Raising children is tough. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
There are the highs of those warm snuggles, belly laughs, and memories you know you will cherish forever. Then there are the lows, the moments when you think, “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.”
No matter where you are on your parenting journey right now, feel comforted knowing that some of history’s greatest minds were exactly in your shoes once.
Our wonderful son was born with IVF support seven years ago. It was certainly a ‘normalising experience’ for us as we quickly realised that we were just one of so many different couples going through the same IVF process.
Even before his birth, my wife and I agreed that I had to become as self-sufficient as possible in fathering our son. As a result, he has become more independent than many others his age. He knows how to change the wheels of my wheelchair. He knows how to pump up the car tyres at the petrol station. Some of the things I really struggle to do, he does.
We are a formidable combination!! Neither of us on our own can reach the top kitchen cupboards to get chocolates and other yummy stuff but working together nothing is out of our reach.
Like any parent, there have been challenges. Before he was born, I accidentally drove my wheelchair over our dog’s tail who now has a permanent kink in her tail as a constant reminder of the mishap. Imagine then my fears of having a small baby in the house. As soon as our son started becoming mobile, I would use the camera on my phone to see where he was.
When our son was small, he learned very early how to scale my wheelchair. It was a jungle gym. The back frame of my wheelchair is a perfect height to use as a walking trainer. My son would grab the back of my chair and if I didn’t realise he was there, I’d take off.
When he was toddler and sitting on my lap, my field of vision would sometimes be partly obscured. We were going to a movie together when he was four years old and I completely forgot about an obstacle I knew was on the pathway. The front wheels of my chair hit the bump and I suddenly stopped, but my son didn’t and he was catapulted out of my lap.
He also liked to ride on the hydraulic hoist I use to get in and out of bed until one day I could hear him calling out to me for help. He had put the hoist up to its maximum height and dropped the remote controls and he couldn’t lower himself down.
I know there are limitations to what my son and I can do together but trust me, we push the boundaries every single day. My son has grown up with his dad being in a wheelchair. I think he feels like he has a special dad because all the children his age want to play with my chair.
On one of my son’s birthdays, his friends were invited to join the celebrations at our home and my wife went to considerable effort setting up various party games. Unfortunately, she could only watch on in dismay when the party goers just wanted to play on my spare wheelchair rather than take part in the activities she had spent so much time putting together.
It really was fun watching my son in the wheelchair because he is just a natural. He automatically understands where my wheelchair can and can not go. I continue to be led by my son’s curiosity and interests in achieving successful wheelchair parenting.
I know there are some limitations to what my son and I can do together but trust me, we push the boundaries every single day.