The barriers, both physical and social, I face as a parent living with a disability

the FAQ

This First Person article is the experience of Marjorie Aunos, a psychologist in Montreal. For more information about CBC's First Person stories, please see the FAQ.

I dreamt of being a mom for years. When I would close my eyes, thinking of how it could be, I could literally feel him in my arms. My journey toward parenthood was done on my own, with a community of family and friends around me. Even before my son, Thomas, was born in 2010, I knew he would always come first and I longed for all those parent-child activities we would do together, like those mom and tots swimming lessons.

When Thomas and I enrolled in those lessons at the public pool near our house, there was a sacred rule. Only the parents who were meant to go in the pool were allowed to enter the pool area. All the other parents needed to stay away, behind the glass doors. But I felt it was different for me. I was the mom. But for me to go in, another adult needed to be there with us to hold him steady.

Everyone knew it. It was only logical, and safer. The lifeguards knew and the other parents saw this was not something I could do on my own. Yet, every week, I had to justify, bargain, explain and sometimes get angry.

And every week, I had to face everyone's stares.

the FAQ

To be able to take part in those lessons, I had to slide down from my wheelchair, using my arms to direct my buttocks to drop on the side. I had to prevent my whole body from falling to the ground. The whole endeavour needed to be done carefully, as to not bruise any body parts. Then I learned to crawl in a seated position until the lower part of my legs were in the water. A swift turn and I would end on my belly on the side of the pool, a position from where I could slowly slide the upper part of my body into the water.

Once submerged, I could easily float and move my arms around in a co-ordinated fashion to get to where my son was: in my mother's arms. He was ready to learn to float, ready to put his head under water. And I was there to be a part of it.

I could feel the envy in all those stares. In a way, it wasn't fair that both my mom and I would get to experience his first swimming moves. But I wouldn't have missed these moments for anything in the world.

What few people knew, though, is that getting in the water was the easy part. After the swim, I had to do it all in reverse, while being wet and working against gravity. This was how much I wanted to stay involved. I wanted to continue being his mommy, to fulfill all of those dreams I had while pregnant. I needed him to know that he came first. That time in the pool brought me joy; it made him laugh and sometimes cry out of fear as water splashed on his face.

In those moments, I wanted to be the one he could reach out to for comfort.

I felt like I deserved to take part in everything Thomas was doing, that he deserved to have an over-involved parent like all the other kids around him. I had survived the car accident a few months prior to do just that. Just like any other parent, I had imagined going to the park, playing in the sand, sliding with my child. I had imagined myself attending parent-teacher conferences, borrowing books at the library, bringing him to hockey on Sunday mornings with my Timmie's in my hand.

the FAQ

Never had I imagined I would need to check if I could access these community buildings. Never had I thought I would need to be in constant solution-finding mode when these buildings did not offer a way for my wheels to get in. If it wasn't the dressing rooms that were too small, it was a lack of adapted toilets. I saw handicapped parking spaces that were used to dump snow, used by city employees or not wide enough for my vehicle.

When it was time to find a school for Thomas, I had to send my mom as my scout as I couldn't enter most of them due to stairs. When I finally picked one, the only school in my neighborhood into which I could enter, I was not allowed to drive down the cul-de-sac — closed during school hours — leading to the school gates. If I wanted to drop my son off, I had to use one of the neighbourhood's busiest streets, or ask a stranger to bring him up to the gate in my place.

My accident was a terrible thing that happened to me, but unfortunately it wasn't the worst. The worst was having to learn to navigate in a world that too often leaves people like me behind.

Being in a wheelchair allows me to move around. It allows me to get places. But I can assure you that if it hadn't been for my stubbornness and for my strong belief that I, like every other parent with or without a disability, deserve to be included, I would have been left behind. Numerous times. And my son would have missed out from having a cheerleader mom.

the FAQ
Let’s Go9:22Celebrating parents of all abilites

An event happening tomorrow will highlight parents with disabilities and share their stories about parenthood. We'll hear from a parent who is part of this event and find out why she is sharing her personal story of motherhood. 9:22

CBC Quebec welcomes your pitches for First Person essays. Please email for details.

