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, May 10, 2013

Mother's Day!

In case your inbox hasn't been flooded with email offers for flowers, candy, spa treatments and pre-planned mortuary services (I thought the "show Mom you care by prepaying for her casket" offer was tacky), allow me to remind and perhaps enlighten you. Sunday is Mother's Day. True to his personality, Robby has completely thrown himself into holiday preparations.

My little reveler has been planning my breakfast in bed for weeks. At his insistence, he (with the help of his Daddy) prepared a practice breakfast last Sunday. At first I thought they had confused the date, but Robby quickly chirped that he was just making sure he could flip the french toast without it falling on the floor. I'm hopeful that he was successful, but either way I have to admit that it was delicious!

Yesterday I received an email from Robby's teacher. During art class they were instructed to make a card for their Mom. Robby apparently spent much of the class carefully creating his masterpiece. When they were given colored pencils and told that they could write a message inside, my little guy became frantic. After asking to speak with his teacher privately he confided, "I don't know the words to write that will let my Momom know how special she is. What word is bigger than love because that is what I feel when I think about her."  Needless to say, I logged out of my email and wiped the tears from my eyes. I realize I am biased, but I do have a wonderful little boy.

Robby ran into my arms as soon as I arrived to pick him up. Unfortunately he was so happy to see me that he didn't take the time to wash the yellow paint from his hands. I now have two sunflower yellow hand prints on the back of what had been my favorite blue dress. He confided that his hands were covered with yellow because he had just finished painting the picture frame that he is making me for Mother's Day. (He then begged me not to tell anybody because it was a surprise.)

I'm looking forward to Sunday, not because I expect grandiose gifts but rather because Robby's enthusiasm is contagious. I hope that everybody has a wonderful weekend. I'll post a brief blog on Sunday after I enjoy my french toast and unwrap my picture frame.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Robby's Speech

Robby is in his second year of speech therapy. I have noticed vast improvement with his articulation, but perhaps that is because I am so accustomed to his patterns. To be completely honest, I have no difficulty understanding him, yet I am reminded that speech therapy is still necessary as long as others struggle to comprehend his words. In order to thwart teasing when he becomes older, we have made improving his speech clarity a priority.

The majority of Robby's speech issues stem from his hearing impairment, yet I also know that he probably inherited some of his tendencies from me. I was enrolled in speech therapy when I was Robby's age. I hated every moment I was forced to work with the therapist. Sitting in her "office" (a term which I use loosely because even I knew the space was nothing more than a converted janitor's closet) I surrendered my recess time twice a week to make my tongue move the way she demanded. I hated Tuesdays and Thursdays because I knew I would have to work with her.

For me, Speech Therapy was nothing more than repeating words written on flashcards. It was both frustrating and boring. Although I knew that Robby required therapy, I dreaded exposing him to the same lessons I endured in the quest for the perfect "r."

Thankfully, Robby loves his speech therapist. He enjoys spending time with her as they share stories and jokes. She has done something my speech therapist was never able to achieve: she has made her lessons fun and engaging!

Unbeknownst to me, Robby's was invited to make a presentation to his class. He was asked to practice all of his skills as he spoke about what makes his family special. Although I wasn't there for his speech, both his teacher and speech therapist were more than eager to fill me in when I picked him up after school.

After a brief disclaimer that he was did well, they proceeded to recount Robby's speech. This is what my little cherub told his entire class:

"My family is special. My Momom has one leg and uses a prosthetic. That's unique. My Dad doesn't have his big toe and loves pickles. My Nana has two new inside knees and smiles a lot. Grandma lives in Ohio and grows lots of beans. My Candy Papaw lives in Texas and he is a real-life cowboy. My Nana Phara dances to loud music wearing nothing but a boobie holder and people give her dollars." 

Knowing that I needed to offer some clarity into the family dynamics, I frantically began to explain Robby's interpretations. My Dad does live in Texas but is not a cowboy. He has never ridden a horse and rarely changes out of his suits on weekdays. He is the epitome of an executive. More important, and contrary to Robby's description, his wife is not a stripper. She owns a Middle Eastern restaurant which features belly dancing. Robby saw her dance and was obviously oblivious to the artistic and cultural components of the performance. 

I was unprepared to defend my family from the unintended implications of Robby's speech. Although I tried, I'm not confident that I was terribly successful. After all, some things just cannot be undone. I'm sure that Robby's presentation will be fodder for discussions in the teacher's lounge for the coming weeks.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Dreadful Commute

Yesterday was cold and rainy. It would have been the perfect day to curl up under my electric throw, hibernate for the afternoon and work on an appeal. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, I was expected to put on work clothes and venture from my quiet work solitude into the real world. I was obligated to spend the afternoon at a health fair which was hosted by a hospital within the quasi-close vicinity.

While I was unhappy about my comfy clothes being kept in the drawer for the day, I was downright miserable when faced with the prospect of the drive. One of the perks of working from home is that my commute is limited to the trips I take to my coffee pot. I don't have to deal with rush hour traffic, a benefit I never take for granted.

After dropping off Robby at school (while holding my head up high and proudly showing my prosthetic), I gassed up the car and headed into the quagmire of DC bound traffic. Between the torrential downpours, the fog and the congested lanes, the drive was anything but relaxing. Two hours of my life were wasted as I crawled through traffic mob to my destination, traveling only 40 miles. I was delighted to find the gift shop as soon I entered the hospital because I was in desperate need of Tylenol for my pounding headache.

