Please join me in welcoming our new Raising Wheels Blog Contributor, Melissa Mays! She will be contributing to our monthly column called “Just Roll With It!” which will provide insight into the “not-so-humorous-but-we’ll-make-it-funny-so-we-don’t-cry” moments of this so called life of raising our differently abled children on wheels. Here’s her take on the hardship of accepting help and why it’s so important to take the help and JUST ROLL WITH IT!
“One day, not so very long ago I came to the realization that I was a snob when it came to accepting offers of help. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the offers because I most certainly do. A stranger offering to help me load Abigail’s chair into the vehicle is enough to completely make the rest of my day bright and happy, but at the same time I always assumed they were offering only because they felt obligated and not because they actually expected me to take them up on the offer. I am fully aware of what I look like as I am getting ready to lift Abigail’s chair into the back of the car. I take a few deep breaths while assuming a bent knee stance and my facial expression turns determined as I remind myself to use my legs, not my back. So, naturally if someone is walking by observing some lady looking like she’s getting ready to intimidate a wheelchair by performing a Haka chant, they would feel the polite thing to do was ask if she needed help lifting.
For years, I’ve sweetly declined those parking lot offers. I would give them my thanks followed by a comment along the lines that I’ve got it. It takes skill to be able to lift and load a 60-pound wheelchair. The angle has to be just right in order to push that bad boy into the vehicle where it snugly fits so the hatch door can shut. Honestly, I thought it would be more trouble getting someone else to lift if they didn’t know the art of the correct angle. Readjusting the chair after it’s already in the back can actually be more strenuous than the
initial heave ho.
But one day, I saw an elderly man patiently waiting nearby as I transferred Abigail out of the wheelchair and into the vehicle. He approached me as I pushed the chair to the back and opened up the hatch. Then he asked if I needed any help. My drone reply of declining the offer was about to reach my lips when I stopped myself. He wasn’t offering due to obligation. He walked out of his way across the parking aisle and waited for the perfect moment to make his gesture of kindness. This time I accepted the help. It surprised me how feather light the chair felt and he flawlessly followed my lead on getting it into the right angle. I took a step back and let him make the final push to clear the chair of the hatch door and my heart melted at the huge grin on his face. He jokingly exaggerated dusting his hands off in a clapping motion after he slammed the door closed and I saw joy radiate all through his face.
I shook his hand and the only words that came out of my mouth were, “Thank you, Sir. I appreciate it.” I couldn’t express the gratitude I felt toward him for completely changing my outlook. How many opportunities to make someone’s face fill with joy had I squandered over the years? Sure, I had a great day after someone offered their assistance, but what had I offered to their day by declining? And how many times could that good feeling I had upon being asked been multiplied by accepting their help and seeing the satisfied look of happiness on their faces? That final push the elderly man had given to the chair was a game changer for me. All I had to do was accept their act of human kindness. No, I don’t NEED the help, but now I know I sure can use it. I can be a blessing simply by allowing someone else to give me a blessing.
It took me a while to see it, but sometimes the best way to roll with it is allowing someone else, even a stranger in a parking lot, to give a little push along the way.”
I am a forty-ish year old wife and mother who has lived in Waco, Texas for a little over 20 years. I will be the first to tell you our life has room for improvement, but I’ve been accomplishing the mom thing for almost 18 years. By the time Abigail was 11 we figured we weren’t totally inept at this parenting gig, so we had another kid making me the mom of a girl and a boy. My Abigail is the one with the wheels; my six year old Jedi has a knack of keeping the wheels in my mind spinning; my husband of 24 years keeps all the wheels, real and metaphorical, balanced; and together it creates a perfect combination where we manage to make it through each day. As a mom raising a child on wheels, I have learned a few things along the way. One of the main things is I have a lot more to learn. One of the most important things is that life can be hard and will be even harder if we don’t find a way to just roll with it.