The Broken and the Beautiful

In 1983, when my mom found out she was pregnant, the decision to keep the baby or not was not an easy one. A close relative was the first to suggest she abort and move on with her life, and my mom’s boyfriend said he’d go along with whatever she decided. She was 19. She was pro-choice. She was unwed. She was a college student working at a fast food restaurant… and she was a woman with a strong heart. She decided to keep the baby. My mom and dad got married, and I was born that October. They had no idea before my birth that I had any disability, and due to the rarity of the defect, the doctors had no idea what they were dealing with. I had “stork bites” (blood vessels close to the surface) on my face, and those combined with the disfigurement of my arms caused the doctors to give my young parents the grim diagnosis: I was blind, mentally challenged, I would never walk or be independent, the list went on. We’re not sure what all they said, because my mom says she just sort of tuned out at a certain point. Understandable. Continue reading

Google Glass the Ultimate in Accessible Tech

Can you imagine what it would be like if you had to kick your shoes off and plop down on the floor in the middle of the grocery store in order to answer your phone? Or to be unable to take pictures while standing or walking? I have a disability, and I don’t have to imagine; it’s my reality. I use my feet instead of hands for many things, and it works alright for me. But let’s face it: feet aren’t hands, and often I find myself frustrated fiddling with technology that was not designed for someone like me. How many photos and conversations I’ve missed out on. For me to use a smartphone, I must be seated, stationary, and shoeless. As the mom of a toddler, such peaceful moments are few.

That is why I am beyond excited that Google Glass is on the horizon, and that I’ve been invited to be a part of their Glass Explorers program, which allows me to test the technology before its public release.

I am guest posting over at Squiish today. Follow me there to read the rest.

Click here to see how much money we’ve raised for my Google Glasses!

 [gfmdonate]

“Mommy can’t.”

Ethan sat in my lap, snuggled against my chest, rambling on in toddler-speak about the stars out his window. The conversation lulled as he took my hand into his. At two years old, his hands were already larger than mine, and much, much stronger.

I was born with a rare congenital birth defect called Arthrogryposis. In the womb, my arms didn’t move enough to develop proper muscle tone and the joints from my shoulders to fingertips locked into place.

Growing up, as I learned to eat, write, drive and live using my feet like hands, I didn’t often wonder what sort of life I’d have. I felt like a normal girl, so why wouldn’t I have a normal life? Only now do I understand how lucky and rare I am. I am a mother with a physical disability.

Ethan intently studied my hand, then his own. He flexed and extended his fingers, then tried to force mine to do the same; they don’t. In despair, he sighed and looked up at me with his dark chocolate eyes. “It’s not working,” he broke the news. “It needs batteries.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at such a precious assessment, but it was the first time he’d really noticed that Mommy is different. I couldn’t help but wonder what other questions would come, and whether I’d be able to communicate answers that he could understand. Answers I don’t even understand.

I am guest posting over at Bloom today… follow me there to read the rest of this post!

Capable, Until Proven Otherwise

There are lots of parents out there — with and without disabilities — who have no business being parents. Plenty of people who should have their children taken away, no doubt about it. But how do we, as a society with laws and regulations to protect families, decide who is or is not a fit parent, and when to intercede on a child’s behalf? If a criminal suspect is considered to be innocent until proven guilty, it would make sense that we would extend at least that much respect to a parent whose abilities are in doubt. But it’s not that way. Continue reading