About Me

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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Friday, June 14, 2013

He dances like his Momom!

Award Ceremony

Seeing Robby dressed up yesterday took my breath away. He was the perfect mixture between the adorable little boy that he is with hints of the young man he is becoming. I thought that he would whine and lament about having to wear his "fancy" clothes, instead he surprised me by fully embracing the opportunity to dress up. He strutted into his school for the Awards Ceremony exuding confidence and happiness. I dutifully followed, schlepping the cake, camera and an overflowing bag full of assorted paper products. 

Although I was fully prepared for an emotional morning, I surprised myself by not crying. I think I was at the point where I was emotionally disengaged from the school, the parents and the administration. To be honest, I was also nervous (although I never let it show) about seeing the father who confronted me about my prosthesis being visible.The prospect of another confrontation has been nagging in the back of my mind, and I simply wanted to get through this event without an incident. Although I dreaded another heated and hurtful exchange, I never cowered to his demands, and yesterday I wore a beautiful new dress that fell softly against my bedazzled carbon fiber socket.

Robby smiled from ear to ear throughout the various presentations.  I was beaming when his name was called to receive the "Student Citizen of the Year" award. Hearing the staff praise Robby's interactions with various students throughout the year was wonderful affirmation that he is a compassionate and strong child. I couldn't be prouder of him!

Not only did he receive the award for citizenship, but he was also bestowed with the "Future Builder of Great Things" award. Many of his projects from the year were featured in the slideshow presentation. Although Robby likes the citizenship award, he is perhaps more excited about the distinction he earned by building and creating.

After the ceremony, the students and their guests all dispersed to their respective classrooms for a party. At this point I saw the offended father on the other side of the room. The looks of repulsion and disdain that he exuded let me know that he was not happy, nor had he gotten over the fact that my prosthesis is still visible. I decided to smile, and proceeded to spend the rest of the party ignoring the entire family.

I did happen to overhear their little girl lament to the teacher that she didn't receive an award. She proclaimed that she deserved the "Best Dressed Student" award (which is non-existent).  I couldn't help but think that this child is already demonstrating the shallow tendencies of her father!

Thankfully the event unfolded without the confrontations and drama that I feared. Robby loved the well-earned recognition and accolades. We both left the school, skipping and singing, although I'm fairly certain our reasons were different. 


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Meanie Moms

The drive to school yesterday morning was dramatically different than the drive we took on his first day. In September we both cried for much of the drive. Yesterday Robby was so happy that he couldn't contain his smile. He giggled and sang songs the entire trip.

Today we will go back to the school for the final time. The school is having an award ceremony and Robby is being honored. He has been chosen to receive the "Student Citizen" Award for the year. I could not be more proud of this distinction!

Robby has no qualms standing up for himself and for others. He doesn't tolerate bullying and instinctively speaks up and intervenes when he recognizes it. His teachers have told me stories about my little crusader protecting his classmates, returning snatched items and his making sure that everybody is included in the chosen activity. The "Cool Kid Koopa Club," which Robby started as an alternative to excluding classmates, remained strong throughout the school year. 

It is hard standing up to a bully and I know that I don't possess Robby's confidence and gumption. Yesterday I listened to a group of parents revel in the tales of making the classroom teacher uncomfortable. Standing in the parking lot, I was left speechless listening to the name calling, judgmental and hurtful comments that were spewed about the teacher whom Robby loves. The Meanie Moms laughed and actually exchanged high fives when one proudly proclaimed that she made the teacher cry!

Instead of speaking up, I remained silent. These Moms were proud of their bullying the teacher and instead of defending her, I made an excuse to leave the conversation. The fact that Robby is receiving an award for doing the exact opposite is an irony that has not been lost on me. This will never happen again.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon yesterday kicking myself for not speaking up. I felt bad for the teacher who has been dedicated and loving all year. Robby is so lucky to have been placed in her classroom. Knowing that she was nursing hurt feelings from the Meanie Moms, I sat down and wrote a long letter to accompany the end of the year gift. I know that I cannot undo the pain that has been caused by the other parents, but I needed to let her know that she is valued, appreciated and admired. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Last Day!!

Robby is in for a treat when he wakes up this morning. In lieu of the expected Cinnamon Toast Waffle and cup of milk, I have made cinnamon rolls and bacon. After all, today is a special day: it is the last day of school!

It is hard to believe that the school year is ending. It feels like just yesterday I was fretting and crying over his being away for an entire school day. Although it was a difficult transition, admittedly more for me than him, there is no doubt that he has flourished.

