a blog about raising a daughter with cerebral palsy and learning unexpected lessons along the way

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Park

Normal day. Oia had an appointment with her pediatrician in the morning, we returned home, ate lunch together, then she took her usual nap. After she woke, we went to the park to enjoy some sunshine and to breathe in deep the fresh, spring-like air.

Nearing the park parking lot, I see a sea of minivans and suv's which means the park is full of kids and moms. Then it hits me. That feeling you get when you're about to walk into a new class with new faces or even the feeling you get when you're about to have a one-on-one meeting with your boss for some reason or another. Your stomach flutters and a twinge of anxiety tickles your insides. That's the feeling I got today and it came out of what seemed like nowhere. I wasn't ready for it at all.

Deep breath. We made our way past a few people and headed to the swings.

I tried to figure out this surprise attack of emotion as I shared the feeling with Rob once he got home from work. He understood me but we have no cut and dry answers. Feelings just have a mind of their own.

We have a daughter who is more capable than incapable. Her abilities outweigh her disabilities. Thank God for that. But, there's something about being at a place as freeing as the park which makes my stomach heavy every time. Kids running wildly, interacting, screaming, chasing, walking through the mud, jumping, rolling down hills, riding bikes, kicking balls and the list goes on and on. Moms mingling at the picnic tables, chatting with other moms, on cell phones, noses in a book, walking the track while kids play, just relaxing.

Then there is Oia and I. We play together. Therapy always in the back of my mind. Her safety my number one priority. I'm a hovering presence over my daughter, especially while outdoors. Not by choice but because I have to be. Her well being depends on it. A serious fall for her could very well be a setback. She is not independently mobile outdoors and there is very little she can do at the park without me. I wonder what other moms are thinking of us. I shouldn't but I often do. Do they think I'm being over-bearing, too cautious, or limiting my daughter's freedom in any way? Are they thinking, "Geez, that mom needs to back off a bit and relax! Let the girl play!"

Oia's disabilities may not stand out at first to bystanders or easily seen from a distance since Oia is not in a wheelchair or in need of a walker anymore but the park reminds me every time we go there that we are in fact different and we always will be. Playing outdoors is a physical challenge. People do stare. Kids stare too but at least kids are not afraid to ask me questions and maybe if adults weren't so afraid to ask, I wouldn't feel so anxious.

With all that said, I love our story and I'm proud of it. Our life is good. Actually, it's better than good. Our daughter is THE best. But life in the special needs world does throw you for an emotion loop when you least expect it and you just have to take it as it comes and deal with it, so I've learned.

So, today I dealt with it. Looking forward to tomorrow.


  1. I'm so envious that the weather where you are is nice enough to be spending time at the park. :)

    I'd like to say that I don't worry about what other people think when we do things like go to the park, but I do, especially as my son has gotten older. His challenges aren't always obvious initially (he suffered a brain injury at birth), so it definitely can appear like I'm hovering too much for a child his age, but I know that it's necessary. If he starts having meltdowns or starts running away from me that's when we can garner attention from others.

    I do my best to take it in stride and to try to read him before he gets to be too overwhelmed. There certainly are days where I wish we both could enjoy a "simple" day at the park like other families I see though. Some days even the idea of going to the park is just too overwhelming, and there are other days when I feel it's best to just jump in feet first and see how it goes.

    I, personally, don't do a great job of keeping up on my blog (it's purpose is to keep far away friends and family updated). Yet, I greatly appreciate reading the stories and words of wisdom on other parenting blogs. You do a great job. And your daughter is a doll. :)

  2. Mo, It used to bug me really bad, too, honey! I think time makes the sting a little less. Most times now, I rarely think about it. I used to just remind myself that I should be focusing on what she liked to do and could do and well....forget everyone else. That said, it is a painful reminder of how different our kids are but I promise with time it will be less so....