As Winter’s arrival looms over Fall’s last remaining leaves, my mind conjures up Rockwell-type images of steaming mugs of wassail waiting on a table near a cozy fire. My family, bundled up for the falling snow, is outside building a snow family. We smile as neighbors notice the perfectly sculpted snow girl is in a wheelchair and we join hands knowing we are doing our part in bringing advocacy and awareness about a world full of people with differing abilities- and then reality smacks me across the face. We don’t have a fireplace, my kids hate wassail, and this part of Texas rarely sees more than a dusting of snow. The only thing we’ve succeeded in making our neighbors aware of is that when the kids and I leave the house it’s always in a hurry and includes desperate hollers to catch the escaping cat as we try to pile out the door all at once. On cold mornings that commotion is sometimes followed by screeches as I perform a daring impromptu Ice Capades scene sliding down the ice-covered wheel chair ramp. Spoiler alert: I rarely stick the landing.
After years of these kinds of trials, I have decided that this year I am going to
do better. I have come up with a few things to help me help my family roll through winter a little more easily:
Rule #1: Get ready earlier than usual and use the extra time to check the wheelchair ramp for ice. Keep a container of rock salt at the top of the ramp and apply those magical bruise reducing crystals liberally to any area that looks like it could possibly be slick. This is no time to use product sparingly, budget be darned. I will be dousing each suspected slick spot and will no longer test any area first by putting my foot on it and shifting my weight. Too many times that method has landed me at the bottom of the ramp faster than a dare devil being shot out of a cannon. Dare devils make sticking a landing look way easier than it really is.
Rule #2: This is the year I will master the finesse of layering clothing. I think the optimum layers will create a perfect balance of keeping Abigail warm while allowing plenty of gripping space to pick her up for transfers. Puffy coats are adorable, but restricting. They create a mummifying effect making it even harder for our kids to lean or bend as we hoist them from one location to another. I have found that losing my grip and dropping my kid in front of strangers is embarrassing. And when I am embarrassed, I tend to do awkward things like jokingly asking someone to grab her ankles while I grab her arms for a swing into the seat on the count of three. Strangers don’t know how to react to that. You may be asking why I couldn’t just take the puffy coat off her to make the transfer easier. I could, even though it isn’t at all convenient, but then I run the risk of some little Grandma seeing Abigail without a coat. She will gasp and place her hand over her heart as she blesses mine. My pleas of, “It’s not even that cold!” will be met with, “Well, how do you know, Dear? I see you have on a coat.” Trust me, I don’t want that to happen again and I will avoid the cringing Granny guilt by layering. For a reassuring finishing touch those layers will be topped off with a thick, hand-knitted scarf that will make any grandma proud.
Rule #3: I will be wearing a puffy coat myself. Loading and unloading her wheelchair puts me out in the elements for longer periods of time so I will need the extra warmth. Warm muscles are stronger muscles. I realize I will be running the risk of hearing clucking tongues when passersby see Abigail in mere layers while I am living it up in “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” goose down comfort, but I have found that all that puffy padding is ideal when I arrive home after a long day, ascend the wheelchair ramp and inexplicably find myself lying on the ground in a fetal position after cannon balling down the incline.
You know what? Rule #4 (Repeat Rule #1): I think I will add keeping additional rock salt at the bottom of the wheelchair ramp to my list. Bring it, Old Man Winter. I am ready to roll with it.
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.