Editor’s note: Glenn Moscoso is a husband and father living with Cerebral Palsy. After scouring the Internet for resources on being a dad in a wheelchair and coming up empty, he created his blog, Wheelchair Daddy. Since becoming a parent, he doesn’t have much time for hobbies, but enjoys an occasional game of golf and flying drones with his son.
Life with Cerebral Palsy
I grew up in a middle class home, and my schooling was mainstream. My parents raised me to acknowledge my disability but not allow it to define or limit me. I had chores; I was expected to clean my room, change my sheets, etc. For fun, I drove go-karts with my cousins. My dad and uncle came up with a way to modify the gas and brake pedals. In addition, I played wheelchair soccer and basketball.
When I was in my undergraduate program, it was prior to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), so services for people with disabilities were minimal. I was lucky enough to have surrounded myself with a good group of friends who assisted me with things but at the same time accepted me as a friend for ME and not because of my disability.
After getting my master’s degree in Adult Education and Online Learning, I spent some time teaching a college-level Human Resources class. However, as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the college had to do some structural reorganization, so I no longer teach. I still work at the college as an Assistive Technology Coordinator and Academic Coach. I manage the computer lab in the Office of Disability Services and assist students with disabilities with time management, course selection, and to a certain degree, self-acceptance and “owning” their challenges.
Becoming a Dad
I didn’t have doubts related to my disability about becoming a dad, but I would say I had some concerns about how I would hold him, carry him, pick him up, and feed him- all the aspects of having a newborn. However, when my son was born, and I held him the first time, I experienced an overwhelming sense of calm and inner peace.
Editor’s Note: Glenn wrote a post on his blog on August, 2016, about the “Disability Shark” circling (think Jaws) in reference to his preschool-aged son starting to show signs of curiosity about why his dad uses a wheelchair. At the time, they hadn’t yet had “the disability talk”. Wheel:Life asked him if there were any further developments since the post.
The shark has turned into a fish in a fishbowl, constantly watching, learning and understanding. He gets my disability and my abilities, I would venture to say, more than any adult, or maybe even more than my own parents. Before he learned how to walk, he would sit on the floor and have one hand on my chair as he played. Just the other day, my wife was telling him we might go on a cruise this summer. Rather than instant excitement, his first question was, “Mommy, is there a ramp so Daddy can get on?” He didn’t get excited until we showed him pictures of cruises we took before he was born.
My wife has Cerebral Palsy as well, but hers is less involved.
She is able to walk, and it doesn’t affect her speech much. I believe my son understands his mom is different but possibly less so than his dad, since she is able to walk.
What’s interesting about my son is that he knows his mom’s abilities versus my abilities, so when he needs help he will come to us based on what he needs. For example, if he needs something opened or put together he’ll come to me, because I have better fine motor skills; but if he can’t reach something up high or wants to be read to, he goes to my wife. He does this with little or no thought, which is completely fascinating. I think at some point, he’s going to want to know what Cerebral Palsy is and how it happened.
One thing I’ve learned from watching my son is that quite a bit of my mannerisms are not associated with my Cerebral Palsy but rather simply in my DNA. Some of my son’s mannerisms are the same as mine, which was surprising when I first discovered it, because I used to think certain things I did were CP related.
I believe my son has been an unbelievable equalizer.
When I am with him, it feels as though my wheelchair disability disappears. Whether it’s at his school, t-ball, or at the store, I feel as though people see me and treat me with more respect. I’m no longer the guy in the wheelchair; I’m just a parent.
When I first found out we were having a boy, I searched the web daily for anything I could find about being a dad in a wheelchair. I found a few things but nothing of real substance. The few things I did find were based in the UK. Mostly, what I came across were sites geared towards mothers and their questions and concerns. Even the sites with titles such as “Parents with Disabilities” still had a mother angle and were heavily oriented towards women. Thus, Wheelchair Daddy was born.
I hope to accomplish a few things with my blog. I’d like to provide a resource for future dads in wheelchairs. I’d also like to grow it into a business that possibly opens the door to the speaking circuit. Most importantly, I’d like it to be a journal for my son to read one day.
Betsy Bailey has a diverse background including experience in marketing research at American Express, business operations and client relations with 601am, travel and culinary writing with VegDining, and playing volleyball professionally overseas.
Betsy is excited to get back into writing, something she’s adored since childhood, and thoroughly enjoys the process of getting to know her interviewees. On top of her work with Wheel:Life, she also teaches students learning English as a second language, speaks French fluently, and travels any chance she gets!