When I was young, other kids occasionally made fun of me for being short or walking differently or using a wheelchair.
My mom helped me emotionally and intellectually understand a world that could be unfair and discriminatory.
She always took the time to talk to me about how this made me feel, letting me cry, but not letting me get stuck feeling bad for myself.
I’m what you call a Little Person and was born without femur (thigh bones) and knees.
As a disabled woman (or not, for that fact), I really couldn’t have asked for a better mom. But she was tailor-made to see me through this challenge.
She explained that people’s questions were out of curiosity, and that cruelness was out of the other person’s own feelings of inadequacy.
She’s the one who taught me compassion and patience – but also to stand up for myself when I wasn’t being treated fairly.
I soaked up her feminist values and they served me well especially during those teenage years of self-angst.
Rather than trying to live up to a beauty standard I’d never meet, mom had me focused on pursuing my dreams and encouraged me to “Subvert the Dominant Paradigm” (our favorite bumper sticker!), which I’ve been working at ever since.
In those formative years, my mom not only influenced me, but showed many of my friends that there are different ways of thinking and different ways of doing things.
She was often described as a fairy, floating through our house in flowy skirts, the smell of incense in the air, Loreena McKennitt coming through the stereo. Our house was peaceful and kind of magical, actually. A safe place to grow and reflect for me – and many others.
Thanks to her lessons and her example, I’m happy with who I am. Thanks to her, I don’t think I’m messed up or inadequate because I’m different.
Actually, I know I’m awesome because I’m different.
Thanks to her, I’m still chasing my dreams. When I’m a mom, all I can hope is that my child will say the same of me.
Photo credit: wedding photos by Steve Stockin