Ever since I can remember, I dreamed of becoming a mother. But at age 20, that dream seemed forever shattered when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
I felt alone and hopeless against a progressive disease with no known cure; I still yearned to be a mother even as I lost the ability to walk without assistance. Against the odds, at age 30, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I dearly love being a mother, and I absolutely hate my daily fight of living with MS. I believe that beauty and turmoil can coexist.
Motherhood had a beautiful beginning for me. I felt fortunate to be able to hold, comfort, sing, and read to my daughter for hours on end. There were so many glorious moments during those hours, when I would gaze in awe at her peacefulness. As she grew a bit older, she returned my gazes and compassion with her own smiles and expressions of warmth.
Our family often sees the world together by car. As a new mom, I would see groups of moms walking with their babies and I longed to be with them for companionship. Instead, I felt like an observer in my car. Although my MS had somehow improved a bit after my daughter’s birth and I could manage to push her stroller on short, slow, and often exhausting walks, I felt isolated in my slower world.
My daughter is now 4 years old. She returns my affection with hugs and her own statements of “I love you.” To keep up with her, I often use a wheelchair. She sometimes rides on my lap, giggling when we go down hills and anxiously anticipating pressing any automatic door opener she can find. We enjoy going to the park together, but I depend on others to lift and push her on most swings as I cannot. I watch and smile while she climbs the stairs of playground equipment and laughs with joy going down slides. She does not see the tears I hide at watching rather than doing. Yet she mostly seems to understand my world of turmoil, my hatred of not feeling able to fully participate. She tells me, “Mommy, I wish you could play with me” and cries sometimes when I cannot push her on a swing. We talk about how we still do play; incredibly, my 4 year can give turmoil compassion.
Recently I had an MS exacerbation, when symptoms of MS flare and I hope they disappear rather than remain permanent. My body grew numb. I could not stand on my right leg. Finally I lost my sense of balance on my left side and plunged full-tilt against our bathroom mirror with my face. In that moment, tears streaming down my face, I wondered how I could get through this turmoil. But then a simple, young voice entered the room. “Mommy, I hurt my finger…can you kiss it better?” Yes, I can fix that. I believe that beauty and turmoil can coexist. I hope that beauty will prevail.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.