"Can I ask you a personal question?"
Imagine getting that question almost every day of your life. Enough to where I get the knee-jerk reaction to say “No, not unless I can ask you first.” Well, that is if my knee could jerk. I’ve decided that since everyone wants to know, here it is. All in its glory. No longer will you have to wonder--about the realm of motherhood and disability, that is.
Pregnant women everywhere will tell you that they are aghast at the things people feel free to do and say to them as they are with child. Strangers come up and see it as their right to touch the women's tummies without asking questions. Here are some examples of that same kind of "entitlement" to know everything.
No, it doesn’t hurt.
I was working full-time when I was pregnant with our child. My husband and I had worked different shifts. I’d come home after midnight and he’d leave before 8 a.m. We didn’t see much of each other our early years of marriage. Our way of connection was during my dinner break.
Every day, I’d call him on the phone while eating my dinner. After hanging up the phone one time, my co-worker said to me, "Does he hurt you?" My ears weren’t sure what I was hearing. I said “What?” She said again, “Does he hurt you?" I said “What do you mean?” She says, “When you have sex.”
I was beyond appalled that she could fathom to think of asking me such a question. Dying inside, I wanted to say “Oh my gosh! Does your husband abuse you, shall I call 911?” After all, isn’t that what she means? The only way someone would hurt you sexually is if it’s abusive, right?
Instead, being the dignified disabled citizen I want to be portrayed as, all I said was, “No, he doesn’t hurt me.” Then I tried to defuse any more conversation with her. I don’t feel the need to ask an able-bodied person about their sex life. Why should they?
I don’t hatch eggs.
Yes, there are many ways to have a child these days. There’s adoption, fertilization, by cesarean birth and straight out of the womb, to just name a few. Each journey is individual and private. Does it really matter? A family is God-given and He wants the unit to be united and reflective of His love. Why does it really matter how you’ve been blessed to be given your child? As long as it it legal.
Yet, it still matters to people who do not have a disability. They still ask those questions like, “Did you have your daughter naturally?” I’m sure you, the reader, would never ponder these questions and especially wouldn’t have the gall to ask me out loud.
What’s natural? Cheetos aren't natural but milk is. Are you implying that my daughter isn’t natural? Is she processed? Did Nabisco cook her up in some factory?
I’m in my 40s, not 4.
That high-pitched, over-excited voice will never escape my head. We had attended a small church for over three years and had been pretty involved in it. One time in the hallway, a lady whom I’ve had several conversations with in the past, exclaimed so excitedly in that I’m-talking-to-a-four-year-old voice of how happy she was to see me today and how glad she was that I came.
Dying inside (again), I just smiled and thought to myself, “Wow, really?” Saying thanks, I walked away.
Really, you don’t need to be so astonished to see me. After all, there are only about 200 people that attend the same service each Sunday. Our kids go to the same class.
I may mobile around at the height of an average standing 7-year-old, but really, I did earn that bachelor’s degree, bought my first house at 27, supported my family as the sole income provider, so please don’t talk to me like I’m four when I’m really in my 40s--a grown adult in my own right like you!.
I didn’t realize I was so invisible.
I’m a mom, just like you. I have feelings, wishes, dreams, hopes, plans and motherly duties. Yes, I may be a mom with an apparent disability, but I’m still a mom, raising a wonderful child.
So as you update your status on Facebook about the awesome things you did with your girlfriend that you invited over to your house, or that late-night rendezvous with “a friend” at Wal-mart or having that tea party--don’t forget one thing. It hurts that you never invite me.
Just because I use a wheelchair doesn’t mean I don’t have my own brain to figure out how to visit your home and it doesn't mean I can't go shopping with you.
Yes, I’m not driving, but it’s not because I can’t physically, that is. It’s because my vehicles cost about $30,000 more than what you paid for yours. A modest family on our income can’t afford a $60,000 vehicle just for the luxury of me being able to drive. So my husband will drive me. And he won’t even listen in on our conversations.
Don’t you sweat the details. I’m adult enough to know how to do it myself. I’ve invited you on park dates and shopping sprees--don’t forget to return the favor.
I’m not invisible. I just have to do things differently.
So, what was that personal question you wanted to ask?