Feeling proud about a limb difference

by Jen Lee Reeves on May 1, 2012 · 8 comments

in 2012,jordan,Self Esteem

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I am halfway through Jim Abbott’s new book,¬†Imperfect; An Improbable Life. After each chapter recounts a part of his childhood, I’m taken aback by how uncomfortable he’s been throughout his life about his limb difference. Times are a little better when it comes to limb differences. Culturally, our school system is more accepting. Jordan is officially classified a “not disabled” in her school district. And I do believe that is correct. Abbott writes how he always felt out of place and didn’t fit in as he grew up in Flint, Michigan.

I instantly think about Jordan. I don’t see her shy away from anything other than learning to ride a bike with two wheels. In social settings, she’s able to move past the questions and stares better than any person I’ve met. This weekend she had two girls in a baseball field above her pelting her with questions. They weren’t being malicious, they were just curious. By the end of the¬†conversation, the kids were all playing together and Jordan was bossing the girls around. She’s bold. She’s strong.

Then two things happened over the weekend that made me want to write this post. First, I got an email from Jordan’s Kindergarten teacher. I had sent her a note with concern about Friday’s Grandparent’s Day. When she replied, she let me know Jordan did pretty well at school. She also told me about a cool moment that had happened earlier in the week. She wrote how impressed Jordan was with her “whatever” attitude when kids ask her questions. One kid walked up to her and said, “I bet you wish you had two arms like me.” The teacher said she was ready to jump into “That’s how she was born” mode but Jordan just smiled and said:

No. Actually it’s kinda fun like this!

That’s so awesome.

Not long after that email, a Born Just Right friend on Facebook asked how I managed to get Jordan to like her little arm. She discovered her two-year-old hiding his little arm in public. I thought about it and I’ve never seen Jordan hide her arm. It could be because her arm is so short. But it could also be because I’ve introduced her to as many possible limb different kids since she was tiny. She has had experiences and meetings in ways that would have never happened without such a fun arm.

I keep fretting about the future and how Jordan may lose hope and confidence… but she is holding strong. I keep going deeper and deeper in Abbott’s book and I’m so thrilled to hear the perspective of a limb difference from a person with a limb difference. Since Jordan is young, I don’t feel like it’s right to ask her too many deep questions about how she feels about her limb difference when she seems So. Dang. Comfortable. I’ll ask when she’s older. For now, I think she’s feel more comfortable in her skin than Abbott did at her age. And for that I’m thankful.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Davis May 1, 2012 at 2:05 am

I agree about not asking too many questions now. I do have to tell you that the conversations as with your adult daughter will be fascinating, it is so interesting to hear their perspectives compared to ours.

Good job, Jen, for showing her the whole world and that the world has all kinds of different people in it.

Brooke Kaiser May 1, 2012 at 10:38 am

Your daughter amazes me and us for that matter. My husband and my 6 year old daughter Madison get so much peace in seeing her thrive and smile alot!!! I would totally expect her to say that “it’s actually kind of fun” and that is a direct result of how you handle this experience. You inspire me beyond words to get out there and be for my little man who is still in the womb, to meet similiar people and kids and get informed!!! I can’t thank you enough for sharing your life, I have such hard moments because well he isn’t here yet and so I get caught up in thinking of what isn’t there and the sadness for that loss when there is so much to be excited about! Jordan shows me that everytime I see your posts and read about her. Not to mention I’m doubly blessed by the fact he is a twin and so will have a protector right off the bat. Right there every step of the way. Thank You again and God Bless~ Sincerely, The Kaiser’s, Brooke=)

Jen Lee Reeves May 1, 2012 at 11:58 am

I’m so glad I can help Brooke! I’m so thrilled for your family as you prepare for twins. I know the loss of a limb is scary because of the unknown. But I’ll tell you this: The bigger your little guy gets, the more things he’ll figure out and the more relaxed you’ll feel. A limb difference teaches our kids to be problem solver. It’s an incredible skill to have naturally.

Monica Stoner May 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Mrs. Reeves,
Over the past semester, I have been reading your blog and keeping updated on your Facebook page. For my class, we have had to relate occurrences in the blog we are following to things we are learning in class and such. I am currently writing my final paper and I can’t help but notice that I am actually bragging about Jordan in my paper. I have had to hold myself back from using all kinds of great adjectives to describe her, and I have only met her a couple times! She is such an inspiration to me and probably anyone who comes in contact with her. I have to admit that you are an inspiration as well. You write with such truth and honesty, truly making me feel like a friend as I am reading. I know that might sound strange, but I really feel connected to your family somehow. You are such a support to Jordan and truly try to give her the best. Jordan seems to have an amazing attitude about life (and if I am remember correctly, she was also a little sassy!), and it has to come at least in part from you. I commend you on all of your hard work and support. Jordan has become my own role model in many ways and I think that is really cool, especially since she is younger than me by about 15 years. This has turned out much longer than I had originally planned, but I just wanted to thank you for your blog and all your effort you put into it. It has been really great keeping up with your and Jordan’s life and I don’t plan to stop reading just because the semester is over!

Jen Lee Reeves May 1, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Oh wow. Thanks so much Monica! I’m honored and I hope you get an awesome grade on your paper. This past semester has been difficult to keep up with my many jobs and this site… but Born Just Right means a lot to me. It isn’t something I plan to walk away from. It’s so cool to see my hard work and periodic lack of sleep appreciated. I’m touched!!

Ryan Haack May 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Jen

I’m reading Jim’s book, too, (duh) and thought the same thing! It amazes me how uncomfortable he was.

I remember being very much like Jordan when I was a kid. The situation was what it was and it didn’t bother me much. Also, it was such a non-issue for me, it became a non-issue for those around me (according to those around me).

I was never introduced to kids “like me” when I was younger. So far as I remember. In fact, a friend just asked me a couple days ago if I had any friends with one arm before I started LOH. I thought for a while…nope. None.

You’re doing an awesome job helping Jordan know she is a valuable PERSON, not just that “she can do whatever she wants despite her limb-difference.” I think her confidence come from you. Something to the effect of, “My arm is a part of me and my mom says I’m valuable, so…”

Anyway…I liked this post a lot. You’re awesome.

Ryan

Jen Lee Reeves May 28, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Ryan! Thank you so much. I want to hug you through my blog. Jordan is super valuable and I’m proud of who she is… No matter how many hands!! I can’t wait for a chance to meet you in person some day! (I had hoped it would be the Helping Hands picnic but my brother in law is getting married and I can’t get out of town two weekends in a row.)

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