As a mother of a girl with cerebral palsy, for a long time, my main concern was her rehabilitation. Today it’s not. Today, her rehabilitation represents a huge part of our daily life but it is just part of our routine and it is not stressful at all, today doesn’t stress me and neither does ‘the future’. Today, that we are comfortable and calm, we can start thinking about a motherhood that is no longer “special”, but that it is just motherhood, and we can learn all about other things.
This year I learned a valuable lesson, one that I hope it is obvious to many others, but for me it was huge learning. It was something that started to combine along the year through different events. Somehow, all of these events guided me to the same conclusion, one that is pretty simple, but that it took me 5 years to learn, as a mother, and 28 years in a personal way; a capable person is not determined by the physical or cognitive skills that he or she has, but by feeling capable, by having a positive self esteem and trustingt ourselves.
It sounds good, right?? But I think this is a quite complex matter and I have been thinking about it for several months now, probably since my friend Natalia gave a speech about self esteem and frustration in children with disabilities. I have seen persons with cerebral palsy that play the cello, that participate in a dance company, win the Miss Iowa or go to college and study, got married and have kids. I know people who are really happy, even with their “disabilities”.
On the other hand, André Agassi, great former tennis player, publish this year his book ‘Open’ . He confessed that he hated tennis, that he was not happy at all, that he grew up with a father that was never satisfied with his achievements and that always demanded him more, there was always a critic but never a congratulation. He also tells that when he won a big tournament, after three consecutive defeats in other finals, he called his father and he reply “but how could you lost the fourth set?” Agassi, a very capable man, talented, a successful sportsman, considered a winner by many people… Was not happy! You can read part of the interview in this link.
It is obvious that our role as parents is key for our children’s happiness. Natalia said in her speech: Children create their self image through the image of themselves that we show them. We are their mirrors. For a long time, as the mother of a girl with disability, I was directed towards her achievements, her progress, and her improvements. However there is a fragile balance between loving our children just as they are and helping them to overcome their difficulties; and wanting them to “get better” and develop their maximum potential. I think this is for children with and without disability.
To us, this learning has been taken from different rehabilitation approaches, mainly. Learning that as parents, we not only have to evaluate a treatment by its effectiveness in the motor functions, but also for how it affects her emotional development. First and foremost her rehabilitation I want a happy daughter. This is why her rehabilitation can not be at any cost and I do think some therapies can affect in a negative way the emotional development of a child and his or her bond with the parents.
I want my daughter to have a positive self esteem, because that is what makes a really happy person; to feel loved, to trust oneself, to trust one’s skills. Because nobody can do it all, we all have limited capabilities, but the important thing is to feel that we can and to trust enough in ourselves to just try. We fell this trust during our childhood, when we feel unconditionally loved by our parents, loved just as we are, perfect with our flaws.
I want my daughter to be just as she is and today, I feel that this is my main mission as a mother, to achieve a positive motherhood.