Parenting with Disabilities

Every day the Instagram algorithm feeds me posts and graphics about what it takes to be a good parent, or how to identify a bad parent.

And as I read the lists, I feel nothing but shame:

Don’t yell.

Be physically and emotionally present all the times.

Make sure you are taking time to get what you need.

Be gentle with your kids.

Ask for help.

Don’t argue in front of your kids.

Don’t send your kids to their rooms.

Don’t do too much screen time.

Don’t lose your temper….

There apparently is not an in-between.

You either get it right… or you get it completely wrong.

Do you know who all of this advice does NOT apply to?

Moms with disabilities raising children with disabilities.

Why? Because all of this advice is usually based of neurotypical mothers who have access to supports financially, physically, and physiologically.

Moms with disabilities may not have access to the same supports.

Our bodies may not work the same or have the same abilities.

Our brains may be wired, function, or damaged which makes them function differently.

I cheerfully announce to people that I am the world’s OKAYEST Mom.

Because that is what I am.

I am a Mother with both physical and neuro disabilities with trauma.

I lose my temper because my amygdala is smaller, have hit sensory overload, or autistic burnout.

I say nasty things when my brain hits Hulk mode because my brain bypassing the pre-frontal cortex and I can’t think before I speak.

Before diagnosis and intense therapy, I’ve been an abusive mom. I’ve hit, spanked, and more when I’ve gone into fight or flight mode.
I send them to their rooms and put them in time-away when I need them to stop what they are doing because they are harming someone, or I want to harm them.

I put the screen on for whole days when they or I am triggered, in overload mode, burnt out, or my physical disability is experiencing an autoimmune reaction.

These are things I cannot change about my brain and body.
I am a Mom with disabilities.

BUT.

I also am an incredibly attuned parent because I have a hypervigilant and notice things other people don’t.
I always do the follow up work sitting with my kids apologizing, mending, and bonding when I lose my temper because I know I am responsible for my actions.
I always explain why I chose a discipline to our children because I want them to know why it was chosen depending on where our brains and bodies were all physiologically at.
I spend hours snuggling with my kids when I am in pain or experiencing burnout because if the least I can do is lay there and watch TikTok… then at least I am there. I have four different parenting toolboxes for each of my kids because all four of them are massively diverse in their disabilities, trauma, and physical needs. That’s SKILL.


We educate our kids on our family’s disabilities, why we function differently, the good, the bad, the ugly. This is normal every-day conversation for us. Because being disabled is not shameful. It is not bad. Having disabilities does not need to determine our worth as humans and certainty not as parents.

Parenting expectations are created for “the perfect storm” of accessibility economically, physically, physiologically, and systematically.

Lists… graphics… pamphlets… expert advice… professional advice… medical advice… all of it given from this space of accessibility is ableist.

Those of us who parent with disabilities need to take parenting expectations with a grain of salt. We need to find our own community of disabled parents. We need to find our own methods of support. We need to call out ableism in the accessibility of parenting supports. We need to reject the idea that an OKAY parent is a bad parent. And if we can’t show up for our kids in the way they need us to, we need to be able to have access to that support without shame, judgement, or consequences.


I am the world’s OKAYEST Mom. I parent with disabilities. One moment you will see my eyes bulging out of my head as my brain loses control and I scream at my kids. Five minutes later you will see me under a tangled pile of bodies snuggling, attuning, bonding, and laughing at our stupid punny jokes.

My disabilities aren’t going anywhere. Neither are my kid’s disabilities.

And I wouldn’t want them to.

Because we are the weirdest herd you have ever seen.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Over Dramatic

My whole life I have been called “over-dramatic.” (As healed adult I can see there was some truth there. I am a Sagittarius, enneagram four, extrovert, comedian who has a slight bend towards attention seeking behavior.)
I have also been called a prophet. A truth teller. A no bullshitter. A “call it like it is” person. I’ve been called real and raw.
As I grow, heal, and connect with other adoptees and those who have experienced childhood trauma, I realize that “over-dramatic” was a gaslighting term used to silence our ability to see truth that those around us were/are not ready to face within themselves. This is why prophets and truth-tellers find themselves called “black sheep” or “over-dramatic.”This is why Jesus was rejected by his very own. Today I know a lot of us want to scream, “I TOLD YOU SO!” I’ve been receiving DM after DM with stories of grief as the family truth-tellers are being blacklisted, ostracized, discounted, excluded, gaslit, or all together ignored by their own families. SO many adoptees adopted by white evangelicals are facing rejection, abandonment, and disconnection. SO many have now lost not one set of parents, but two.
The internet has done something wonderful. It has allowed us to connect, to be awakened, and it has exposed what prior generations where trying to hide when they called us “over-dramatic.” The internet turned the light on in the dark recesses of America. It has given those of us who were called “over-dramatic” credibility.
It also has left the generations prior, who worked so hard to silence, exposed.
I don’t have perfect answers for all of you who’ve come into my DMS in grief because you are re-living the trauma of abandonment. We shouldn’t have to walk through this again. It’s unjust. Adoptees are living the reality that adoption is not restorative. But I have this small piece that holds those gaslighting you accountable in grace:Instead of screaming, “I TOLD YOU SO!”, let us turn the tables and ask, “Am I being over-dramatic, or is what I am saying stirring up discomfort within you?” While it may not restore relationships, it’s a healthier response that allows our adult self to protect our child self.

