I used to envy the moms who seemed to have it together
-the ones who made it look easy
and whose lives afforded them
driving their kids to school,
or the big house with a pool
and a big yard-
things for which I worked hard
but never reached
no matter how others preached
about hard work and success…sometimes the two
never meet, or sometimes
doing things our way
instead of the cookie cutter mold
of the “Leave it to Beaver” metaphor
which denied brown disabled women like myself
the right to imagine ourselves as mothers
or the right to raise our children on our own.
And I wanted
to raise my children on my own
but from the moment they were born
people in the able-bodied world were there
reminding me that raising children is not a job
for a cripple.
I took me years to understand that needing help
does not equal surrendering the right
to call myself a mother,
the right to decide
for my children’s lives.
I took me years to recognize
the chains of ableism that stole
my ability to connect
with my sons
as a somebody with authority
and as their mom.
Instead I had become
the one they were afraid to trust crossing the street
or staying alone with me
even though they called me mama.
Perhaps, I too was afraid.
I had been taught to be afraid-
afraid of failure, and I guess I held on for too long
to the able-bodied definition of success
the one that made me envy the moms
who made it look easy;
the moms who drove their kids to school in an SUV.
-The moms who were not afraid to cross the street,
and were not afraid to be mothers.