News Related


8 Tips to Follow for When You're Walking for Weight Loss

© NickyLloyd – Getty Images Can walking help you lose weight? It sure can! Here are eight walking for weight loss tips to follow. Over the past few years, walking ... Read more »

New COVID Variant With Unique Mutations Detected in Kentucky Nursing Home

Experts have have shed new light on a variant of COVID-19 discovered in a nursing home in Kentucky, which has infected at least 45 residents and health care staff. The ... Read more »

UK strikes deal for CO2 producer to restart operations

© Reuters/PHIL NOBLE An information label is seen on packaging for a CO2 cylinder for a fizzy drinks machine in Manchester LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has struck a deal with ... Read more »

UK red list latest: Sisulu must break ‘deafening silence' on travel bans – DA

© Provided by The South African With South Africa still languishing on the UK’s notorious travel red list despite the country having recently opened up immigration from countries previously deemed ... Read more »

World Rose Day 2021: Motivational messages and quotes to share with cancer patients

© Provided by Jagran English New Delhi | Jagran Lifestyle Desk: World Rose Day 2021 is celebrated annually on September 22 to bring cheer to the lives of all those ... Read more »

Busting myths: Will the Covid-19 vaccine make your partner impotent?

Ever since the Covid-19 vaccines were introduced last year, the world hasn’t been able to stop talking about it! In the recent past, there were several myths around how the ... Read more »

Curry leaves aren't just about flavour, they aid weight loss too!

Curry leaves are part of Indian cuisine for centuries and are used to make dishes across the length and breadth of India. It has a rich aroma and flavour and ... Read more »

The Chelsea Flower Show Floristry and Floral Design competition winners have been announced

Much to the delight of many a flower fan, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is back in full swing this year and, for the first time, is taking place in ... Read more »

Scotland's second largest whisky producer swallows online spirits retailer

Chivas Brothers owner Pernod Ricard, the drinks giant that ranks as Scotland’s second largest whisky producer, has swallowed online spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange. © French spirits giant Pernod Ricard ... Read more »

UCT senate to vote on mandatory vaccinations

© Provided by Independent Online (IOL) Cape Town – The UCT senate will this week vote on a motion of whether to make vaccination mandatory at the institution or not. ... Read more »

A look at COVID-19 treatments: Which ones work best?

© Kyle Green/AP Virus Outbreak Hospital Hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, ivermectin and monoclonal antibodies are some of the most-talked about drugs when it comes to COVID-19. CBS Dallas spoke with Dr. Robert ... Read more »

McDonald's Happy Meal toys to go green globally by 2025

© Reuters/Shannon Stapleton FILE PHOTO: The McDonald’s logo is seen outside the fast-food chain McDonald’s in New York By Hilary Russ (Reuters) – McDonald’s Corp said on Tuesday it will ... Read more »

Quality Street reveals its first ever white chocolate in time for Christmas

© John Lewis QS_20003_TIN_JOHN_LEWIS_PHOTOGRAPHY_2020_6x4_FINAL.jpg Quality Street will be having a white Christmas for the first time in its long history after it announced a new chocolate for its famous selection ... Read more »

There's factual data that shows how COVID jabs were developed - SAMRC's Morar

© @GautengHealth/Twitter An elderly woman receives her COVID-19 vaccine jab with the start of the second phase of South Africa’s vaccine rollout on 17 May 2021. CAPE TOWN – The ... Read more »

How Many Americans Died From Spanish Flu and How Did the Pandemic End?

Deaths related to COVID-19 in the U.S. have reached 676,000, surpassing the number that died during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. © PhotoQuest/Getty The barracks hospital on the campus ... Read more »

Apple is researching whether its iPhone could help detect depression, a report says

© Apple Apple CEO Tim Cook. Apple Apple is researching whether data from its iPhone could help detect depression, the WSJ reported. Scientists are studying sleep and typing data to ... Read more »

Opinion: Vaccinate all health care workers now

Covid-19 has killed over 600,000 Americans and sickened many more. It’s hard for me to understand why people would refuse a vaccine that could save their lives and those of ... Read more »

Kale at Kroger, other stores recalled for possible listeria contamination

Multiple kale products from several different brands are being recalled by Baker Farms after contamination by the bacterium listeria monocytogenes. The company is recalling some of their Baker Farms, Kroger, ... Read more »

The #1 Best Orange Juice to Buy

© Provided by Eat This, Not That! orange juice Juice fads come and go faster than they claim to help clear your system. From the celery juice craze to the ... Read more »

2 doses of J&J vaccine provide 94% protection, study says; US reaches death toll of Spanish flu: COVID-19 updates

Johnson & Johnson released new data Tuesday showing a booster dose of its vaccine given two months after the one-shot vaccine provides 94% protection against moderate-to-severe COVID-19 symptoms. J&J, citing three studies of the ... Read more »

Early symptoms and impact of Alzheimer's

© Provided by The Statesman Early symptoms and impact of Alzheimer’s On the eve of Alzheimer’s day, Dr AK Sahani, Sr. Consultant and Chief of Neurology Service, Indian Spinal Injuries ... Read more »

How To Eat Mindfully When Doing Everything From Home

After the Coronavirus and lockdown we all have started to eat at home. Takeout and junk consumption has reached its peak. After the fast food chains and restaurants opened people ... Read more »

Why Does Asthma Get Worse at Night?

