Last weekend I took Callie to the pool at our gym.
For most families, going to the pool isn’t a big deal.
For us, it’s a bit of an adventure.
I won’t lie, I normally try to steer her away from asking about going swimming at the public pool just because it’s a work out. Physically and Emotionally.
There’s the physical aspect to it. When we go to the pool, once Callie gets her sunscreen on and her cover up tossed on her chaise, she is ready to go. Except, we have to take off her leg. And then I have to carry her to and from the pool. All 70 pounds of her. Multiple times. She can’t just run and jump in the pool like all the other kids.
And then there’s the emotional aspect of it which is an even harder workout. It’s not easy to deal with the stares, the side eyes, and the weird looks we get once her prosthetic leg comes off. There is a different vulnerability she has when she takes off her prostethic in front of strangers–she literally is baring her soul to the world at that point. In that moment, there’s no hiding that she’s very different from everyone else.
But this time, she said “Mama, I don’t care what other people think. They don’t matter. I want us to go.”
So we did. And she taught me that it doesn’t matter what other people think. And if I let it bother me, it will trickle down to Callie and she will start to hesitate to do things for fear of what other people will think of her. She has just as much right to play in the pool and feel comfortable doing it as anyone else. If others are bothered by it–that’s none of my business.
We went to the pool. I didn’t bat an eye when I took off her prosthetic leg or when I carried her from the chaise to the pool. She splashed and played and had a great time.
We did get odd looks and some people pointedly stared and gestured at her. My hope is that she doesn’t let that affect her. My hope is that by us continously showing up for our lives, we will empower others to do the same. My hope is by continuing to not hold Callie back from anything she wants to do, she will grow up learning that she can breathe fire, scale mountains, and slay dragons. My hope is that by showing up authentically others will do the same. Comfortable showing up with their “perfectly imperfect” selves. Comfortable showing up with every ability and body type. My hope is by showing up it will open the door for conversation about differences, inclusion, and abilities.
If you need us for the rest of the summer….we’ll be at the pool.