Written by Lyla Swafford, author of It Takes More Than Legs to Stand. Her memoir is available on Amazon or you connect with when you follow her blog.

My daughter came as an unexpected gift. As a woman with cerebral palsy, people didn’t think I could birth or raise a child. So I never dreamed of being a mother. But God is full of surprises! After a normal pregnancy, I walked into the hospital. Rachael was born a week early. When Mom heard the news, she drove from Montana to Oregon in record time, with her arms full of gifts from friends and family.

When we got home from the hospital, reality set in. Frustration over the inability to change my baby overwhelmed me. I burst into tears. Sobbing, I resolved, “No two-week-old baby is it going to get the best of me.”

Day by day, we developed ways to care for my precious newborn. My dear Mom, who always tries to make my life easier. One of ways she did this was to put Velcro on Rachael’s baby clothes.

As my little girl grew, she learned to be a team player. I couldn’t pick her up with both hands, so to get her out of the crib. Together, we  learned how we could do it “our way,” accommodating my weaker right hand. As my “big helper,” she may be the only kid allowed to stand on the cupboards in order to reach the dishes.

Mom visited as long as she could, but eventually had to go home to another state. I hired caregivers to help me do many of the things we expect mothers to do. This meant there was always someone else with us on our adventures. But we enjoyed a strong mother-daughter bond.

The year I turned fifty, I knew Rachael would go to Disneyland with her freshman band. I didn’t want her first theme park experience to be without me. There are some things mothers like to do with their daughters first. Before her scheduled trip, I asked one of my best friends to go with us to Disneyland. It brought me great joy to see my daughter have fun and not worry about taking care of me. The three of us played hard and went on the rides. When we were ready to go home, my friend Joanne said,  “I really don’t like rides, but I didn’t want you to show me up!”

Fast forward twenty years. My daughter drove me and my three young grandchildren from Colorado to Montana to visit my mother, Great Grandma Elaine. Four generations together. An amazing blessing. The kids loved chasing the kittens at the family wheat farm and learning how to swim with Great Grandma at the nearby town’s pool. Even pit stops for gasoline were an adventure. Shopping at Costco was a hoot with three grandchildren under the age of eight. They all took turns climbing on the scooter with me; big smiles shining on their faces.

Even the difficult things in life can be gifts when we see how God uses them to teach us. God richly blessed me with the mother he gave me, and again by the unexpected gift of being Rachael’s mom.




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