August is always the month celebrating women and their achievements. Fabulous functions are held to celebrate the achievements of women in politics, sport, churches and communities, but how often do we remember women living with different abilities and special needs? In celebrating the privileges of womanhood there is hardly any special dedication to women who have children with disabilities and who know how it hurts when realizing that her child will never be able to play and enjoy life like others do.
Being a mother AND being disabled has special demands. They cannot always push their own child in a pram, and the strangers who always want to look at babies in prams never guess that the baby belongs to the woman in the wheelchair. Disabled mom’s quite often cannot carry babies like other mothers do: they use a sling while being pushed in a wheelchair; they will never be able to run after their child, but it’s not all a challenge because their children are often far more independent at a young age.
A blind woman faced the potential of having a disabled child, as well as the challenge of not being able to see whether her baby’s bottom was properly wiped when changing nappies. Isolation for disabled mom’s becomes reality because one is busy with the children all the time. Going to toddler groups can be awful as a blind mom cannot make eye contact to start conversations with the other moms so she will often feel excluded. New challenges arise when a disabled mom’s children goes to school as her children now have to be driven around which could be challenging without the right support structure.
Mothers of disabled children deserve special medals as they often neglect themselves during the endless quest to help their children. Mothers often have to leave what they are busy with to rush off and help their child with special needs. This will often put a lot of stress onto a mother in a working environment where there is possibly a lack of understanding around the challenges of everyday life when caring for a child with a disability. There are only small and fleeting moments for rest during her day.
Mothers of disabled children often first have to deal with their self-blame for their child’s disability, they need to learn not to compare their child to other children and get to a point where they stop focusing on what their child can’t do. Mothers of disabled children need to reach a point where all they see are the positive attributes of their child realising that their disabled child will bloom in his/her own time.
The key is to plan ahead, and be easy on yourself as a mother. Just as much as such mothers need somebody to talk to about their role as mother, it is just important to talk about other things. Somebody with a disabled child summed it up so well: “When you become the parent of a child with special needs, you discover the grandparents don’t understand, your neighbours don’t understand, even your friendships change. But someone who was a total stranger becomes your life link”. Mothers with children with disabilities should look at their jobs, nurture their own health and do not neglect friendships – seek happiness.
We salute women with disability and those with children with disability. They are often not acknowledged and granted the praise they deserve.
Behind the scenes: Orion Organisation NPC has been creating futures for those with disabilities through the provision of theraputic and development services for over 3 decades. For more information and support contact Orion Organisation NPC
Tel 021 5728490/1