The day the Doctor confirmed you had Cerebral Palsy will always be etched in my mind – I felt calm sat in the chair staring at your MRI results. Cerebral Palsy, at least, I thought we could conquer. I had been worried for so long and had speculated so many other possibilities, the outcome felt positive and not as alien or unbeknown as some of the other potentials. I felt reassured by the Doctor’s words and although the truth was that you may never walk, everything was still possible!
In that moment, sat in the Doctor’s room, I had clung to every minute positive. Tinted overlays had glazed over my eyes, protecting me from every uncertainty.
It wasn’t until the morning after that the seriousness of your condition cascaded over me like a thick hue of darkness. Every ‘what if’, every supposition impacted upon me greatly. The notion that I may never see you walk down the aisle as a beauteous bride or walk hand-in-hand on shopping sprees galore floored me. I realised that when you were born, even through the turmoil, I’d taken for granted that I’d still have all the little things.
I’m not sure any Mother could deny the pang of excitement they experience when they learn they’re having a girl (don’t hold this part against me, I celebrated finding out I was having a boy with just as much enthusiasm but the experiences are different). Instantly, I saw us…at the family celebrations killing it on the dance floor, I saw us sharing many a cinema trip, shopping trip, meal and cocktail. I saw myself at your ballet classes cheering you on from the side, I saw myself at sports day taking pride in your athleticism (something I undoubtedly, had been denied). Never in any of my dreams had I seen you in a wheelchair, never in my wildest thoughts had I pictured you incapable of that independence I already knew you craved.
I look back now at my former self crying over these ideologies with a strong sense of sickening. How dare I be so judgemental! How dare I write your life off as though you’d accomplish less or succeed less. If only I’d known back then that all this meant was that you had more to achieve, more successes for me to witness and more hope for me to feel than I could have ever imagined.
You were – and are – after all, still my beautiful strong, determined Daughter. Please don’t think that my tears were ever for me. I cried for you! I cried that you’d never get to experience the joy of running down a bank, letting your legs tumble in the moment and the wind carry you forward. I cried that you’d never play ‘tig’ on the yard with your friends or chase the boys you fancied with daisies in your hair and love in your arms. I cried for your first dance, I cried that you’d never stand on your Daddy’s shoes as he twirled you round the living room in glee.
I cried that you’d never know life as I’d known it.
And as you grew and your disability became more prevalent, I cried for you more. I cried for the times I consoled you at soft play when the boys and girls couldn’t understand that you couldn’t keep up and left you on your own. I cried for the times you looked at the other children and asked me why you were different. I cried for the unintentionally cruel comments ‘why is she just crawling?’ and ‘put her down, it’s not healthy to smother a child her age, you shouldn’t still be carrying her’. I cried for the Birthdays you woke up convinced that a year older would have granted you the ability to walk! Oh, I cried for those moments the most.
Though the tears sound mostly through sadness, please know that there was many a tear shed through joy. I remember the day you learnt to army crawl along the floor to retrieve your toys and the time you crawled out from the row at ballet to claim your certificate. I remember the day you took 5 steps unaided between myself and my best friend whilst we were at the Baby Gym. I remember the time you entered your nativity on your KAYE Walker and made it all the way to the stage!
Every step, every milestone seemed so much more magical and baby girl, you are still firing them at me today!
I marvel at your progress, at your tenacity and resilience. I’m thankful for the first lockdown when we focused so much on your physio. I’m grateful for Heel and Toe Charity, for all the support they’ve given you!
2020 may have been a monstrous year – but not for you! Whilst most people fought their demons, you struck back in force! You went from cruising furniture to walking without it. You turned corners unaided, stood up from kneeling down.
You walked and walked and walked and walked your little socks off.
Whilst the whole world cheered Captain Tom (we did too), I had my own hero dominating my living room…and on your sixth Birthday, you woke up smiling at never having to ask the question ‘will I be able to walk?’. You turned every single doubt I’d ever thought, upside down. You took the can I’d been storing them in, opened the lid and let them trickle to the floor. Then, you stood up, walked forward and trampled on every single one of them!
I have never been so proud!
And it hasn’t just been the walking, it’s been the dancing too! Your feet know rhythm more than your mind can keep up but it doesn’t matter. You’ve nailed your signature moves and they couldn’t be any better!
I can’t wait for the shopping sprees, for the late night parties and the scandals we’ll get up to. I can’t wait for the sports days and the Paralympics when I’m there cheering you on from the sides at a far greater level than sports day could have ever been! I can’t wait for the moments we are gifted together…
And we’ll walk them hand in hand!