Recently I went to a friend's house for lunch. I haven't seen her in a long time because of my illness. She has two children now. A little girl who is four, and a boy who is about fifteen months. I could feel butterflies in my stomach the morning we had lunch. My nerves came from the worry her kids would be scared of my wheelchair. I know this is silly because time and time again kids prove to be the most accepting, least judgemental of any of us, but trepidation still ruled my thoughts. I rehearsed answers to possible four year old questions and conceded that her kids may just be frightened and timid.
I arrived and was immediately confronted with just how wrong I was...I couldn't have been more off base. Her daughter ran out to say hello and then asked me if she could walk with me to the car to get the rest of my stuff. She and I put together puzzles and talked about the colors pink and yellow. My wheelchair was really not a concern to her. I met her son, the little fifteen month old boy, and he is everything a boy that age should be, busy, sweet, playful, and into everything. Right away he started playing with the spokes on my wheels and a few minutes later, while chatting with Ashlea, I started to feel myself move and turned around to see his little self pushing the chair. He had one hand on each wheel and was pushing them forward, gaining quite a bit of momentum. Ashlea, who is an incredible mom, asked him to stop right away and I asked her to allow him to continue. I was astounded and overjoyed to witness him, not only exhibiting great ease with my chair, but embracing it. It was now a toy with wheels and he was going to push it, climb on and through it and try to discover every inch of it. It was a moment where I felt fear literally leave my body and worry trotted off right behind it. Sure, fear and worry left little pieces behind, but they took their main course and walked out of the door. I wonder how I will play with my kids, I always do, I wonder if I will be enough for them, but this past Friday, I realized I don't have anything else to worry about than the average parent. I may take a bit longer or can't reach as high, but kids don't care about those things. They just want someone to love them, spend time with them, teach them, and nurture them. How I look, whether or not I am sitting down or standing up, it doesn't matter...in fact, the wheels seem to be a playground all of their own.
Towards the end of the lunch, her little boy managed to squeeze himself under my chair while exploring and ended up stuck. We wiggled him out amidst great laughter and I left feeling more assured than ever that I am well and able and my dreams are truly possible.
A few days later, Ashlea texted me and explained as she was putting strawberries on her daughter's plate, her daughter asked, "Are these strawberries from Sarah Berger?". I brought fruit for lunch that day and now apparently all fruit in their home is from "Sarah Berger".
During some of my darkest days I actually started considering not having children and convincing myself I didn't want them. Me, the Pied Piper, didn't want children. Their well being weighs heavily on my mind. While I don't think I am one hundred percent confident, I am sure, very sure, that children don't see a difference, they just see a person, a mom.
Thank you Katelynn and Jackson for teaching me this one more time.