21: Mom Said No

21: Mom Said No

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

Mom Said No

Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

~Author Unknown

As I look back on my life and the countless ways she showed her love for me, I realize there are many reasons to thank my mother. Yet, the thing I am most grateful for is that soon after I was born, she said “no.” I was a very sick child, born with cerebral palsy. My pediatrician advised my mom to put me in a home for handicapped children. He said that I would be unable to do anything on my own.

When my sweet mom said “no,” that word made all the difference for me, and the direction my life would go.

As a younger woman, my mom sacrificed the carefree life that she could have had to make sure my siblings and I were fed, clothed and educated and that we were happy. My stepfather was a wonderful dad and loved me as his own. But he was a Marine and was stationed overseas a lot. My mom was often all alone taking care of my two older brothers and me. Later our family grew, and I got two younger brothers as well.

Somehow my mom managed to provide a loving and happy home while taking care of me with my health problems. Since I couldn’t walk or speak, I needed twenty-four-hour care. I know this must have made life harder for my mom, but she never seemed to mind.

Mom and I learned sign language together when I was only two years old. I attended school for handicapped children for nineteen years. I then decided to further my education by attending a community college and getting my GED. I went on to graduate with an Associate Degree in Computer Science. Looking back, Mom did the right thing by enrolling me in the school for handicapped children because I learned a lot at an early age. At school, the teachers taught me how to crawl, sit up by myself, type on a typewriter, write, and use more advanced sign language so I could communicate with people better. At that school, I made lifelong friends.

When I was seven years old, our home state chose me to be the Poster Child for handicapped children. Mom took me everywhere they needed me to go for publicity tours. We had many new experiences, all thanks to my mom. She felt it was important that I have this unique opportunity.

Every time I was in the hospital, which was often, my mom stayed with me. Some of those times, it meant that she had to leave my dad and brothers for weeks.

I know I have proved that the pediatrician at my birth was completely wrong about me. He assumed that I would be unable to do anything for myself. Even though I can’t walk or speak, I graduated from college. I love to write and I have my own mind. I even got married to a loving man. Recently, we celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary.

I give the credit for all of this to my sweet and devoted mom. Because of her love for me, she did not listen to my doctor all those years ago. If she had, I’m sure I would not be who I am today. I am so grateful and blessed that my mom kept me out of a group home. If she had not sacrificed for me, I would have not known my four great brothers and had an awesome childhood with them. We had fun together, playing outdoors and swimming in our backyard pool.

Now that I am a married adult, I know how hard it must have been for our mom to stay home and have her life revolve around us. Mom always encouraged me to be my best and make my own decisions. Once I made a decision, she was always supportive and helped in any way she could. Even though I know and feel it, Mom tells me that she “loves me bunches” every chance she gets.

If Mom had listened to that pediatrician long ago, I would not have a blessed life with my devoted and loving husband, family and good friends. I would have missed out on a lot of wonderful things. I am so blessed and thrilled that my mom loved me enough to say, “No.” Thank you, Mom! I love you bunches too!

~Terrie Lynn Birney

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