Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I will carry her.

(This was written a few years back when my kids were younger.)

Sometimes I get lost in parenting. Hopeless buried under the daily responsibilities, the drudging chores of day to day functioning. All too frequently I have hit the end of the day to discover I never had a moment to brush my teeth or even comb my hair. I will look at the exhausted woman in the mirror with messy hair under her bandanna  and wonder if she will have the strength to keep going.

I have been blessed with having a chosen family to hone my parenting skills on, before I had one of my own.

(Back ground info. I lived on a farm with a woman and her three daughters for 15 years prior to marriage. In that time the three daughters all had children. I am Auntie Pasta to 5 wonderful souls. KSS, LW, JEH, JWJS and JK. They lived off an on at the farm but always close. I was always there for these children. They could count on me to be there and do my best to help them, to guide them to tell them the truth.. I taught them to fish, camp, gun safety, etc. I involved them in my life and we talked and talked about life.)

When the lot of us went on long drives we would talk and I would in part to them all my knowledge about life. The five of us would get into deep discussions and debates. I repeated lectures over and over and over again. Most time I felt it was landing on deaf ears.

Always told them: " you can tell me anything,  but if I think your mom needs to know what you shared with me I will tell her, or we can tell her together."

Oh the things they shared with me. Dazzling even today.

KSS was the closest to me. Born with cerebral palsy and a "you can't stop I come, attitude".  Her 16 year old mama took to working at the doctor office to pay off her debt to him. I worked nights and so did grandma. We took turn giving up sleep to stay up and watch her. I was there before she was born, I was there as she was born, I was there...I'm still there for her.

So many battles and struggles in getting her properly diagnosed. She couldn't walk at 2 1/2 years old. One orthopedic doctor had the gall to say "If you wouldn't carry her so much she would learn to walk."

We new something was wrong. Grandma and I diagnosed her as having cerebral palsy when she was 6 months old. She was almost three before we got her diagnosed and helped. What a wretched day that was. Drove all the way to Shiners hospital in Portland in a rickety old car that kept over heating. Stress levels high. You don't want to find out you child has brain damage...even if you already know. So many tears that day.

We left Shriners dazed and spent. Still unsure if KSS would ever be able to walk, or even what the future held for her.

We stopped by the Enchanted Village on the way home. An unscheduled stop, we all just needed to for a moment escape into fantasy and drown out those words ringing in our ears " brain damage, cerebral palsy, may never walk, return for braces and further treatment."

Her mama was pushing KSS in her stroller and I was walking a few feet behind thinking how much, and deeply I love this little girl. When through the noise of the crowds a mans voice cut through. "she wouldn't be such a fat tub of lard if they let her walk."

I followed his gaze.

He was starring at my child.

To this day that is the closest I have ever came to killing another human being in a blinding rage of anger. His mean hurtful words unleashed a ferocious monster with in me.

Grandma grabbed me as I lunged towards the him with full intent to crack his head open on the pavement. I wanted to put my hands around his neck and scream "YOU SHOULD BE SO THANKFUL THAT YOUR CHILDREN CAN WALK!!!!!" as I slammed his head repeatedly into the pavement.

That pain of that day is deeply, deeply etched in my heart. There was enough pain and destruction without that *&&^%# adding anymore.

She held me until he past. Then she stooped down and got KSS and put her in my arms. I stood there shaking with anger. Finally finding my voice I sobbed, "I will carry her no matter what. Where ever she wants to go I will carry her. I will be her legs so she can go and do anything she wants to do."

I will carry her.

And I did.

She learned to walk when she was three. I never let her use her Cerebral palsy as an excuse to not do things or try things. She hiked the tressloop trail in the redwoods. She hiked the lavabeds and explored caves. If her legs hurt we waited for her. If she needed help I carried her piggy back. Always told my kids,,,our party is only as strong as our weakest link. The learned to watch out and help each other...if they took the time to help each other we could stay out longer doing fun things.

People would stare at her awkward gate and braces on her legs. She hated that. I told her "KSS just tell them, if it bothers you."

She soon began telling staring strangers "Stop staring, I have Zebra-l Palsy! Just ask me about it."

Oh my little cherub with Zebra Palsy, you made my heart sing so  many times. It was an honor to be in your light.

A few years ago, when KSS went to Germany as an exchange student, she called me. She didn't call her mother to share that moment with....she called me.

'P!!" She squealed "Guess where I am!!" Her excitement buzzing through the phone.

"Jail?" I joked.

She laughed and began to describe where she was. The whole of Germany was at her feet as she stood on a castle atop a mountain. The clear blue sky allowed her an breath taking 360 panoramic view of the world. To get there she had to walk up nearly a mile of steep crumbly stone steps. The teacher didn't want her to try the climb, she did it anyways. In her excited description of the climb I began to hear my own words being parroted back to me. She was quoting one of my many life lectures back to me.

and in that heart beat

my job as parent was over. She didn't need me to carry her anymore, she had grown wings and was flying.

So on days when I wake exhausted and already 4 hours behind and the kitchen is a mess and there are 1,000,000 things to do and there are no clean bowls for breakfast and the kids are fighting over the jump rope and I need to pack Corey's lunch and work is IMing me and I feel like the worst mama/wife/employee/person on the planet. I will stop for a fraction of a second and remember that phone call and how my heart lightened...then realize my heart is so heavy right now because I am carrying my family in it. It will get lighter as they grow and sprout their own wings. And it gives me the strength to keep going.


  1. Really related to this story. It has many similarities to my own son Zac with CP who is almost 4 and still can't walk yet. From the diagnosis to other peoples comments. Thank you for sharing.

    1. That whole experience changed me. Brought me from where I was in life to a slower place. A place where nothing mattered but the moment. To dynamically change me from expecting this and that in her development to ....just being greatful for what was. To learn to accept what is and what will never be.
      And to do it all with the chaos around us of PT, OT and AFOs and Ortho docs and evals and on and on. I grew tremendously as a person because of her.