fall, need support or are hurt by the harsh reality of how they will function in this big world.
I will be a high-powered Negotiator at IEP meetings.
I will be a Money Manager finding ways to make the dollar stretch, and having a great understanding of how insurance and government waivers work to help those with disabilities.
I will be a Comedian, laughing when others would cry.
I will be a Thrill-Seeker, searching for ways to include adventure/fun in our lives, while running on coffee and adrenaline, yet living life to the fullest despite any challenges.
I will be an Investor in the promises of tomorrow, while reaping the small rewards of today.
I will be a Conductor orchestrating the operations of my family.
I will be a Writer, writing about all of this.
Yes, I am the CEO of this and so much more.
So, you see, as a result of cerebral palsy, I guess I will always be more than a mom. I will not be better or worse than the typical mother. I will have the same virtues and shortcomings. Yes, I will be the same in so many ways as others—possessing the same hopes and dreams for my children, but undeniably different.
I guess I will be special too—just like my children.
There are times when I wish I could be “just a Mom,” too.
However, most days, I love being More than a Mom because the rewards are great. I have gained greater insights about what is important in life and what is not. I appreciate the simple things. I see value in every milestone. I see the beauty in just being, not what one has or is capable of achieving.
I see the power of people. How someone so small (a child with cerebral palsy) can impact my world and so many others’ worlds in a positive way. I feel I am not alone because there are many, many More than a Moms just like me. Their children are not defined by their challenges. These are moms and children who choose to supersede their circumstances.
No, I don’t work…I don’t get paid. However, I have many jobs. I possess Master’s degrees in Noah (moderate-severe CP) and Ethan (mild CP). I guess that this is the only way I can articulate what cerebral palsy means to me.
It makes me More than Just a Mom.