“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.
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.
It 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.