Raising a Girl
I have lived a life of always confirming my own personal safety. Once I had a child, the awareness grew exponentially.
Being aware of my surroundings, for safety's sake
My first experience of personal awareness started in my first job at 15 as a busser, when I wasn’t allowed to take the garbage to the dumpster in the dark alone.
The fear was still there 20 years later when I was 35, and it was our company policy to have a security guard escort me to my car after late events.
Now, in my 40’s, every empty home I enter to inspect, the first thing I do is lock the door behind me. The key goes in my pocket, I don’t wear headphones. I’m alert and aware.
My daughter is five, and has SMA
My daughter is 5 years old. She is brilliant and kind. She is the brightest part of my life. She also has Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
When weaving through the grocery store with her she says hi to everyone. Anyone that makes eye contact with her gets a direct happy greeting.
Don't talk to strangers
I am constantly telling her, do not talk to strangers. We don’t know them. Don’t say hi. Stay with me. Hold my hand. Don’t wheel off.
Silently in my head: don’t draw attention to us, a mother and a child alone.
Roaring in my heart: stay away from us.
Her dad doesn't share my fears
My husband mentioned in passing the other day that he loves how she says hi to everyone. I turned slowly. You what? You love it? I try to get her to stop doing that every day.
I shared my reasoning with him. Why my attention is on personal safety. I am aware of protecting my own body, and hers, every day. These fears had never crossed his mind.
All the what-ifs
With the reversal of Roe v. Wade I have new thoughts haunting me. The what-ifs.
I have a child that cannot protect herself. A child that has limited mobility. Her body is not strong. She cannot fight. She cannot run.
Her safety is at risk
How will she be safe? This likely won’t change for her in 5 years, in 20 years. Even if her mobility is different, as a woman, I know that the awareness will not leave.
She wants children. Preferably twins. Also, she wants her husband to stay home with them while she goes to work as a paleontologist at the Field Museum. I’m not going to break her spirit down. She’s 5. If those are her dreams, then let it be.
What are her options?
But will she be able to support a pregnancy as a diagnosed Type 1? Twins? What are her options going to be if she can’t safely carry a pregnancy?
It’s my role as her parent to fight for her. For her needs today and the ones she may have in 20 years.
She’s fought hard be here. She has overcome more obstacles at 5 than many do in a lifetime. Her body should not be governed. Her physical and mental health is the priority. She should have the same rights in any state that she chooses to live in. She deserves the same rights as her male peers.
Let the advocacy continue.
Have you found something to help you mentally cope with SMA?