Being a wheelchair-bound mother of four was the last thing I could ever imagine becoming, but “poof!” Here I am, stuck in a wheelchair for life. When I married Edward, “Ed” to me, life was good. We were married in Seychelles at a rustic church on an impulse – after being together for six years, we suddenly decided to take the plunge.

The process of bringing up our four kids over the next ten years kept us on our toes, and then, the accident changed life for all of us, forever. The accident, followed by a long stint in hospital, and then back at home after being told that I wouldn’t be able to use my legs anymore just passed by in a flash. After a brief period of depression, acceptance set in. That is when I realized that there were some things to be learned as a wheelchair bound mom of four.

Down to their Level

The smaller kids, meaning my seven and five year olds, are literally on a lower level. From a wheelchair, I am now at their level, and I am able to see the world at a scale that they do. I have realized that this really helps to empathize with them in the things they do (and keeping an eye on them as well!)

The Art of Patience

An impatient person by nature, I have forced myself to become patient, because, when you have to rely on others to do stuff for you, you just can’t rush things. Some things will take their own course and will ultimately get done.

The Benefit of Planning

I found that now I could not just do things on impulse. I had to consider the wheelchair factor, even for a simple trip to the park. Today, I am just fine with the planning aspect of things – it’s a breeze! When there is an event or an outing impending, I don’t even realize that I am planning way ahead. It has become second nature for me to plan for things.

Problem Solving

Necessity, they say is the mother of invention. This, I have come to realize and experience firsthand on a daily basis, ever since I became a wheelchair bound mom of four. The kids would be all around me with “mom, this” and “mom, that”, and hey! “I only have two pairs of hands”, I would say, even before the wheelchair, but now I have learned to improvise, and solve problems according to my capabilities and resources.

Mental Toughness

Although it’s been a while now that I have been wheelchair bound, I still have moments of despair, when I see others doing stuff that I am never going to be able to do anymore. Fortunately, I have always been a mentally tough person, and I find that I have to be at my toughest to make peace with myself. The most difficult task is trying to make my younger kids understand why I just am not able to do certain things for them, but I somehow always seem to convince them in the end.

The Small Things in Life

Many of these things probably are free, but from the level of a wheelchair, you tend to take notice of them and appreciate them. For example, I have a quiet moment with my seven year old – we don’t talk much, but just do something together, and it feels good, later on. I say, “live for the moment, and appreciate every second of it, and appreciate the small things in life.”

Sense of Humor

I have learned to have a good laugh at myself, and the kids love it. When things go wrong as they sometimes will, I no longer have the capacity to sort out the matter on my own. So, as they say, “When you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em”, and I have found it works every time.

Lessons in Love

When I first became a wheelchair bound mom, it felt like my live was over, and that people would just ignore me. However, to my pleasant surprise, I found out that it was in many ways, just the reverse. There were so many people who made the extra effort to make me comfortable that love took on a totally new dimension.

Facing other Kids who Stare

Being stared at by people is another thing that I have learned is just a way of life with a wheelchair bound person. However, I have also learnt to tackle kids who stare. I just introduce myself, and explain to them that I use a wheelchair because I have trouble walking. This is usually quite a satisfactory explanation, and it serves as an adequate icebreaker.

Finding the Time

I find that I am left with a lot of time on my hands, to do things that I never could find time for before the wheelchair. There are things which I just cannot do, and so I have to resign myself to that fact. But the positive aspect is that this gives me more time for other stuff. For example, I get lots of time to write, which has become a way of life today. I have also become an expert online shopper – scouring vacuum cleaner reviews for the best vacuum cleaner may seem irredeemably boring to some, but I get through hundreds of these very easily. Blogging and surfing the internet is my window to the world, and being in a wheelchair gives me time to spend on it. I am also able to do stuff with my kids that I never had time for previously.

Getting Peoples’ Attention

There are people who are attentive, and those who are indifferent. It is difficult to grab the attention of indifferent people – they just keep on doing what they are doing or going where they are going. But the attentive types of people are my targets. Being in a wheelchair kind of makes it easy to attract the attention of those who are more aware of their surroundings. So, becomes easier to interact with such people, to get assistance if required, or just to have a chat.

I have learned a lot about both myself and those around me as a wheelchair bound mom of four. Thankfully, being wheelchair bound comes with numerous blessings in disguise.

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Janet Miller contributor

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