Wednesday, June 8, 2016

When I Encounter Mothers

People who are able to walk don’t think much about their legs, and I don’t think much about my wheelchair. My mind is occupied by a million other things. With a few exceptions, I go about my day as if I’m not riding in an elaborate metal and plastic contraption.

But I am. I’m reminded of this when I pass by a mirror, look at a photograph of myself taken in the last eight years, or approach a mother and her young offspring. When I encounter a Mom (not so much a Dad), she collects her brood and pulls them to safety. I can only imagine her thought process. Two possibilities come to mind:

Possibility 1

Maternal instinct, from an ancient part of her brain, screams, danger … situation uncertain… must protect children at all costs, and she gathers them close. Then, from a more evolved part of her brain, social awareness kicks in, mustn’t make wheelchair user feel bad… smile at him... yes, that’s the right thing to do.

Possibility 2

Maybe she doesn’t succumb to base instincts so easily. Maybe she thinks, nice man approaching in wheelchair… my snotty-nosed brats are going to get in his way… must avoid embarrassing situation… maybe if I smile he will forgive our intrusion into his space.

My Reaction

What goes through my head at these times? I usually think, adorable kids ahead ... plenty of room for me to pass by them… I hope their mother doesn’t make a big deal… oh well, too late… now she’s smiling at me…hmm, she’s kind of cute… yeah, I’ve still got it.

This blog post devolved quickly. Let me try to bring it back around.

A mother's reaction probably depends on the circumstances. If she sees me coming from a distance, her more cerebral, social skills have time to manage the situation. If I turn the corner and surprise her, however, Mom's powerful and fast-acting survival instincts may shoot to the surface before her empathetic self takes over. I get that.

And the baby daddies – they’re just lucky I’m happily married.

Sorry, couldn’t help myself.


  1. I don't think I've noticed that when I use either my walker or my chair. However, I can't tell you how many times I've had little children, especially girls, stare at my walker. I can only imagine they wonder what I did with the baby from my stroller.

    1. Mary Ellen, check out the comments below along that same line…

  2. I have had kids at the grocery store ask me why I need to use the cart; Mothers rush in to shush their rude question. If I have time before she rushes them off, I say to her they're just curious, if you'll let me I do have a good response: I got a boo-boo on my brain so now it won't tell my legs how to walk.

    1. Thumbs up, Webster!

      I always think that the little kids are just wanting to have a fancy "hot wheels" like mine. And I must admit, that I sometimes drive that scooter around with almost the same recklessness that my 4 year old son did his hot wheel back in the day. (are hot wheels still around?)

    2. yes! I should have written about that too. Mothers are so worried that their children will offend us, but I personally find their honesty refreshing. They just want answers.