She Walks.

I’ve written hundreds of blog posts.  Maybe even thousands.

But a few seem to stand out for me.  Not so much because they are eloquently written, but for some reason, I remember them.  The words, the thoughts, how my heart ached as I typed in the dark of early morning.

The one about buying a pink doll stroller for Lucy’s first birthday.

It seems to have burrowed down deep into my head.  And heart, really.

I distinctly remember gulping hard and asking, hoping out loud, “we can get Jilly a stroller for her 2nd birthday, right?”

Because at her first birthday, she still wasn’t even so much as sitting up on her own.  She wasn’t even strong enough to hold a normal sized baby doll.  So she got a miniature one instead.  And the thought of her being strong enough to walk seemed light years away.

And her second birthday came and she still wasn’t anywhere near ready for a plastic doll stroller.

And then her third birthday, still none.

And her fourth.

Birthdays always felt like heavy reminders.  When suddenly I was hit with the reality that, yeah, Our Normal isn’t Everyone’s Normal.  And my cute pig-tailed girl really does have special needs.  Because lots of times it’s just what we do.  I almost forget.

And that blog post, but really that question, when would she get her very own doll stroller, haunted me.  Lots of times, but especially at birthdays.

The thing is, for a long time we’ve kinda figured she would walk eventually.

Therapists and medical teams all felt fairly confident that someday, and in some capacity, she would be walking.  It’s just that no one really knew when.  Or to what degree.  Would she be able to walk for short spurts and then need assistance?  Maybe just in the confines of her home, but need a chair or crutches or something in public?  No one had that elusive crystal ball I had begged God for on several occasions.

“Dear God, I almost don’t even care what the outcome is (well, you know that’s a lie…because God), but can you tell me what it will be?  Just so I can prepare myself?  So I can know?  I’ve never been one for surprises.  I’m not even going to be picky about it.  I just would like to know what I’m in for.  Love, j.”

I still feel that way about her speech.  About what her adult life will look like.

But we didn’t always know.  She’s our little mystery.  Because we were warned that she might have profound, round the clock needs.  In fact, at one point, I was told she would likely need orthopedic surgery.

Or, nothing at all.  She might be fully typical.

Or, well, anything in between those two extremes.

Which is a super un-fun range to work in.  In case you were wondering.

As parents, every day is a guessing game of sorts.  Even now we don’t know what 21 year old Jill will look like.  Well, we know she will be DARLING, but will she go out for drinks with her girlfriends and I’ll hold her hair back and we’ll talk about moderation?  Or will she have a quiet night of cake at home and a Disney movie?  Or anything in between.

So this year, for her fifth birthday, I decided to buy her this shopping cart.

It wasn’t quite a doll stroller, but heavy and made of metal, it was sturdy and wouldn’t tip over when she leaned her weight into it.

And she could put a doll in it.

That’ll do.

She’s been taking a few steps on her own for the last few months.  One here.  Three there.  Maybe ten wobbly ones if I held my breath and didn’t let her know I was watching.  I figured the shopping cart would be stable enough for her to push.

photo (17)

And then we moved into this house.  This photo was taken barely a month ago.

This house that feels like home.  “Jeannett, I know we’ve only been here for 6 weeks, but I feel like we’ve been here forever.  I don’t feel like I’m coming to a new place.  I feel like I’m Home.”

This house that feels like it was built special just for us 12 years ago.  We just didn’t know it yet.

And within DAYS of moving in, I would look up to find my girl walking across the living room.

All the way.  A little wobbly, but all the way.

I would hold my breath.  Try to watch her out of the corner of my eye.  Afraid to jinx it.  Like when you play pretend with an imaginary friend and you get caught.

And within a week of moving in, her walker was parked, what turned out to be permanently, in the corner.

And Girlfriend was hauling.  All around.  From one end of the house to the other.  In the front yard.  In the backyard.  On the carpet.  On the grass.

Sure she loses her footing sometimes.  And if she goes too fast, she might get a little ahead of herself.

But She Walks.

In fact, I’ve folded up her walker.  It’s in the closet.

We went out of town this weekend.  AND WE DIDN’T TAKE IT.


Last week, I had to go to the hardware store.  I hesitated at first.  Reached to put her too long legs into the cart seat.

But you know what?  Now was as good a time as any.  It would always be inconvenient.

Being a parent is inconvenient.

So I let her walk.  I had no idea what to expect.  I wasn’t sure how far she would get.  If she would get tired.  If she’d get scared.

She walked.

The whole way.  The whole time.  She even wandered off and got lost.  No, really.  I panicked.  BECAUSE SHE’S FAST.

And when I found her, two aisles over looking at bathtub parts, I laughed.  BECAUSE SHE GOT LOST.  Because she could get lost.  Because she was independent.  Because she walked.

I have so many thoughts swirling in my head.  Directions I want to go.  Things I feel I need to say.  But for now, I’ll end this post with video.

Please don’t miss the hugeness of this task most of us take for granted.

This was the first time in her entire life she had experienced shopping like this.

She had never seen aisles and products and shelves from this vantage point.   Nor with this level of freedom.  Or with her knees getting jammed into the seat made for infants.

Watching these videos…even just from one week ago…she is so much steadier and quicker. Everyday is a noticeable difference.

I’m so proud of that girl.


I like this.  A lot.  A lot. A lot.

Because Always.




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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

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  1. 53

    Boy, I don’t have the words to say how impressive and lovely and … yeah, just awesome that is!
    All the best wishes for all of you!

  2. 54

    Wow praise God.

  3. 55
    Shannon Barnett says:

    That is just awesome!!! Loved sharing in your joy. She has been through so much and she is flourishing!!! Smiling for her and you!