I’m just a mom. I’m not a politician, I’m not a public speaker, I’m not a professional debater. I have no education in how to be an advocate. I’m learning as I go and I’ve been a steep learning curve lately.
I’m a mom with a passion for safe, quality care for our most vulnerable community members.
From the time I was a kid, I remember being friends with the kids in my neighborhood who had disabilities. I say that now but at the time I never thought about them as having disabilities. They were just my friends.
One girl was deaf and wore her hearing aid (I think it was a hearing aid – I don’t really know, it was just part of what came with her) on a harness strapped to her chest with wires going to her ears. She couldn’t really talk but I remember spending a lot of time with her playing in the yard.
Another one of my friends had artificial legs and deformed arms. She used to go to my elementary school until about 3rd grade and then she was sent to another school. I have no idea where she went but occasionally I see her around the old neighborhood. It has to be her – there couldn’t be too many people with the same issues. I remember trying to roller skate with her. I have no idea why she had to go to another school – maybe I should ask my mom about her and find out.
One of my very good friends had a brother who had to use a wheelchair. Again, I have no idea why and didn’t care. We played with him and he let us use his chair and we’d like to pretend we needed it sometimes too. He was just one of the crowd and he was either in his chair or rolling of the floor. That’s just who he was.
My next door neighbor had to go to school on a special bus yet our elementary school was a half block from our house. I wonder where he went – he seemed perfectly normal to me.
This is just a sample of my friends – people were just people.
Later in high school, one of my best friends had a tumor that grew from her face and she only had one eye. I never saw it – I only saw her. I forgot that others may see her differently and sometimes was told “why didn’t you tell me she had that on her face?” after introducing her to people. I didn’t because I didn’t see it and it never occurred to me to point it out or warn people.
Advocating and caring for those less able is not something I do because I have a son who has an intellectual and functional disability, it’s something that I have done my whole life. I do not speak up about my passion for safe care because my son needs it – I speak up because it’s the right thing to do. Sure, sometimes my emotions get out of control – but again, I’m a mom. What mom has not let her emotions get in the way sometimes?
I care deeply about safe, quality care – not only for our son but for all of our most vulnerable community members. I need to be the voice for our son and his peers.
I speak from my heart – not always the best approach in our world but that’s who I am.