The Damn Audacity

Someone told me I was prettier with makeup.
Someone told me that I had big ears.
Someone told me that I looked terrible in yellow.
Someone told my my skin was too aged and my nose too crooked.
Someone wouldn’t date me because my hair was short.
Someone manipulated me into 110 dateable pounds.
.
Yet. Here I am.
Wearing some of those things and not wearing others.
And I haven’t disappeared off the face of the Earth.
.
Worth is not a spectrum.
Value is not a commodity.
.
The real intergenerational trauma is that for millennia these things have been commoditized and the American Dream is just another tactic of evil to fuse patriarchal capitalism into our core beliefs sold in the package of a toxic faith cultures. They are so ingrained in us we see them as reality and truth as they fester decay in our souls.
.
But here I am.
On the other side.
Defying so much of what was taught to me through generations of good people who were just as duped as me.
.
My worth is in that I am who I am.
My worth is that nothing else except my very existence reflects God.
.
Not what I give or take. 
Not even my gifts or talents. 
Not my gender or my sex.
Not my dos and do nots. 
Not the Ten Commandments.
Not fast fashion or what I eat.
Not the form of my body or it’s level of smoothness.
Not whether or not I had sex before marriage or actually got married. 
Not whether or not I meet the list of expectations from parents or society or my faith.
.
Worth and value are a fixed point in time when God created man and said it is good. God saw the beginning and the end of humanity even the human judged the least valuable by other humans is still declared good.
.
I refuse to conform…
I refuse to sit in a system…
I refuse to sit in a faith culture…
I refuse to sit with any industry…
I refuse to sit with an American Dream…
I refuse to sit with any evil that places the worth and value of a human on a spectrum that makes us disconnected with being who we are.

It’s the audacity for me.
The audacity that someone or something else thinks they can place value, worth, control and power over on you because they too fear so they protect themselves with the same lie

The damn audacity

She was Me

The more me I become the more me I lose.

What got me through is now my muse.

Struggling today means looking back at yesterday.

What did she do then? What did she do when?

She is me and I was her.

Back when my trauma was a closed door.

Pulling threads has unraveled the flying carpet that got me here.

Now I’m standing on my own two feet.

Holding the strings of coping skills of yesteryears.

I keep trying to weave them back to what they used to be.

But the pattern that got her here doesn’t work for me.

I’m standing on the grass of forever more.

Holding the strands from before.

They whisper into the wind, “Don’t make me like I was before.”

Don’t build a carpet to escape or evade.

Build a foundation where the next you will be laid.

Build a dress to wear now that you are old.

Weave a blanket to cover when you get cold.

Knit a cap to keep the knowledge in.

Weave a basket to put your babies in.

But don’t use the old you to make the new you fly.

The adoption was done. The event was set.

The trauma you lived is now just regret.

She saved you with the flying carpet she weaved.

In each fiber, each color, each a moment grieved.

She is me and I am her.

The more me I become the more me I choose.

Choose how to heal, to grieve, and how to weave…

A tapestry of she and me and who we will be.

To hang as an emblem that who we were isn’t who we have to be.

Hope

Dear children-

I hope one day you will understand that I wasn’t supported in the ways I needed.
I hope you can see that I tried my best in situations and relationships and a society that sets women up to fail because the expectations are too high and the supports are too minimal.
I hope you can see that I was tired not angry.
That I got up each day for you.
That any good I did was what I wished I could give you all the time.
I hope you are better than me. That I gave you what you needed.
That I taught you how and where to get the rest.
That you know how to advocate in ways I was never allowed.
I hope I have let you be who you were created to be.
I hope you can see yourselves clearly.
I know I can only hope and that so much is out of my control.
But for you… each day I hope.

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