Mothering While Disabled: The Reality



My paternal grandfather had only three children, three boys and only one wife, which is quite surprising for the era in which he lived. My paternal grandmother remarried after his death, and had my sole paternal aunt.

For as long as I have lived, my aunt has been crippled. However, my dad told him his younger sister wasn’t born that way. She had been born a healthy child, but however, a freak bicycle accident when she was a child resulted in her being unable to use her legs.

Notwithstanding her disability, my aunt is a sexy lady and I mean the sexy part.  She has been twice married and she is a fertile chick. She gave birth to 8 children; unfortunately, the first and the last children are dead. My 40-year-old cousin died last June, and my dad and his two surviving siblings were gutted. The last child, died many years ago, when I was a little over 10 years old.Why am I telling you my family’s history?  I witnessed first-hand, as my aunt, who lived with us for very many years, raised her children and even grandchildren, and it didn’t seem odd or out of place. To me, she was my aunt, my dad’s sister and cousins’ mom.

Yes, they were many times when the issue of her disability was challenging, especially when there was a need to move her from one place to another, but she is such a strong and independent woman, that she made things quite easy for everyone involved.

However, with the benefit of hindsight, I know that her motherhood reality was different. She couldn’t chase after her children, if she wanted to. Someone had to help her get them. She didn’t have the luxury of walking her children to school. My mom was not one for taking a child to school, nor any mom around for that matter, so the children from our house all walked ourselves to the school and back home.

My aunt viewed the world solely from her bent position. Right now, she has to literally strain her neck to see all of us, especially as age has set in too.

I will not lie, I thought about how she has sex, but I was never bold enough to ask her about it. But I did ask her about her child birth experience, because she was one of the proponents of “No shouting during labour” and advised me appropriately when I was pregnant the first time.

My aunt likes to talk anyway, so she was only too welcoming of my question and I ended up spending hours with her as she shared some of her birth experiences.  The birth of her last child, who died as a baby, was the most painful, and I guess that was because she was advanced in age and her body was telling her, “I have had enough!”

My aunt is disabled in her legs, but there is a couple that I know who are both deaf, and that is where there disability ends. Their minds are so sharp; they send messages (WhatsApp, text messages) at fire speed.  They are just great.

They have two children between the ages of 11 and 14 years; a boy and a girl.

While the wife teaches, the husband is something of a disability activist, canvassing for how the society can be more conducive for persons living with disabilities.

When I asked them some time ago about their love story, they told me how they had both resigned to a single life, before they met and got married. They told me how their families had been happy on the one hand about the fact that they were getting married, but unhappy on the other hand that it was to a fellow disabled person.

Their families worried about the children they would produce, and they worried too that their children may inherit their deafness. God being faithful, both their children have no such disability and have even mastered sign language in addition the conventional language.

Their parenting style is different. They are very protective of their children. For one, and I guess, it is out of fear that folks will try to take advantage of them on the strength of their parents’ disabilities.

This overprotectiveness colours every aspect of their parenting; from school runs to the kinds of friends their kids, who are growing and expanding their reach, are allowed to roll with.

For the mom especially, motherhood is filled with worries concerning the welfare of her children. I smiled at that, as I thought if it’s that one, she’s got many companions, but I do understand that her own worries stem mostly from her disability.

She also shared a season of her life where she was constantly comparing herself to fellow moms without impairment. A period when she was comparing the growth of her own children to that of children born to moms without impairment. Thankfully, she has come to realise that comparison only steals her joy and nothing else.

But that overprotectiveness with her kids, she and her husband are still asking God to deliver them from it.

What the experience of these parents living with one disability or the other shows is, although there are peculiarities because of their disabilities, we are all mothers. Almost all of our concerns are the same, and if they are not, we agree that we all have concerns about our children at one point or the other.

We all get pregnant, have babies, clean, cook, raise them and do all that we can that they turn out right.

Mothers living with disabilities, you deserve kudos for pushing your own limitations to one side and soldiering on in this motherhood journey.

Cheers to you mama.



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