Editor's Note: This series features a panel of women with various disabilities and mobility challenges who share their personal experiences with motherhood, and resources that other women can use to overcome and cope with those challenges.
For many women, the privilege of being a mother comes with both beautiful moments they get to experience while raising a child, and fears and stressors the responsibility entails. For women with disabilities, especially those who have mobility challenges, the excitement of accomplishing the tasks that come with motherhood and overcoming the stressors and fears is even more significant because of the barriers they face.
By sharing their own life experiences, guidance and resources with others, peer support helps people understand that their challenge is not unique to them. It offers an opportunity to meet new friends with whom they can relate and to overcome life challenges.
Today we meet Margarita, a mom of three (and a grand-mom of three!) who has a spinal cord injury- and a lot of love and compassion.
When I woke up from a coma 14 years ago after suffering a Spinal Cord Injury, I was told that I would be facing the possibility of being paralyzed from the neck down, being dependent on a breathing machine and never being able to speak again, The bullet from the gunshot wound to my neck had pierced my vocal cords. All I could think about was how I was going to be a mother to my three kids that were only 13, 8 and 7 at the time.
Lying motionless in an ICU bed surrounded by pillows while wearing a massive halo, with tubes plugged into numerous parts of my body, I was devasted that I couldn’t just hug my kids and tell them everything was going to be okay. All I could do was watch their frightened reactions, tears rolling down their faces. All I could do was mouth the one thing I knew they would understand. I looked into their eyes. I love you.
Now that they are 27, 22 and 21 years old, I can reflect on the past 14 years of memorable moments, milestones, and trials that have made them solid, wise, loving and compassionate adults. My two daughters became my caregivers at a very young age. My son learned to be the man of the house as I navigated through my recovery, dependent on them for basic needs while still maintaining the authority and title of ”Mom”. Having the nurturing roles flopped was very difficult. What held us together was our love and faith in the Lord and each other. I was able to raise them successfully and proudly as a single mom.
Part of their upbringing came with watching me and my involvement with peer support, volunteering in the community and serving in church. My oldest daughter, Trsia, continues to be my primary caregiver and I help her raise her three daughters. My second daughter, Kayla, is a teacher's assistant working with students with disabilities, and my son Mario is in the Army. All three volunteer with non-profit Rolling With Me. I am confident that while I have not been able to offer them the traditional nurturing and care that comes with motherhood, there is no legacy more powerful than love and compassion.