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Can I Ask You a Personal Question?

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“Can I ask you a personal question?”

This is how you look when you ask 'personal questions.'

Imagine getting that question almost every day of your life.   Enough to where I get the knee-jerk reaction to say “No, not unless I can ask you first.”  Well, that is if my knee could jerk.  I’ve decided that since everyone wants to know, here it is.  All in its glory. No longer will you have to wonder–about the realm of motherhood and disability, that is.

Pregnant women everywhere will tell you that they are aghast at the things people feel free to do and say to them as they are with child.  Strangers come up and see it as their right to touch the women’s tummies without asking questions. Here are some examples of that same kind of “entitlement” to know everything.

No, it doesn’t hurt.

I was working full-time when I was pregnant with our child.  My husband and I had worked different shifts.  I’d come home after midnight and he’d leave before 8 a.m.  We didn’t see much of each other our early years of marriage.  Our way of connection was during my dinner break.

Our family hanging with Mickey during Christmas 2012.

Every day, I’d call him on the phone while eating my dinner.  After hanging up the phone one time, my co-worker said to me, “Does he hurt you?”  My ears weren’t sure what I was hearing.  I said “What?” She said again, “Does he hurt you?”  I said “What do you mean?”  She says, “When you have sex.”

I was beyond appalled that she could fathom to think of asking me such a question.  Dying inside, I wanted to say “Oh my gosh! Does your husband abuse you, shall I call 911?”  After all, isn’t that what she means?  The only way someone would hurt you sexually is if it’s abusive, right?

Instead, being the dignified disabled citizen I want to be portrayed as, all I said was, “No, he doesn’t hurt me.”  Then I tried to defuse any more conversation with her. I don’t feel the need to ask an able-bodied person about their sex life. Why should they?

I don’t hatch eggs.

Yes, there are many ways to have a child these days.  There’s adoption, fertilization, by cesarean birth and straight out of the womb, to just name a few.  Each journey is individual and private.  Does it really matter?  A family is God-given and He wants the unit to be united and reflective of His love.  Why does it really matter how you’ve been blessed to be given your child?  As long as it it legal.

Yet, it still matters to people who do not have a disability. They still ask those questions like, “Did you have your daughter naturally?”  I’m sure you, the reader, would never ponder these questions and especially wouldn’t have the gall to ask me out loud.

What’s natural?  Cheetos aren’t natural but milk is.  Are you implying that my daughter isn’t natural?  Is she processed?  Did Nabisco cook her up in some factory?

I’m in my 40s, not 4.

That high-pitched, over-excited voice will never escape my head.  We had attended a small church for over three years and had been pretty involved in it.  One time in the hallway, a lady whom I’ve had several conversations with in the past, exclaimed so excitedly in that I’m-talking-to-a-four-year-old voice of how happy she was to see me today and how glad she was that I came.

Dying inside (again), I just smiled and thought to myself, “Wow, really?” Saying thanks, I walked away.

Really, you don’t need to be so astonished to see me. After all, there are only about 200 people that attend the same service each Sunday. Our kids go to the same class.

I may mobile around at the height of an average standing 7-year-old, but really, I did earn that bachelor’s degree, bought my first house at 27, supported my family as the sole income provider, so please don’t talk to me like I’m four when I’m really in my 40s–a grown adult in my own right like you!.

I didn’t realize I was so invisible.

I’m a mom, just like you.  I have feelings, wishes, dreams, hopes, plans and motherly duties.  Yes, I may be a mom with an apparent disability, but I’m still a mom, raising a wonderful child.

So as you update your status on Facebook about the awesome things you did with your girlfriend that you invited over to your house, or that late-night rendezvous with “a friend” at Wal-mart or having that tea party–don’t forget one thing. It hurts that you never invite me.

Just because I use a wheelchair doesn’t mean I don’t have my own brain to figure out how to visit your home and it doesn’t mean I can’t go shopping with you.

Yes, I’m not driving, but it’s not because I can’t physically, that is.  It’s because my vehicles cost about $30,000 more than what you paid for yours.  A modest family on our income can’t afford a $60,000 vehicle just for the luxury of me being able to drive. So my husband will drive me. And he won’t even listen in on our conversations.

Don’t you sweat the details.  I’m adult enough to know how to do it myself.  I’ve invited you on park dates and shopping sprees–don’t forget to return the favor.

I’m not invisible. I just have to do things differently.

So, what was that personal question you wanted to ask?

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About Jennifer Gorman

When not being "Mom-ed" by her wonderful daughter, cooking for great husband Jeff D Gorman, Jennifer is homeschooling, learning about canning and co-producing with her husband for The Mobility Resource. Jennifer contracted polio as a child in the early 70s as a result of poor medical conditions in her native Vietnam. She enjoys motherhood, interviewing people, traveling, eating the finest foods at great restaurants and roaming her three acres of land.

13 Responses

  1. [...] Confessions from a Mom with a Disability By Jennifer Gorman [...]

  2. [...] Confessions from a Mom with a Disability By Jennifer Gorman [...]

  3. [...] Confessions from a Mom with a Disability By Jennifer Gorman [...]

  4. [...] Confessions from a Mom with a Disability By Jennifer Gorman [...]

  5. [...] Confessions from a Mom with a Disability By Jennifer Gorman [...]

  6. [...] I get a lot of goofy comments. Maybe not as outrageous as the questions my wife gets, but people say things like [...]

  7. [...] hela krönikan av Holly Warland. Jennifer Gormans lista på kommentarer som hon fått. Här är en sida med kommentarer som en make till en rörelsehindrade kvinna [...]

  8. avatar Carolan Ivey says:

    ((“Does he hurt you?”))

    Wow. Just wow.

    The little devil on my left shoulder would probably have me answering “Only when I want him to.” (evil grin)

    • avatar Jennifer Gorman says:


      I’m sorry I never saw this until now. Your comment makes me laugh and wished I wasn’t so appalled to think of such thing! :-)

  9. avatar Danielle says:

    Wow! Thank you for this! I’m 25 cerebral palsy, I use a wheelchair, but have pretty good mobility, and the best fiance I could ever dream of. I want to have children sometime in the near future so hearing you say everything I’ve thought or wondered since I was a teenager means a lot.

    I’ve gotten the does it hurt question a lot too. My other favorite is when people find out I’m engaged their first question is: What kind of disability does he have? I always want to respond with why, do you think that no one “normal” could love me? My fiance is a completely able bodied young man that stands at 6’1″ We often joke that I dated him so he could get things off of high shelves, but really he’s just my someone.

    Anyway thanks for being everything I aspire to be, and for putting it out there for women like me.

  10. avatar Jennifer Gorman says:


    You’re so welcome! It’s hard to know each day “Should I tackle this question or just keep them hanging?”

    Keep your chin up, don’t let pesky questions run your day and be encouraged and authentic!


  11. [...] More From This Author: Can I Ask You a Personal Question? [...]

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