You came home crying one day
because a boy at school insulted you
—said something “bad” about your mama.
Tears of anger and hurt
rolled down your little boy face
when you explained
the boy had said that your mama’s in a wheelchair,
and you punched him for saying that,
I guess, because in your mind,
disability had already become
a dirty word, an insult,
something to be ashamed of.
In some ways, I had always known
you would one day face
the double sided blade of ignorance
—ignorance that often leads to anger and fear.
And there you were
having to defend yourself from the truth
because when you were teased about my disability,
is when you felt you had to defend me from it too,
and having a disabled mom
something you had to defend yourself from
again and again,
something you had to explain, and normalize
even after I tried
to help you realize that, yes,
it’s true, your moms is in a wheelchair,
and there’s nothing wrong with that.
had already been done.
And although you grew up
witnessing me embrace disability pride,
you also grew up feeling deprived
because having a disabled mom is what made you feel different.
Ableism had a bigger grip on you
than my love did
even though back then,
ableism wasn’t even a word yet born
into my everyday vocabulary
that would have allowed
me to protect you from shame,
and maybe help me
further explain things to you
instead of just kissing your emotional boo-boos.
But that’s just what I did.
And I guess,
like with everything else,
covering serious wounds with a band-aid,
eventually becomes bigger wounds,
the kind that no amount of kisses
—From Maria R. Palacios’ upcoming book: Bubbles of Ableism: A Disabled Woman’s Story of Love & Motherhood