This school year I have watched Robby's confidence both waiver and blossom. He struggled, especially after the Dengue Fever, but rallied and finished the school year academically strong. It was heartbreaking watching his skills slip away when he was so ill. We were prepared to expect the Dengue Dementia to last through the summer. Thankfully, the experts were wrong and he quickly regained his footing.

I don't have the words to express how proud I am of my little boy. He is growing into a confident, self-assured and caring individual. Today we celebrate not only the last school day, but the last day in his school. Next year will bring a new building, new teachers, new friends and new adventures. In the meantime, I think I'll just enjoy our summer vacation together!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sad Memories

As much as I would love to forget, I remember every details of the afternoon of June 11, 1993, as if it happened yesterday. Twenty years ago I woke up a naive teenager, but I went to bed irrevocably changed. I was home from college and assumed my job as a babysitter for a local family. At that time in my life, it was the perfect fit. I had taken care of the children, then 6 and 8, since they were born, and they were good kids. Although I had been away at college, we quickly eased into our comfortable routine for the summer.

Because I had known the family for so long, it was normal for the neighborhood kids to congregate at the house. I would like to think that it was because I was such a fun babysitter. In reality they were drawn to the pool and the never ending supply of Rice Krispie treats that I always kept stocked in the kitchen.

That fateful afternoon we had exceptionally hot weather. The pool was open and the children, along with some friends, were splashing and having a great time. The neighborhood children's moms were also poolside, joining the fun.  Among the brood was a little girl named Rachel. She was the youngest of the pack at only three years old, but that certainly didn't stop her from trying everything. She was a spitfire!

Rachel, abiding by the rules by wearing her life vest, jumped into the pool and squealed with delight. She swam over to the side and crawled out. Staying on her tummy, she began to pat and play with the waves coming along the top of the water. At first I didn't think that this was out of character, but after a few moments I became alarmed.  Her mom knelt next to her to make sure that she was okay.

What happened next felt like it took an eternity, but in reality occurred in a matter of seconds. Rachel's mom let out a blood curdling scream, the primitive type that only comes from true fear. In a flash I ran into the kitchen and called for an ambulance. It took me two attempts to solicit aid from 911--the first call ended up being disconnected.  By the time I hung up the receiver, Rachel was lying on the kitchen table, turning blue and unresponsive.

Her mom began screaming, "Please Peggy, don't let my baby die." I took off her yellow Beauty and the Beast life jacket and began CPR. When I think about it, I can still feel her cool wet face on mine which is probably a reason I avoid remembering!  I only stopped CPR for a moment to yell at the kids who had congregated in the kitchen. Wanting to spare them from seeing their friend in such a vulnerable state, I instinctively screamed at them to leave.

It felt like an hour, but an ambulance came within 10 minutes. In my heart, I know that Rachel had a slight pulse when she was loaded onto the stretcher and transported to the hospital. On autopilot, I called the mother of the children I was watching to inform her about the incident. I retrieved my two little ones, who by now were nearly inconsolable with fear, and waited for their mom to come home. I was numb.

I can remember wishing and praying with all my heart that Rachel would be okay. I couldn't fathom such a sweet little girl dying so quickly. I thought that she would be okay because she had to be okay. In my innocence, I couldn't imagine her young life ending so early.

At about 7:00 that evening, the telephone finally rang. Rachel had a congenital heart abnormality and, although she had surgery when she was an infant, the muscle was weakened. Despite my efforts and my pleads to the Universe, she died.

When I heard the news, the pain struck to my very core. I had never felt such anguish, grief and pain. It was overwhelming and I felt like I couldn't breath. If my mom hadn't been by my side, I don't know what would have happened. 

The next few weeks were a blur. I knew that the family didn't blame me, but I couldn't help but blame myself. I did everything "right" but struggled with the "what if" scenarios for years. The fact that the original call to 911 became the impetus for a police investigation certainly did not help! I was contacted by the press and endured a full interview from the State police. In the end, I was absolved, and the 911 system was changed to institute a call-back policy when a disconnection occurs. While I doubt that the few seconds it took me to call back for help would have made an difference in this case, I have some solace in the belief that the new policy might have helped other people during the past 20 years.

What happened with Rachel profoundly changed me. I learned that sometimes, regardless of how deeply you need something to happen, it doesn't always work out. I learned that you need to stand up for the truth, regardless of the naysayers and the pain that you are experiencing in the moment. I learned that life isn't fair and that sometimes bad things happen regardless of whether or not you do everything right. 

I don't talk about that summer, and few of my friends know what transpired. Even fewer realize the depths of self-doubt, depression and anguish that I experienced for the months that followed. It took me a long time to heal. In reality I probably should have sought counseling, but being young, I thought I could do it alone.