In 1698, British doctor John Floyer wrote a treatise on asthma, the first major work focused on the disease. Not all of it aged well. He warned that those who ... Read more »

2 doses of J&J vaccine provides 94% protection, study says; US reaches death toll of Spanish flu: COVID-19 updates

Johnson & Johnson released new data Tuesday showing a booster dose of its vaccine given two months after the one-shot vaccine provides 94% protection against moderate-to-severe COVID-19 symptoms. J&J, citing three studies of the ... Read more »

Johnson & Johnson says Phase 3 trial data confirms 'strong and long-lasting' protection from COVID-19 vaccine

© Marketwatch MARKET PULSE Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday data from a Phase 3 trial and real-world evidence confirm that its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine offers strong and long-lasting protection against ... Read more »

Tom Kitchin's Scran and Scallie named among UK's best gastropubs

© Tom Kitchin’s Scran and Scallie in Stockbridge ranked among the best places to eat and drink across … The Stockbridge venue, on Comely Bank Road, ​was among two Captial ... Read more »

Can't stop the beet! 10 tantalising beetroot recipes – from hearty borscht to tempting brownies

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Tim Gainey/Alamy The beetroot has a long and storied history. Assyrian texts from 800BC describe beetroots growing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The ... Read more »

Meat and fizzy drinks days away from disappearing from shops due to gas shortage

Meat and fizzy drink shortages could hit supermarkets in days as vital carbon dioxide stocks run low, experts say. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is used in soda and carbonated beers, like ... Read more »

J&J's vaccine gives 100% protection from severe COVID-19 after a 2nd dose, study says - comparable to the Pfizer or Moderna shots

© KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / Contributor/Getty Images A man receiving a J&J vaccine. KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / Contributor/Getty Images A booster dose of J&J vaccine gave comparable protection to other vaccines, the ... Read more »

A tale of two prisoners — Juane Jacobs and Jacob Zuma

Questions raised over perceived speciousness and double standards involved in medical parole eligibility processes in South Africa. © Copyright (c) Daily Maverick , All Rights Reserved First published by GroundUp. ... Read more »

What Sex Education Gets So Right About Aimee's Sexual Assault Trauma

Content warning: This article details instances of sexual assault and may be distressing to some readers. The hotly-anticipated third season of Sex Education has dropped on Netflix, and was eagerly ... Read more »

Beauty sleep is real: five overnight treatments to help give you skin that's healthy, plump and well rested

Sleeping seven to nine hours a day is easier said than done for some, but not doing so comes with consequences for our bodies. About 35 per cent of people ... Read more »

Shilpa Shetty's Padmasana inspo, powerful wellness advice is all we need today

When Thomas Wayne taught Batman, “And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up” we took that advice close to heart and Shilpa Shetty Kundra ... Read more »

When will the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine be ready for kids? Your questions answered.

Parents of young children woke up Monday morning to the news that COVID-19 vaccines for their little ones may be just around the corner. Pfizer and German partner BioNTech released ... Read more »

THESE are the things to avoid after a workout

After you’ve completed your workout, your quest for fitness doesn’t end. Sometimes, we end up making mistakes that can null our hard work. Some such things include not keeping your ... Read more »

World Alzheimer's Day: Early warning signs of dementia you shouldn't ignore

© Provided by The Indian Express Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes the brain cells to degenerate and eventually die. It is the most common cause of dementia, ... Read more »

When is the Great British Bake Off 2021 and who are the 12 contestants?

© Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions BakeOff2021contestants The 12th series of The Great British Bake Off returns today – with 12 new contestants ready to rise to baking glory. Judges Paul Hollywood ... Read more »

13 Reasons Why You're Farting So Much, Right Now

© Dmitry Ageev – Getty Images If you’re wondering ‘why do I fart so much’ then know that there is something you can do about it. Here’s the expert take. ... Read more »