It Makes Us Stronger

“Your child has brain damage” is on the list of things you never want to hear, but in June of 2007 those were the exact words I heard just one day after my son was born. A few minutes later they told me that he would probably not live, but if he did, he would be in a wheelchair and could be mentally handicapped as well.

Long before he was born, I knew that motherhood would change me. After Charlie’s traumatic birth, I was scared to death that it would be his brain damage that would alter who I was. Being the mother of a disabled child did change me, but it turns out it would make me better, would challenge me, and would help me become the person I always wanted to be.

I’ve spent my whole life wanting to do something creative. I thought about interior design; I thought about party planning. I perused web sites, tried to discover my personality type, and stacked career guides up on the bedside table. But there was always the day job, and creative ventures were restricted to painting walls or creating art work when I couldn’t afford the real thing.  cooking 123

Charlie’s birth changed all that. I quit my job to stay home with him– convinced that no one could care for him like I could. Suddenly, there was time in the day. No longer consumed with the test scores and lesson plans of a full-time teacher, I needed some kind of outlet.

I began painting. It wasn’t painting for a purpose—just the need to make something—to create. I began to stay up late into the night painting, and soon realized I knew nothing about painting. I started reading art magazines and blogs with a new interest—what materials were they using? Where did they get their supplies? There was a lot to learn (and still is).

The more I painted the more ideas I had—I could feel my creativity expanding.

Soon, I started dreaming really big—I would start a creative business.

It wasn’t a new dream. I’d wanted it so many times before, but this time was different.

Charlie is fighter and an odds beater—the doctors held out little hope that he’d live more than a couple of days, but at five weeks he came home. They were convinced that he wouldn’t be able to eat on his own, and insisted he have surgery to place a feeding tube—he turned out to be a champion eater. The first few months of his life were plagued with medical issues, but in the end, he thrived.

Through all this I had to learn to be a fighter too. I had to believe in my son when no one else would and pick up a whole new skill set— doing research, getting answers, and trusting my gut.

So this time, when I wanted to start my own business, I had something I’d never had before—strength, persistence, and faith in my instincts.

cooking 124It probably took eight months to get it off the ground, but I did it. I built a website and online store. I’ve even got a Facebook Fan Page!

I’m not rolling in dough, but man is it exciting. My art has appeared in a national magazine and a local gallery has offered to carry my work. My free time is spent creating things for myself and for other people. Now days I can tell people “I’m an artist.”

It couldn’t have happened without Charlie–his inspiration and all the other things that he has taught me. Fighting for him, taught me how to fight for myself. Seeing him conquer the impossible showed me that anything can be done when we put our minds to it. If a child can have that tenacity and desire, why can’t I?

Now I look forward to the future—to seeing Charlie continue to prove the   doctors wrong, and to seeing where my creativity will take me. These days I realize that it really is wide open—we aren’t restricted by what others think or say, but only by ourselves. If we let go of our fears, we can do whatever our hearts desire.

This post was written as part of the blog carnival sponsored by Blog Nosh Magazine and Pepperidge Farm.  I’m sure many special needs parents will recognize themselves in Margaret Rudkin’s story.  To see other participants please visit Blog Nosh.

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  1. It's so awesome that Charlie was able to help you realize your dream. Can't wait to see your artwork in person!!

  2. Loved this.

    Many parallels with my son's birth and infancy. They told us slim to none that he'd live…now, he's a happy first grader.

    Can't wait to see you artwork!

  3. Great post. Charlie is adorable and you write (and paint it sounds like!) so well. :) thanks for the late-night inspiration.

  4. Candace says:

    What an inspiration for all of us! This is probably my favorite post that you have ever written, Katy! Who would ever think that a little boy who could have died would bring out inspiration like that? LOVE THIS, friend!

  5. TherExtras says:

    This is a wowser post, Katy.

    It has been too long since I said how adorable Charlie is –

    Agreeing with you that employment stifles creativity.

    Agreeing with you that children help us develop in ways not otherwise possible. Barbara

  6. I love all the good news you have lately! :)

  7. aLmYbNeNr says:

    That's great! Congratulations!

  8. Wahzat Gayle says:

    What has always been my inspiration from you is that you don't let the FEAR take hold of you or hold you back.

    It is wonderful that you used the silver lining to attain some 'new'.

    Keep reaching for the sky… know you would nab a star or two :)

  9. Nadine Hightower says:

    You've come a long way, Baby!

  10. sitting on the mood swing at the playground says:

    First of all, how cute are those photos! What a wonderful and inspiring post…I'm off to be a facebook fan.

  11. Janet "Grammy" Harrold says:

    Katy, I see your comments alot on other blogs so I decided to check out your blog. We have a bit in common. I also paint I try to raise money for Hailey's Conductive Education. Please visit my blog to see some of my work and get to know Hailey. You are an inspiration! Charlie is adorable! I will add you to my blogroll.

  12. Katy, you rock. Charlie rocks, he is so delicious in those photos.

    I so relate, we were also told the same exact awful stuff about Max…including that we could sign a Do Not Resuscitate if we wanted to. That's the most impossible thing of all to believe when I look at Max today.

    This post is so inspirational. I wish I had time for a creative outlet like painting. For now, my writing takes up all my creative time. That, and finding purple stuff for Max.


  13. They are so inspirational aren't they? Because of Jude I am trying to further my career. Just got an additional license, and am aiming for more. WAY TO GO girl, you and Charlie are an awesome team.

  14. This was a beautiful post, absolutely beautiful post. I think that this needs to be published in a magazine somewhere too….right along side your artwork!

  15. Wherever HE Leads We'll Go says:

    I loved this post. You and Charlie inspire me!