There's a new commercial out from Olympic sponsor P&G in honor of the upcoming Paralympics (the opening ceremony is March 7). Part of their Thank you, Mom campaign, it shows a variety of athletes, and applauds the moms who enable and encourage them.
The end of the commercial states, "The world's toughest moms raise the world's toughest kids."
Raising tough kids: Yes, that's what we do. But I got to thinking about whether moms like me really deserve the honor of being the toughest moms on the planet.
Realities I'm sure many of you can relate to: I have been through a certain trauma with Max's birth, and I've become stronger for it. I have learned to be pit-bullish when necessary about getting Max the therapies he needs—and getting the insurance company to pay for them. I work; juggle medical and therapy appointments; and tend to Max's basic needs including dressing, feeding and bathing while teaching and encouraging him to help himself. I expend serious psychic and emotional energy getting people to understand Max and see him for the awesome kid he is, and lifting myself up when I'm dejected. And I am able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound! OK, not, though plenty of days I do feel like this:
At times, it is really, really hard. Still, I do not think of myself as particularly tough. Because I'm surrounded by a cushion of support—from my husband, sitters, and the therapists and medical specialists on Team Max. Because I have resources, from the amazing school Max attends to the fact that insurance does cover therapies (in theory, at least). Because Dave and I both work and we have means. (For the record, he's one tough dad.)
Sometimes, I think about moms of children with disabilities in developing nations; they face mountains I never will. Unicef's 2013 Children With Disability report noted that in many countries, children with disabilities (there are an estimated 93 million of them worldwide) are largely institutionalized, abandoned or neglected. Perceptions of them are rooted, as the report notes, "in negative or paternalistic assumptions of incapacity, dependency and difference that are perpetuated by ignorance." These kids are often cut off from public services and resources.
Imagine having to be an advocate for your child in one of those countries. Imagine having no Early Intervention or insurance coverage or people in your life who see your child's potential. When you consider that, it seems like those women are the world's toughest moms. (One way to help: the UNICEF fund for kids with disabilities in developing countries created by Lucy Meyer, 14, who has CP; she's raised $120,300 so far.)
This isn't a competition, though. So, OK, I'll take the props: I'm one of the world's toughest moms. But make no mistake, I am also one of the lucky ones.
Images: Screen grab/P&G Thank You, Mom Sochi 2014 video; Lynda Carter, Wikimedia Commons