Advocating for Ourselves


Advocating for Ourselves


There’s something about motherhood that changed me. My heart would never be the same — because, for the first time, I felt the magic of unconditional love.

My firstborn was a boy and then I had a baby girl. Isn’t it fascinating how we don’t consider the magic of the body when children are developing and hitting all of their milestones?

For example, my son started crawling and I never questioned it. I simply cheered to myself that he hit the first of many milestones...crawl, cruise, walk.

At no time did I realize that crawling plays such an important step in the development of a child. Crawling helps strengthen the muscles in the hands, which then allows a child to develop a pincer grasp to pick things up. Crawling also activates the brain so the right side and left side are coordinated.

This all happened naturally, and I was none the wiser. 

That was, until I had my second child. My daughter would require more of me as she was diagnosed with global developmental delay and experienced fine motor, gross motor, and speech delays.

From the beginning, I’ve spoken on my daughter’s behalf at all of the therapy sessions and medical appointments. Looking back, I realize that I was slowly able to learn how to advocate for my daughter, Summer, in ways that I was unable to advocate for myself.

Over time, Summer's voice helped me to find my own.

With this newfound voice, I started to advocate for myself. What a muscle to discover and build!

This little voice started as a small whisper and it asked questions like, “Are you happy?” I didn’t like the answer that I had to that question, so I ignored the small whisper. I mean, my goodness, I was a caregiver — was I really supposed to be happy?

That concept at the time seemed outrageous given that I was still living in denial of all emotions and the reality that my mother-daughter relationship would be very different from how I once imagined it. I was living in denial and felt paralyzed with fear. Fear for the present and fear for the future. How would my nonverbal baby girl fare in this world?

Fear is simply an illusion. Life was going to continue whether or not I had fear. My daughter would progress at her own pace whether or not I had fear. Living a life without fear certainly seemed more enticing and helped me sleep better at night.

I was able to move away from feelings of fear by starting to focus on how I wanted to feel. I wanted to feel joy again, even if it was only for a moment. That’s how my path to finding daily moments of joy started. I decided to turn toward the light so the darkness wouldn’t be so all-consuming.

I define self-care as any activity that brings us joy. Learning to put ourselves first is the foundation for self-care. I believe that self-care is one way in which we can advocate for ourselves.

As a self-care advocate and coach, I see that there are many parallels to advocating for our loved ones, including:

  • Setting boundaries.
  • Speaking our truth.
  • Keeping it simple.

I invite all family caregivers to find that muscle that allows us to start advocating for ourselves. It may feel awkward at first, but stick with it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the benefits of self-care.

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