I struggle with self-confidence. My ability to perform in front of a crowd from a young age may seem like that statement is false, however true self-belief and the ‘I know I can’ attitude is difficult for me to muster. When I perform, I perform for me, but doubt always follows. I become fixated on others’ opinions and if I’m ‘good enough’ in their eyes. It’s easy for outsiders to say, ‘It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks’, but a life filled with stares, judgments and rejections, has made it difficult, at times, to stand proud for who I am.
I was born with a genetic condition, originally diagnosed Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bones). When I was pregnant with my first child, I was re-diagnosed with Cleidocranial Dysplasia (CCD). Major issues for someone with CCD are low bone density, short stature, susceptibility to fractures, low muscle tone, childbearing complications, dental issues and otosclerosis.
I am 34 years old and stand as high as the average eight-year-old. I was fitted with hearing aids five years ago, after the birth of my first child dramatically reduced my hearing ability. I have endured several fractures and dislocations; the latest being a rib fracture last year, sustained whilst leaning into the cot to pick up my three-month-old son. Throughout my life I’ve had comments and jokes made about my ‘cuteness’, my shortness. I’ve had people question my age and ability to perform adult tasks. During a night out with friends, a stranger congratulated me for being able to ‘get out into the community.’ I wasn’t aware that my differences meant having to hide away!
Becoming a mother has tested my physical ability beyond its means; from daily lifting of a 14 kg chunky toddler, to navigating two children, a pram and a heavy shopping basket, needing assistance during EVERY grocery shop to reach items shelved out of children’s reach, carting my children to and from car seats and chasing, carrying, and restraining them at parks and playgrounds, setting up a step-ladder at 3am to climb and reach the Panadol in the kitchen cupboard when one child is sick and bellowing, the inability to hear my children’s gentle calls to me through the night. Becoming a parent has changed my entire life-perspective. The physical struggles remain, but emotionally, I am strong. I am living this life not only for me, but for my children. To know (my husband and) I have kept two little humans alive and well, and continue to do so every day, brings reassurance. To see my children laugh and love life validates my place in this world. They don’t see disability. They see a caring, hard-working, adoring Mum, and this unconditional love has instilled self-belief.
Look out community, here I come!