Growing up, I’m inclined to admit that I significantly lacked confidence. I spent most of my teen years completely unsure of who I was or who I wanted to be. I never appreciated my own worth or knew how to value traits others admired.
Since I’m being honest here, I can only really say that adulthood taught me to cherish myself in a way which others wouldn’t. Truthfully, it was Motherhood which taught me to like the person I was, to feel happy with what I had to offer. It upsets me now to think that I spent so much of my youth doubting myself, wishing I was different.
I’m telling you this now because I worry that I see the same in you. If there’s one mistake of mine I hope you learn from, please value yourself now whilst it matters the most!
From the day you were born, you’ve earned the title ‘strong’. Undeniably, no-one could ever doubt the strength you’ve shown, the strength you’ve needed to survive. I worry now that this has placed a level of pressure on you which makes you feel compelled to contend with. It’s almost as though you feel aware of the need to showcase your strength at all times, even at times when vulnerability would be completely expected or necessary. I wonder whether this level of pressure is forcing you to evaluate your own worth. You’re too young to be socially aware of how others expect you to act…It breaks my heart to think you already feel burdened by this at such a young age.
You’re nothing like your Brother – he’s cocky with his abilities, ready to showcase all to whomever will watch him. He craves the attention, loves to be a part of the limelight. You’re almost polar opposites! Quiet and meek, you’ve a modest demeanour quick to hide your talents. Your Brother’s tendency to seek attention has made it easy for you to take a step back.
I never realised before that children your age were capable of feeling self conscious but this is something I wholly recognise in yourself.
Your self conscious approach is most noticeable in those rare moments when all eyes are solely on you. I see you turn inwardly, recoil in embarrassment and fear. It makes me wonder whether your progress is hindered more by an emotional barrier rather than a physical one. It makes me feel incredibly sad that you lack the confidence to be proud of what you’ve achieved.
Those moments that you freeze are always the moments I feel most proud of you…proud of you for trying…proud of you for wanting. Having cerebral palsy means that there will be undoubtable moments where your brain won’t communicate effectively with your limbs. When I see you try, it shows me that your brain is working far better than we were told to prepare for.
In your short life, you’ve had more challenges than some. You’ve worked hard to meet milestones that others take for granted. Each milestone you’ve met has made me admire and respect you in ways I wish you truly knew. You don’t know ‘easy’ yet you make no fuss over what others would deem ‘hard’. There was a time when doctors were quick to call you lazy (admittedly, there were times I even used this as an excuse for your lack of physical agility). I hate that I’ve done this! Have I caused you to doubt yourself? Made you feel insecure about what you haven’t yet achieved? Have I ever made you feel anything less than miraculous?
I need you to know just how very little your disability matters to me. You’re my Daughter, my gorgeous, precious, courageous, special miracle and I will adore you eternally. I’ll adore you for the strong, intelligent, beautiful being that you already are!
Whether you can run, walk, cycle, ballet dance or fly…I’ll love you with that deep gracious love only a Mother could show. I’ll love you enough to make sure you’re always aware of your worth. I need you to know just how grateful and appreciative I am to have been blessed with you.
Recently, you’ve began making progress so quickly and eagerly. This, in turn, is where your self doubt has been exposed. The first time you attempted to crawl, we watched you drag your legs in a desperate attempt to locate a chocolate. Unable to contain our excitement, we cheered aggressively. I don’t know whether it was our raucous applauds or the realisation that you were doing something momentous which made you stop. Your face wore every inch of your embarrassment and fear. You felt it, that pressure to perform and it scared you immensely. I wish you understood that our cheers amounted from pride and love. They were meant to encourage, to show you that we believe in you and admire you so much.
If this had been an isolated moment, I may have been inclined to dismiss it but you’ve shown the same sense of embarrassment and self-awareness on more than one occasion. In spite of owning a multitude of walking aids, you’ve never shown an interest to walk independently. That was, until, you received a wooden doll’s pram for Christmas. Instinctively, you craved the ability to walk your Dolly. Your caring and Motherly instinct definitely conquered…you wanted to nurture him, Mother him in similar ways you’d seen others do. You wanted to push him to the Doctor’s!
Both your Nana and I couldn’t retain our awe as we watched you take each step without the need to hold our hands. There you were, walking independently. I couldn’t help it – I cried deeply and emotionally. I was moved completely by your strength and determination. My cries were affirmation of my love and pride, they came from a place of happiness and hope. Of course, my over-dramatic reaction caused you to fret. Self-consciousness devoured you and you were left, once again, feeling overwhelmed by your achievements. I’m sorry if my silly reaction made you doubt yourself, I’m sorry that I ruined it for you – made your play feel tainted by pressure.
Days later, as I tried to encourage you to try again, you told me that you felt scared.
Darling girl, please never feel scared, promise me you won’t let fear hold you back.
Myself, your Father, your Grandparents and Brother…We’re always behind you – both literally and metaphorically! we’re there, supporting you, waiting to catch you, dust you down and watch you try again. You’ve the strongest network of support around you. In whatever you do, we’ll be by your side. This won’t end with your childhood – it will extend throughout your adult life.
When you’re older and you crave independence, we’ll give you the space to show us what you’re made of. We’ll watch from afar and encourage you to grow freely but I want you to know that we’ll always be there!
What I’m trying to say Dolly, is, you may not yet know your own worth but we do! We do and we couldn’t be more inspired by you.
Together – we’ve got this! So please Dolly, don’t worry!