Dear Little One


Sometimes you can’t move forward until you go back, and I have  realized that I have skipped so much of my journey with my daughters, just jumping in here without mentioning where I have been. One of my biggest challenges was the transitional time when Zoe was growing into a child with visible disabilities.

 This letter was written to my daughter Zoe, during that time.

 Dear Little One,

Things are not always as they seem.

We were at the park the other day, you and I, and your big sister too. She is only a year older than you, but she can run and jump and climb. And you, completely in love with her, always laugh and clap- and share her joy. Maybe you imagine yourself traveling in her fluid body instead of resting on your own flat feet, managing your weak muscles that prevent you from walking independently.

On this day we can see the playground ahead, and your sister begins to run. My hands are on your waist, supporting your steps with a solid strength that enables you to shuffle your feet into an awkward yet productive gait. You are impatient; there are probably hundreds of  footsteps between you and your sister. You reach up your arms asking for help. You want me to carry you. I refuse the reply in my heart and say “no”. I take your hands in mine and we begin the slow walk together.

Finally when we arrive at the playground, you want to climb. I hold your waist, your arms and sometimes just your hand to stabilize you as you move carefully up the steps. A little boy, half your size walks by you, too close -his body briefly making contact. It is enough to challenge your careful balance and you begin to fall. My hand quickly pulls you upright to the stance you had worked so hard to establish.

Your hands in my hands, you lead me climbing clumsily to the top of the slide. I place you in my lap. You begin to scream loudly and I see the boy’s mother studying you and me. Your sister waits below, calling encouragement, anticipating the excitement of your accomplishment. We push off the top of the slide and you are crying in fear as you always do. And five feet later as we reach the bottom I hold you in front of me and you laugh! We are closer to the boy’s mother now, and we make eye contact. Before I can even consider conversation she asks “How old is she?” She tells me her boy has just turned 3, a few months back. She abandons the conversation, afraid and unable to ask the obvious questions. She turns her head and her eyes follow her son instead.

You see, little one….things are not always as they seem. When you are tired and I help you walk, when your weaker muscles need the support of my strength, or when I carry you, you sometimes cling to me. You may even be restless or not your true sweet self. Others may see your physical size, your neediness and think I am indulging you. But things are not always as they seem, I know what you need.

Sometimes, you may cry or scream in public , because I am challenging you. Expecting you to act like other children as we move through outside life socially as a family. Others may see a tantrum; I know what you need.

And when you move your body, quickly, repetitively, distracting or disturbing those around us, they may see immaturity, disruptive behavior. But I know you are adapting to the challenges of your environment the best that you can. I know your special needs.


Love, Mommy

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