By Lyllyan Blare
When my daughter receives an invitation to a party, I’m usually excited. I’m thrilled for her and look forward to us having fun together while celebrating a special occasion, usually a birthday.
Recently, however, an invitation came for the party of a slightly older friend who was having her event at a roller-skating rink. Now, there are several physical activities I miss doing since becoming disabled—water skiing, hiking and roller skating being a few. And there are times when I feel guilty about my inability to instruct my daughter in not only these, but also other activities such as hula-hooping and jumping rope. Before receiving the skating party invite I would have told you that I would love to take my daughter to the roller rink. But I quickly found that to be untruthful when faced with this party.
Seeing the invite, the words “roller-skating rink” kept jumping out at me as if mocking my inability to participate, to show my daughter how to skate, to enjoy this activity with her. At least, that was my initial perception. I knew that I could get on the rink with her in my power chair if the building had a portable ramp, but was wrapped up in anxiety over being stared at and put on display. I worried about my little girl not enjoying herself because of people staring and pointing. I didn’t want to be the object of discussion; I just wanted to party at the rink with my kid.
A voice of clarity
I explained all of my worries and stress to a dear friend. She listened patiently before saying, “You know, Lylly, if anyone does stare then perhaps it’ll be kids who’ll look at your daughter with longing, wishing their parents were on the rink with them. Or if adults stare, maybe it’ll be because you’re out there with your daughter instead of sitting on the sidelines watching.” BAM! I hadn’t considered that at all!
On the day of the party, I asked to speak to the manager and he put out the portable ramp. My daughter held on to the back of my power chair and we went around slowly so she could adjust to the feeling of being on skates. Her friend, the birthday girl herself, wanted to hang on as well and so the three of us went round and round. We had such a great time! I forgot all about the other people at the rink and was delighted to be out there with my little one and her friend. The few times I looked at anyone, they were either smiling as we passed them or obviously into their own conversations and not paying us one bit of attention.
When that invitation arrived, I allowed myself to forget that this life is our normal. Being stared at is normal, to the point that we often don’t even notice it (and I tend to notice it more than my five-year-old, anyway). I almost worried myself silly and, if my friend hadn’t helped me to gain a new perspective, I would have shown up at the party feeling stressed instead of ready to take on the rink! It doesn’t matter how I spend time with my daughter—it matters that I do spend time with her. And we usually have a blast, just as we did at the skating rink. In fact, it’s on our summer to-do list as a place to return and enjoy one another’s company!
Lyllyan Blare is Mom to a wonderful five-year-old, who enjoys sitting on her mom’s lap and racing downhill at six miles per hour in her power chair! Blare is currently an advocate for the ever-expanding population of parents with disabilities and has her own blog at ModifiedMama.com.