March is your month. Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. During this month, most state your facts and statistics to increase one’s knowledge of who you are and what you look like. Some may choose to bring to light your darker side, the hardship you cause and the pain you inflict on innocent bodies while others may choose to spread what a fortunate circumstance you have been to the lives of those who know you personally. I choose to take the bad with the good because without one there is not the other. No matter how I view you on a daily basis, no matter how angry I am to see your hindering ways within my daughter, or how joyful I am of her triumphs over you, I am very aware of you Cerebral Palsy... more aware of you today than I ever hoped to be.
It’s been 3 years now since you felt the need to make yourself known and grace my innocent daughter with your life long presence. I’ll hand it to you - you had us sitting on rock bottom after our baby’s diagnosis but only for a little while as this small family of three was bound and determined to not be beaten. More importantly, the child you chose to inflict with global delays, right-sided weakness and spastic muscles has been thriving and kicking your butt ever since she met you.
Thanks to you, it’s taken a team of professionals to help Rob and I raise this girl of ours. We could have never begun this unforeseen journey on our own. We count this as part of your good, just one of the many blessings in our lives. Because of you, we have met the most sincere and compassionate therapists, doctors, teachers and everyday strangers who go out of their way to make life as normal as possible for our daughter. She has an additional 5 doctors over the child who lives a life free of you, not to mention the 6 therapists that manipulate and train her mind and body to conquer you. We are and will be forever indebted to them all.
Cerebral Palsy, because you have stolen some of the simple pleasures from Rob and I that come along with raising a typical child, you have in turn given us intangible things that are far more valuable and greater than us. Among those things, we learned very quickly to document life and appreciate movement. I will forever hold vivid memories of the first time my daughter was able to look at me clearly with both eyes and smile from behind the teeniest pair of pink glasses. I recall the first time she rolled from front to back and who was with me at the time it happened. I remember her first unassisted sit with Rob seated behind her ready to catch her fall. I remember her promising first reaches for an object with her right hand during one of her first OT sessions at just 7 months old. I’ll never forget her first claps that were captured in Christmas pictures just months after her first birthday. I remember the nerve-racking ride home from her eye surgery and witnessing the first time she looked to her right with both eyes finally aligned. I can still see her first belly creeps across the floor and her first haphazard steps with her walker when I stop to remember and I’ll never, ever forget her very first independent steps. Every goal and milestone met will be etched in my memory so long as I live as each one had to be taught and practiced over and over again until successfully mastered. In this house, dancing and excessive cheering is not reserved for just sporting events and birthday parties but rather for the tiny miracles that have happen within our own living room.
Cerebral Palsy, you have also taught us to seek the silver lining in every situation. You play an unfair game with the muscles in her little body, including those that control her eyes. However, those glasses that she so sweetly wears on her face are there because she can see, not because she can’t. The orthotic on her right foot that seems cumbersome at times and often limiting is only a daily reminder that we have a daughter who has been blessed with the gift of mobility. Her speech delays have taught us to listen with our eyes and hearts as her actions often speak louder than her utterances and unclear words. The perspective you have given us of this life will always lead us to the silver linings, no matter what.
Because of your unexpected lessons, you have bonded this tiny family with love and faith and have provided us with the indescribable feeling of pure and absolute joy. Some days I dislike you and I feel weakened by you, but most days you fill my eyes with tears of happiness and pride for the little girl you can’t slow down. Your challenging ways have made me a stronger woman, a better mother, and a more open-minded individual. You have shaped the character of my child just so, making her a tender yet hard working warrior who always wears a smile despite your presence. I know you’re here to stay because you have no cure, but don’t get too excited. My daughter has you, Cerebral Palsy - but I assure you, you do not have her.
One very proud CP momma