The event went well and before I knew it, we were packing up our table to head home. Thankfully, reverse rush hour traffic had not yet started and the heavy rain had lightened to an inconvenient drizzle. I was optimistic about a stress-free drive home!

Everything was going well and I was cruising along, making what I thought was good time. I turned on the radio and happily began to belt out the songs. Then I noticed that I didn't recognize any landmarks, and I became concerned. Driving under the "Welcome to Maryland" sign confirmed my suspicion that I was lost. I had spent the past 30 minutes driving North instead of South. D'Oh!

A few more wrong turns, one poorly executed exit (I apologize to my fellow drivers and fully accept the middle finger that was extended in my direction), and two hours later, I was finally home. It took me 68 miles to get home from the hospital which was only 40 miles away. I think I'm going to have to write an explanation when I turn in my mileage for the event.

I really hate DC traffic, but it is especially offensive when the weather is less than ideal. Yesterday was exhausting, not because I was particularly active but because the commute was draining. I'm fairly certain that I would require prescription anxiety medication if I had to make the trip on a regular basis. Today I am going to change into my comfy pants as soon as I drop off Robby and hide in my home office.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Hell No!

Walking into school yesterday, I was anticipating a normal week. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, and I was looking forward to a casual, albeit busy, day. As I was leaving the school, the Principal asked me into her office, and I instantly knew that my stress-free demeanor was about to become a memory. 

As she began to speak, I felt like I was witnessing a poor movie. After all, this conversation could not be happening in 2013! Numb and dumbfounded, I was diplomatically informed that a complaint has been voiced about my attire. I was confused because my wardrobe is comprised of conservative "mom-wear" and a few demure work outfits. Other than the occasional stain, I have never worn anything that could be classified as offensive.

I must have looked confused, because the Principal clarified by explaining that the issue was with my prosthesis, not my clothes. A parent, not a student, had actually taken the time to complain about seeing my prosthetic? My immediate response of, "If they find seeing it so unseemly, they should try wearing it!" was met with a flat reaction.

If my prosthesis ever made a student feel uncomfortable, I would jump on the opportunity to educate and enlighten. So many times children are initially uncomfortable simply because a prosthetic is an unknown concept. I never hesitate to tell my story, to let them touch and investigate my prosthesis, and I always find the time to answer their questions. Had this issue originated from a child, it would have been easier to accept. The fact that an adult took it upon himself (I suspect I know who it is) to complain about my prosthesis being visible infuriates me!

Although I don't feel that I should have been made aware of this complaint, I don't judge the Principal. She was in an uncomfortable situation and was probably hoping that I would be the avenue of least resistance. I have been nothing but accommodating and helpful all school year, so it would be easy to assume that I would simply oblige for the remaining six weeks of school. She was wrong!

If viewing my prosthesis is offensive to this individual's sensibilities, might I suggest he not look in my direction. I am an amputee, and that reality is never going to change. It took a lot of courage for me to make my prosthetic visible for the first time. I have absolutely no intention of now covering it up simply to satisfy the ignorance of one arrogant fool. 

Despite the cold temperatures and the rain, I am wearing shorts today. I plan on wearing shorts, or a skirt, for the remainder of the school year. For good measure, last night Robby had a great time applying sparkly crystals and stickers to my socket. I will be a full-on blinged out Amputee Mommy for the remainder of the school year!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Growing Weary

The weekend was relatively quiet which is good because I was in desperate need of some down time. I avoided my natural inclination to stay busy with assorted projects and allowed myself to simply relax. The decompression time provided me with a glimpse of clarity into an issue that requires my immediate attention.  The more I thought about it, the more aggravated I became.

I am fortunate to have a solid support base of wonderful friends and family who celebrate my accomplishments and are always willing to organize a posse to help me right a wrong. Their honesty has helped me grow, and they understand and respect my goals. I would do anything to help my friends, and I know that they feel the same way. 

Unfortunately, it occurred to me that I also have a myriad of toxic relationships in my life. From the Facebook friends whose status updates do nothing more than make me shake my head out of frustration to the real life "friends" who are always critical of my mistakes yet never cheer my victories, at times I am surrounded by negative energy. I am an eternal optimist, always trying to find the silver lining and never wanting to hurt anyone's feelings.

Unfortunately, my desire to evade a conflict often results in my harboring hurt feelings. I find confrontation uncomfortable and tend to avoid it at all costs. Always the consummate peacemaker, I tend to absorb the petty actions and comments of others in order to avoid a negative conversation. I've become adept at letting things roll off my back, but lately I find myself growing weary of fearing the reactions and comments of a few people. 

Toxic relationships exist a personal level, but also can occur in the professional arena. Of course those waters are trickier to navigate, but I feel like I am just beginning to find my way. My desire to keep everybody happy often interferes with my ability to advocate for myself.

I accept my portion of the responsibility for these unsatisfactory relationships. I have been overly accommodating, always willing to lend a hand and work towards the greater goal. I have donated my time and my talents towards various projects without any expectation of acknowledgment or compensation. I fear that my generosity has resulted in the devaluation of my skills and worth. Instead of being viewed as somebody who is a hard working team player, I believe I am being perceived as somebody who is easy to manipulate.

The past few weeks have been both exciting and clarifying. I don't relish the spotlight, but I am honored to have built a platform which I can use to speak for our community. I expect my friends, family members and colleagues to afford me the same courtesies and respect which I offer to them. I am going to be 40 years old next year, and I no longer have time for high school interactions.