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Tag Archives: disability

I’m No Saint

— Guest Post by Mom —

I had a thought recently that made me realize what a hypocrite I am. You see, there is a family in my town that I heard about through the grapevine who have taken in multiple foster children with disabilities. I initially thought to myself that they were such wonderful loving people to do something so selfless. And that is absolutely true, they ARE wonderful loving people, but I am so incredibly irritated with myself that this was my first thought.

That may sound strange to some of you so let me explain. I have been at the other end of that well-meaning thought many times. I have had people actually tell me I was a saint to be in a relationship with Dan because of his disability. I am sure there are even more people who have thought this, but not said it. On a good day Dan and I laugh about this. We know it’s meant in the best possible way. We also know that if anyone in this relationship deserves sainthood it’s Dan for putting up with me! I am one big hot mess!!

So, why does that sentiment bother me so much? Because at the root of it is the assumption that it takes a totally selfless person to love someone with a disability and that implies that a disabled person has nothing valuable to contribute to a relationship. Now do you see how offensive that is? Of course, I know that no one who has said that to me means it that way, but that makes it no less offensive.

I can assure you I am in no way a saint. Not one bit. I’m not very selfless. I’m actually pretty spoiled. Let me tell you just how wonderful I really am.

Dan and I met on an online dating site. We had only communicated via text and email before our first date. He told me he had CP and that he walked with a cane. I didn’t know anything about CP at the time and I just assumed that he had a slight limp since he only needed a cane. Then our first date came. As he got out of his car and walked toward me I thought, “Well, that is a lot more than just a little limp!!!” And you know what else I thought? “There is no way he is 5’ 8” like his profile says!!!” Yeah, I am really selfless, aren’t I? I have such deep thoughtful reactions to things.

[On that note the first thing I said when my oldest daughter was born was, “OMG! Look at her feet!!!” They were unusually long and skinny and after 11 hours of labor those were my first words about her. I am never going to be known as profound.]

I really loved that date. Dan was handsome and funny. He seemed kind (and he is!). Still, I had so much self-doubt that I told him later that I didn’t know if I was going to be able to be in a relationship with someone with a disability. It wasn’t his disability that bothered me. It was ME. I thought I was going to do and say stupid stuff all the time and I didn’t want to be an embarrassment to him.

The good news is that it only took me about 24 hours to realize that I really wanted to keep dating him no matter how dumb I might be. The bad news is that I am constantly an embarrassment, but for entirely different reasons. The other good news is that he loves me anyway.

Last night this family I mentioned posted a video of their son with CP trying to stand up on wood floors with new slippers on. He struggled…and giggled…and struggled…and finally he got up. Dan and I chuckled about that determination because it is so much like Dan. It was in this moment I realized my hypocrisy. This is not a family of saints. This is a family with so much love they have a need to share it with children who may not have it otherwise. That is not selfless. It could even been seen as selfish. They want to fill their house with more and more joy. It is probably hard sometimes – may most times; maybe it’s even painful, but they know that the gift those children give to them is worth more than anything else in the world.

That is how I feel about Dan. His love for me is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I am so thankful I didn’t give into my doubts.

 

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The Snake Incident

We recently had another great adventure at Marland Mansion. I know that Casper wants to tell you all about it, but first I have a story to tell. It is really a funny story, and an embarrassing one, but the most important thing is how pawesome Casper was through the whole thing. (Of course.)
Part of our tour led us onto the grounds of the mansion. There was a small lake and a lot of lawn. As we walked down a sidewalk on our way to view one of the outbuildings another member of our group says to me, “Look what you stepped on!”
Well, there was a lake nearby so my thoughts were that it was goose poo or maybe a tiny frog. I picked up my left foot. Nothing.
“No, there,” she says as I begin to pick up my right foot, “A snake!”
People who know me know that I am afraid of snakes. Not just kind of afraid, but panic-attack-freak-out afraid!
Before I even saw the snake a scream rolled out of me. I say rolled out because this scream came from so deep within I had no control. It was not from my mouth, my throat, my gut. No, it was from my very soul! I screamed and began to shake and noticed that the snake under my shoe was about 5 inches long and very apparently already dead.
Do you think that mattered? Nope. Big Nope.
At this point I am flapping my arms, screaming, hopping and generally acting like a raving lunatic. Meanwhile, I am watching this all happen from a distance like some kind of out of body experience. It was like the rational me was standing there watching this maniac completely humiliate herself and she was saying, “Woah! Slow your roll! It was a tiny dead snake. It’s over now. CALM DOWN ALREADY!”
Crazy me heard all this and wanted to do what I was told, but still was screaming. I could hear the poor woman who told me about the snake laughing and apologizing and I managed to tell her it was ok, I think. My girls are laughing hysterically at their crazy mom and grabbing me and telling me its ok. Then I realize that Casper is probably freaking out too!
The thought of how he might be reacting to my panic made me immediately start to calm down. I got the girls in line and patted Casper, saying it was ok. He was fine, a little worried, but really doing amazing. I am completely shocked he did not pull down Dan trying to help me, but he was as professional as possible.
Then all this clarity was lost when my youngest decided to touch the dead snake and then come touch me. I told her to stop. I tried to tell her I was serious and that this was not ok. I started to panic again. I wanted her OFF OF ME, but I didn’t exactly want to shove the poor kid to the ground. Besides, I had many witnesses. I had to be a good mom!!! She took a while, but finally got it and stopped.
At this point the whole group, about 8 others and the tour guide, are either laughing or staring. That poor guide. I apologized as much as I could muster, still a bit shaken by the whole incident. It was maybe a minute and a half, but seemed like an eternity, and still does.
The whole thing was horrifying and hilarious, but since I am the type of person I am the hilarity won out and I had to share. Oh, and the worst part was later. As we walked back to the mansion a dread came over me. It was really windy out. I could just imagine the snake being blown up by a gust and smacking me in the face! Well, that didn’t happen. No, it was worse. The snake was gone. I realize that it could have been blown away or a bird took him away, but in my head it had been alive all along and now wanted revenge. *cringe*
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Woof! Casper here, and I wanted to tell you what I thought about the whole thing.

It was doggone funny!

Mama just barked as loud as I have ever heard her. My first move was to put myself in front of dad as a leaning post and to block him off from the group. Then, I stopped to look around and make sure I wasn’t in trouble for chasing a cat or somethin’. Once I did that, I checked in with dad to see if I needed to save her from drowning in her invisible simmin’ hole. I was ready to help but we figured out rather quickly that she wasn’t drowning on dry land or about to have a heart attack, although the latter might have been a judgment call. Dad was laughing after he decided she was in no real danger, so we stood back and enjoyed our interpretive dance break of the day. (I was wondering why Alyssa didn’t join in; she usually does.)

As we began to walk-on and dad said it was Okay so I asked dad why Mom didn’t like such a little snake? He explained her fear and that it is the same as if he stood me in front of a grocery store meet freezer when I was first released for service. I told him I understood. Of course, I suggested that we get her more snakes and bring them to her a couple times a week. Then, after a few weeks she will be less scared and she won’t forget how to human when she sees one. Dad laughed, and said No, buddy, that works for our training together, but in this situation, we don’t need to find her a fix. I’m sure she will at least like the cookies she’ll get out of the deal but I guess that’s more treats for me!