We were sitting on our front porch and we watched three little girls ride by on their bikes. She watched them riding by, giggling as they went. As they disappeared around the curve she reached her little arm out and I explained they had already gone. She just kept reaching, processing everything that had just gone by her. My own eyes filled with tears as her eyes kept watching after those three girls. My baby girl cannot keep up with those girls. She might never ride a bike or run around the front yard. As she watched those girls go I wondered what she was thinking.
A questionnaire I was filling out at the doctor’s office asked if Abigail’s condition affected her relationship with others. I had never thought of it affecting her before. She is such a friendly, social little girl. But as I sat there pondering that question I thought of how much she is affected. She cannot explore her environment as a normal toddler would. She cannot socialize with other children her age because they are too fast for her, and they scare her. Yes, she is cute and a show stopper in so many ways. Yes, she can get all the attention in the room quickly. Yes, she is a social butterfly and does not mind getting attention from complete strangers. And yes, she loves all people. But how does her disability affect her socially?
Would Abigail be who she is today if she was not developmentally behind? It is hard to think of Abigail as being ‘normal.’ I cannot imagine her running around, getting into everything and talking to me in her own toddler language. Would her personality be as glowing and sweet? Would she be a calm child or one who is into everything. Would she be adventurous or cautious? I would like to think that she would be the kid climbing the walls and coloring the walls. She would be strong-willed and stubborn. She would be independent. Maybe I am glad to have a toddler who cannot move. Just the other night she literally poured out an entire bag of cheerios on the floor in a matter of seconds. I had given her the sealed bag to play with while I talked to Jordan. Neither of us were paying her any attention, and then we heard the Cheerios spilling out. They were everywhere before we knew it. That little stinker managed to open the bag and spill them all without even leaving my lap. She is a mess and a half and she knows it too!
As we watch Abigail grow day by day I realize how long she is getting. Her baby-ness is disappearing and she is turning into a little girl before our eyes. Yet, every time I talk about her for the first time I do not mention her progress or her abilities. I always tell people about her disability. I explain she cannot sit up or walk or talk. Her disability is apart of who she is. I do not do this because it defines her, but because people realize something is not quite right and it is easier to put them at ease then make them quietly question it in their minds. Yes, her disability is apart of who she is, but it is not all of who she is. Abigail is a smart, spunky, independent little bombshell. She is hilarious and the life of the party. But because she cannot do anything independently she quickly gets overshadowed by everything else going on around her.
I want Abigail to always remember this. She has the ability to do so much, and I want her to never think because of her disability she is not enough or not worthy. Yes, she will struggle. Yes, she will do things differently than everyone else. Yes, she will have things to overcome. But this will only make her stronger. It will give her a story that can only be hers to tell. Oh may her ability to do what she sets her mind triumph her disability every day!