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Mom on Wheels: The Power of Purpose as a Paraplegic Parent.

Today is a pretty good day to die.

Those were my thoughts as my car hit black ice and spun out of control toward an oncoming truck. As I waited for paramedics to extricate me from the mangled wreck, unable to feel anything below my neck, I pictured my sixteen-month-old son. And decided to live.

So began the most challenging chapter in my life as this overachieving psychologist and single parent, whose life’s work had been to advocate for parents with intellectual disabilities to help them keep custody of their children. My spinal cord injury thrust me into a life as a newly-disabled parent, experiencing first hand the barriers and discrimination I’d witnessed for others.

I became one of those moms who wondered when child welfare officials would knock on the door with an apprehension order for me to give up her child.

In a remarkably short few months, determined not to let the accident take my professional identity, I returned to work-in her wheelchair. There, the strategies that had served me well before were ineffective. In fact, they were making things worse.

mom on wheels book

Book available in French and English

As a clinical psychologist, I told herself…

I should have been able to prevent my own depression, anxiety, and post-trauma.

I should have been able to reframe and rehabilitate myself.

I should have gone into post-traumatic growth and not post-traumatic disorder.

The should-haves fuelled deep shame and disappointment, which, in turn, increased my suffering.

But there were even bigger challenges.

Five days after the accident, I asked my parents to bring my son to the hospital. Thomas was frightened by the tubes and beeping machines. He refused to touch me, hug me, or sit beside me. I felt hurt that I couldn’t be there for him and that he kept turning to grandma for comfort.

For years I had dreamed about becoming a mother-not just any mother, but a great mother. An active mother, a role model mother. I plunged further into helplessness and powerlessness, my concept of perfect motherhood shattered on that Quebec roadway. And the child I’d worked so hard for being taken care of by others in a way that I couldn’t.

How can you be a good parent if you can’t bend down to tie your child’s shoes or scoop them into your arms for a hug or keep them safe at bath time without supervision? Does this make you a bad parent

Between physical therapy rehabilitation, new day-to-day logistics, battles with an insurance company, ongoing physical pain and pain management, I had to start over as a parent too.

And I did. Giving my PTSD time to heal, Marjorie mastered co-parenting 101 with my parents, prioritizing self-care, and-something I’d never done before as an overachiever-learned how to ask for help because parenting is hard work.

I finally accepted about myself what I believed about my former clients, those parents with disabilities: I may roll differently to-and with-my son but I already know how to be a good parent.

OUR YELLOW BRICK ROAD

Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, my Yellow Brick Road has been filled with several challenges. In my story, the hurricane is a car accident that rendered me paraplegic. I struggled for many years until I started to share my stories!

Storytelling gave me an interesting perspective on parenting, disability and life as a whole. Through impactful and inspirational speaking engagements, I have learned to share about how certain events shape our perspective, the lessons we can gain and how we connect with others.

And that led me to winning North America’s Inspirational Speaking Competition in 2021!

Part of the prize was a book deal.

Speakers had inspired me and had been my friends on my Yellow Brick Road to Recovery and I felt this prize was theirs too. Our Yellow Brick Road could ONLY be an anthology of powerful stories by award-winning speakers who understand and believe in the impact storytelling can have.

The authors I invited are touching and powerful and inspirational. They were to me. Let me introduce you to the activist, the cheerleader, the dancer, the nurse, the poet, the bullied, the abused, the immigrant, the moms, and the entrepreneurs.

These inspiring humans have taken countless stages to share their own experiences and revelations with audiences whose lives have had no choice but to be changed. This anthology is vulnerable, surprising, and relatable, composed of pain and triumph, health challenges and resilience, deep depression and pure joy, bullying and heartfelt kindness.

From brutal truths to prove that what you seek has been inside you all along, Our Yellow Brick Road requires nothing more from its readers than an open heart and a full box of tissues.