In twenty years the memories have not faded, but I have gained perspective. Rachel's death and the inquiry that followed changed me forever. I know that there was nothing that I could have done to save her, but accepting that a child can die so quickly continues to be difficult to comprehend. I'm thinking about her today.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ditches and Dancing

Friday was definitely a day filled with highs and lows. Thankfully, it was followed by the weekend affording me some much needed time to relax and regroup. Of course, I'm not sure how much relaxing was actually accomplished, but I digress and that will be the topic of a future blog.

Friday morning was spent frantically trying to get everything organized and ready for the luncheon. Robby stayed home from school so that he could attend and "help" us with the event. Since he only has three more days of school left, I didn't see the harm in allowing him to skip class for the day. Besides, seeing what his Daddy does for a living is just as educational as sitting in a classroom.

With the car loaded with lasagna, rolls, and cookies, we headed into Scott's school. With help and the use of several carts, everything was transported into the cafeteria, and within 30 minutes we were set up, decorated and ready for the students.

This is the 8th year that we have hosted this event, and I have to admit, I think that this was our best yet. Everybody enjoyed the food, the student's accomplishments were celebrated, and everybody left with a fully belly and a smile on their face. Before I knew it, we were packing up to head home, highly satisfied with a wildly successful luncheon.

I had promised Robby that we would pick up his friend Rowan from school and go to the local bounce house. Both he and Rowan were excited about spending a Friday afternoon hopping and playing. I was eager to watch him become tired, hopeful that it would translate into an early bedtime. As soon as I had the car unpacked, it was time to go pick up Rowan. By this point in the afternoon, I was beginning to lose steam.

Driving on autopilot, I had already gone a few miles when I realized I was not headed towards her school. With time ticking away, I began to look for a place to turn around. I saw a side street and decided to take it, hoping that I would be able to turn around.

I knew I was driving slowly, so when I saw a car quickly approaching in my rear view mirror, I pulled to the side of the road to allow him to pass. Unfortunately I pulled over too far! Within seconds, I was stuck in a ditch with the right tires covered to the top with mud. I tried to back up and rock my car out, but I only managed to dig myself deeper into the ditch. There was no doubt: I was stuck and wasn't going to be going anywhere. I desperately needed help.

I called Scott who had already made it home. I explained where I was and that I needed him to come right away because Rowan was expecting me to pick her up at school in 10 minutes! After I hung up with him, I called Mr. Bill whom I knew had a strong truck and a lot of mechanical experience. I love that I could call both men for help and that they both dropped everything to come, no questions asked.

I sat on the side of the road and realized that the SUV was profoundly leaning. I knew the vehicle was losing the battle with the soft mud and that I needed to get Robby out. I had just pulled Robby from the vehicle when Scott and Bill arrived.  Without asking any questions, Scott threw me the keys to his car so that I could go pick up Rowan. He stayed with Bill and a gentleman in a truck who also stopped to help.

By the time I picked up Rowan and drove home, the mud laden SUV was sitting in the driveway. To everybody's surprise, the good Samaritan was able to pull it out of the ditch! The car was dirty but undamaged, and my anxiety and fear turned to embarrassment when I knew that everything was going to be okay.

As promised I took Robby and Rowan to the bounce house. I sat in the bounce lounge, beating myself up for stupidly driving into a ditch. I couldn't believe that I had done something that irresponsible! We were so incredibly lucky that nobody was hurt and that the SUV was pulled out dirty but unscathed.

I called my Mom and began to rant about my stupidity. She stopped me in mid sentence and told me something that I desperately needed to hear. "You made a mistake. You aren't perfect, and it's okay." In that moment I forgave myself for the accident, accepted the gift that nobody was hurt and that the car was undamaged, and promised to pay the good Samaritan forward by helping somebody else someday.

As soon as I embraced the fact that I am not perfect, I began to feel better about driving into the ditch. I tried to put the accident out of my mind and began to concentrate on having fun. We came home and had a pizza party followed by a walk to see the duck pond. 

Somehow the walk morphed into a dance party. The fact that it began to steadily rain only added to the fun! We must have been quite a sight for the neighbors, dancing down the street in the rain to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and "Beat It.". Both kids were laughing, singing and having a good time. I'm so glad that Robby is not yet at the age where he is embarrassed to sing and dance with me!

I was exhausted by the time I crawled into bed Friday night. Between the luncheon, driving into a ditch and the dance party in the rain, the day had been the epitome of good and bad. I'm so glad that I ended the evening by dancing in the rain, laughing with my little boy!