The Need to be Super Mommy … in a Wheelchair

BEST of SHETROIT …

We ran Tameka’s story in 2012 after she had her FIRST-born Miles. We’re featuring it now on the occasion of her SECOND child, Naima, starting to walk … (GO Tameka!)

 

I’m the type of young woman who always wanted a family.

As a little girl, I played with baby dolls, feeding and changing their diapers and loving every moment of it.

In adulthood, before I had a child, I had positive reinforcement as I saw my sisters and brothers growing up into wonderful human beings who are now 11, 14 and 17 years old.  So I knew that my intention to be a good mother and raise a healthy and well-balanced human being was doable.

However, as all new mommies know, fantasy and reality are two different things.

I fantasized about being pregnant for the first time and delivering a little me – the twist is that I’m in a wheelchair, paralyzed from my waist down.

I held close to my heart that in my reality, a person with a disability knows how to adapt to any situation.

Care giving from my wheelchair means lots of upper body lifting.

But I wondered just how different from fantasy my role as mommy was going to be.

In fantasy, I thought whenever I would discover I was pregnant, I would nearly faint from the fact that, yes, it could and did happen to me.

In reality, I was shocked and happy – thrilled actually when I gave birth to little Miles. Especially since it was under the best circumstances – I had met the man of my dreams who would be a great father and husband. He is and that’s a huge plus.

Or how would I deliver my baby, natural birth or c-section? I couldn’t push so I delivered C-section (interestingly, about one mother in three gives birth by cesarean section).

In fantasy, I wondered how I would take care of a child from my wheelchair.  I had an idea – and I knew I could do it.

However, there would be things I needed to figure out. For example, since I’m wheelchair bound, I needed to find out how I could use a crib, take Miles in-and-out of the car and pick him up off the bed or all the other twisting, turning and bending that parents do!

I believe I’ve adapted well – with my strong upper body and arms I can lift and lean with the best of them. (For instance, to turn Miles over I will stand him up and then put an arm on the handle bar of my wheelchair to brace myself and then bend over and turn him.)

People may look at women with disabilities and question their motherhood, “How are you going to run after a baby?“.

I still have some time before I face that question but when it comes to taking care of my child I am determined that I will make a way out of no way.

I’ve relied on several websites for parents with disabilities that offer adaptation suggestions. I’ve compiled a list below.

Another fantasy I had was the need to be Super Mommy, not really giving a thought to how my mothering would happen from a wheelchair. I wanted to devour everything I could on how to take care of a child. I wanted to do everything right.

Importantly, over time, my intensity around taking care of my baby myself has softened into an understanding that I do need help sometimes. My family members along with my best friend have been a wonderful support in helping me learn my boundaries around – not so much what I can do – but how I do them.

My beautiful son, Miles Bomani Spruce, is nearly 8 months old now, and the intention of being a Super Mommy has faded away.

 

 

Here are some resources within the disability community that I have found helpful in my parenting:

Center for Research on Women with Disabilites has several areas of interest on their site:

Christopher Reeve Foundation has a very thorough listing of websites for “Parenting with a Disability”

Through the Looking Glass has numerous helpful areas of interest for parents with disabilities. 

Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children: This is extended reading; it explores the pervasive prejudices faced by parents with disabilities in the U.S. and offers solutions.

Tameka

About Tameka

Detroiter Tameka Citchen-Spruce is an activist within the disabilities community. She's president of Women Empowered: Council for Women with Physical Challenges, whose mission is to teach entrepreneurial skills and provide supportive services for women with disabilities in Metro Detroit. With a journalism degree from Oakland University Tameka produces short films and documentaries and intends to start filming a documentary on "Redefining Beauty." She's married to a man she describes as wonderful and has two young children who remind her to love herself as much as she loves them.

, , ,

6 Responses to The Need to be Super Mommy … in a Wheelchair