Moms with Disabilities
You last met Lorna when I interviewed her for my “Cool Cat” series that featured cool people from the disability community. She is so interesting! She’s a blogging mom, an American living in Scotland!
The full interview is linked here.
I really enjoyed Lorna’s responses – I love her sense of humor and her nail-on-the-head observations.
I think you will too.
What is your disability?
Did you grow up with your disability or was it more recently acquired?
We go all the way back.
How do you think growing up with a disability affected your perspective, pride, opinions and culture surrounding disability?
Growing up, I knew I was different from most kids, but I’ve always had a sense of humor about it and tried not to internalize people’s um, wrong pre-conceptions. And I always knew I was excluded not because my body was ‘wrong’, but because there was a lack of ramps, and understanding.
Did you have disabled role models around you, growing up? If not, how do you think it would have affected you if you had?
My Aunt was disabled. Our disabilities are not connected, and she died before I was born, but my family’s experience meant that disability and advocacy wasn’t new and different. I also grew up with Geri Jewel on my TV in The Facts of Life. That was neat, too.
Did you grow up thinking you would be a mother?
I always thought it would happen, yeah. Wasn’t sure how, but it was something I always wanted.
Were you scared to become a mom because of your disability?
Physically, not really. Until I actually got pregnant. Isla was very planned, but once I was actually pregnant my ‘holy shit’ moments were more complicated. I was afraid of what other people would think of my parenting, and that I’d be watched more closely because of my disability.
Does your child have a disability? If so, is it the same as yours?
Nope, although I’m continually surprised that she doesn’t.
How does your child’s lack of disability – or difference in disability from your own – affect your parenting? Or does it at all?
I know every parent should think their child is amazing. But I think Isla is extra badass. I’ve never really focused on what I don’t do, but Isla does EVERYTHING really FAST. Running, dancing. Standing.
She’s nearly five and has more defined leg muscles than me. Not a hard thing to do, but still true. I let her run a little longer and twirl a little more, because she can. I’m amazed that this thoroughly physical child came out of me, but I marvel every day that I get to be her mother.
What would you say are the most challenging things about being a mom with a disability?
Not being able to go out with Isla without a PA or my husband. A lot of that has to do with not driving a car, but it’s still weird.
Do you think people focus more on you as a mom or you as a woman with a disability?
Even in my 30s, I doubt many people see me a woman, let alone a mother. But I do enjoy putting people right.
Disability aside, can you access the care, resources and help you need as a mom, or does disability consistently get layered on by the medical profession?
Living in the UK, my experiences have been generally positive. In my case it’s been about helping me facilitate the standing up side of motherhood that I have issues with, instead of anyone trying to take over.
What would you say your greatest skills as a mom are?
I’m probably more patient, because I’ve had to do a lot of waiting in other areas of my life. Is sarcasm a skill? Because that helps.
What do you think your child(ren) would say your greatest skills are?
She says I’m funny and I give the best hugs. I tell her I love her all the time, and she says she already knows.
How about weaknesses? What do you think the hardest parts of being a mom are for you?
I don’t think that I’m enough, but that’s not disability-specific. It bothers me that there are places my kid knows I can’t go because they are inaccessible to me as wheelchair-user. But that doesn’t mean I need to walk more, it means the world needs more ramps.
What do you think your kids would say are your weakest areas?!
I have zero drawing skills.
How do you think the presence of your disability makes it easier or harder to parent?
Like I said, I’m a patient parent, I think. When she was younger I felt bad that I couldn’t actually run after her, but I’m over it, and we do other things. I find it difficult when she does things I can’t share because of access issues, but we do things together too, and that’s in a way, more precious. I can’t be very spontaneous, either. But that’s not strictly a parenting issue.
What do you wish people would really get about being a mom with a disability?
Can you tell us a parenting story?! Something funny related to your disability?
Recently I’m sitting in my wheelchair with my ankles crossed and Isla asks if I’m doing yoga. No.
Also she’s been known to tell entire restaurants when I need to use the bathroom and we need the key for it.
Memoirs and how-to from moms with disabilities:
Podcast and PDF
The podcast episode is below and the downloadable PDF is linked here and in button below (just click it: it will take you to Gumroad, where it will say “name a fair price” or something like that – feel free to put 0 in the box (and you can feel free to pay for it too – really, it’s all good and I won’t be hurt!). After you enter a number, it will take you to the next screen where you enter your email address for the download. I do not store your email address and I won’t bug you after – this is NOT a bait-and-switch thing where I say “free download” just to get your email address then harass you. NOPE! The system will then automatically send you the PDF or MP3 to download via your email).
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.