This weekend was another milestone for Sophia. We went to the mall without her wheelchair. What an emotional experience it was. I feel incredibly proud of her, making her way down the foyer just holding my hand. I was aware of everything around us. I wanted to protect her from onlookers and people who walk carelessly almost knocking her down. I also want her to feel comfortable walking just like the rest of us. It was hard to find a balance between being present and being protective. Being present meant that I was in the flow of the moment. Being protective meant guarding, preventing, and anticipating any falls or missteps before they happen.
We made a final stop in an Old Navy that was crowded more than normal from their sale. The check-out line was extremely long. I almost gave up. Yet we did the bulk of our shopping in here and it took me a while to find Sophia’s size with some of the sale items. Do I give up at the end or wait in line? I decided to wait it out. Sophia was holding on by a thread. I mean she already championed a crowded clothing store, waited patiently for lunch, and mustered enough energy to get through Old Navy. Was I really making her stand in a forever long line? YES. Because in life sometimes you have to just wait your turn. I want her to experience that. I want her to learn patience with others and strength within herself.
The woman behind me started to chat about the long wait. Some others in front of us griped about the long line. As the line snaked around to pour into the isle, Sophia gave me a look of complete exhaustion. When Sophia gets physically tired of standing, we stop and have an impromptu dance party. She laughs, jumps around a bit, and seems to be energized by the silly celebration long enough to go on. Thank God they were playing decent music, by the third dance party I notice less griping around us. The line was finally moving, and we were halfway there. The woman behind me said, “I know it’s a lot of work to take her out, and I’m glad you did. We need to see more kiddo’s like her out and about”. Guys I was numb for a second, I couldn’t believe what she said. My heart felt an immense warmness that took over me. I had to remember where I was, so I wouldn’t have a full ugly cry moment. She saw us really trying, doing what so many may take for granted. And others around us nodded in agreement. Then the lady that was next allowed us to cut in front of her. We made community right there in Old Navy waiting in that line. I was so touched. All I could do was move forward.
So much of my experience out with Sophia is just us trying our best to be productive. Yes, she has Cerebral Palsy, but I still need to get groceries and run weekly errands. She loves to dance like every other 9-year-old girl I know, and she will dance around every chance given. We are moving through this world the best way we know how, one foot in front of the other. I appreciate the moments when others share how just us being present has impacted them. I don’t do it to get any sympathy, I am living this course of life with my kid the best way I know how. My biggest prayer as she engages with the world more and more that there are spaces where she can fully be herself. I cherish each moment I see her being accepted, embraced, and acknowledged for who she is. Sophia is a bubbly girl who loves dancing, walking with mom, and now shopping in the mall.