Being the parent of a limb different baby forces you to take risks… And back in the winter of 2006, I had a lot of learning to do with Jordan as a newborn. There’s so much going on when you’re a parent of a newborn with or without a physical or developmental challenge. You’re exhausted, you’re hormonal and if there’s anything to worry about, your brain wants to zone in on it. My major focus was staring at babies with two hands.
I couldn’t help it. Babies with two hands were fascinating. There was a baby in Jordan’s daycare who was SO chunky, she couldn’t fold her arms. I told her I thought she was taunting me. (For fun. I didn’t really say mean things to the baby. She was so stinking cute and chunky.)
When Jordan was super tiny, about eight weeks old, she and her brother joined me on a trip to visit my parents in Florida. It was February so it was cold here. I could take Jordan out wrapped in blankets and no one would have to ask questions or stare. Blankets were my safety blanket. But going to Florida forced my hand. Jordan wouldn’t need as many blankets and she certainly wouldn’t need to be wrapped up when we go out in public.
I knew it was coming and I knew I had to take a risk. I had to accept people will stare. I had to accept people would ask questions. And I was right… I had my very first elderly pity moment. I didn’t like it much… But I didn’t dwell on it. But I also pushed through my fear. I took Jordan and Cameron to a park. She slept most of the time, but when she woke up, I picked her up and walked around with her blanket-free. I worried about the stares. I was sure Jordan’s first visit to the park would be difficult. But even though I thought she’d get a ton of stares, there really weren’t many.
But after a while, I realized I was searching for stares. I was waiting for someone one to ask me questions. But honestly, Jordan’s spirit was bright from the very start. People were drawn to her sweet cheerful eyes and would completely miss Jordan’s difference. Often I would have an inner need to blurt out details about how Jordan had one hand.
But you know what? Most of the time when I felt the need to explain Jordan’s limb difference before anyone asked, it completely threw them for a loop. They were so enthralled by Jordan’s spirit, no one cared about arms or legs or fingers or toes. Jordan had already figured it out. If you’re strong and proud and happy, you can convince almost anyone to be your friend.
By the time Jordan was three months old, I was starting to feel more comfortable. I noted, the more I went out, the more comfortable I felt. It’s so true. You should never feel the need to hide you or your family because of a difference. Living your life as a family shows people more about who you are and how you feel about an obvious difference than any uncomfortable and forced lesson on respect.
One other tiny moment worth remembering… Cameron and Jordan didn’t used to fight all the time. When Jordan was two months old, Cam was even creating sweet songs about his sister. I wrote about it at the bottom of this post.