5 Ways My Life Changed When I Lived With Someone With Disabilities

5 Ways My Life Changed When I Lived With Someone With Disabilities

Any family living with a disabled adult knows that life completely changes with them around.

Several years ago after the death of my grandfather, my aunt moved in with my family. She's 45-years-old, deaf, intellectually delayed, OCD and my favorite person. As a kid, my favorite weekends were the ones where she'd visit us for a few nights, sleep on the futon in our bedroom, play games with us and take notes while watching movies. When she moved in, I was excited. We'd have Wendy around all the time and nothing could be better. And while this was definitely the case, there were plenty of huge changes that came from living with someone with special needs. Anyone who's been in a similar situation would agree that life with a disabled child or adult at home is completely exhausting, amazing and constantly unexpected.

These are just a few of the ways that life with Wendy changed the lives of my family and I; things I'm sure many other families like ours will relate to in a very real way.

1. I became infinitely more patient than ever before.

Answering the same question dozens of times and waiting 10 extra minutes to get in the car while your disabled aunt wanders around in the house and turns on and back off every light switch builds patience incredibly quickly. These examples are different for every person, but I'd guarantee that every caretaker of a disabled adult has developed immense patience living with someone who takes extra time to do just about everything.

2. My family built and moved into a new house.

When my aunt moved in, our house just wasn't equipped to take on an extra person, particularly an adult with disabilities. She stayed temporarily in our finished basement, but my parents soon decided to build a new home, and we moved the next year. Though this example certainly isn't universal, many families living with a disabled relative may have made similar large life changes to accommodate for the person they're caring for.

3. Making a commitment became equivalent to signing a binding contract.

When I tell my aunt I'll take her to the library today, I will be taking her to the library. If I don't, then I won't hear the end of it until the second we finally enter the library the next day. I learned very quickly never to tell Wendy we'd do something without knowing for sure if I could actually do it. She's the person I'd least want to disappoint, and the one who'd never let me live it down if I did.

4. I thought 10 times less about my own needs and 10 times more about hers.

Is that her calling me right now? She needs me to brush her hair? She needs help cutting up stickers? She needs a snack? Water? A hug?

These were my more common thoughts throughout a day at home with Wendy. Not only did she make constant requests and demands of me, but I wanted her to be happy and satisfied at all times, and concerned myself far more with that than whatever I had going on.

5. Our family dynamic shifted.

We went from a "normal" family with three children to a kooky three kid-two parent-one Wendy household (though my sister and I were only there half of the time, and spent the other half with our other parents). She's my aunt and my mom's sister, but in many ways, she's more like one of the kids -- and a much more high maintenance one at that. We suddenly used ASL more than ever before, spent portions of every dinner updating Wendy on the current topic of discussion and took weekly visits to the library to choose movies for her to watch. My parents' attention became more divided than ever before, though I was completely unbothered by it, knowing that my attention had also become more Wendy-centric. That's just what she expects.

We were still the same family, but the subtler things automatically shifted when Wendy came to be a permanent member of our house.

Cover Image Credit: Annie Burdick

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21 Things You Say To Your Roommate If You Two Are Practically A Married Couple

Until I made this list, I didn't realize how absurdly close my roommate and I were. #sorrynotsorry

1. "Can you turn the light off?"

2. "We probably shouldn't go out for dinner again...right?"

*complains about not having money* *spends $8 on Chipotle three times a week*

3. "I always pick where we go"

This is a fight you have with your roommate almost every day when you're roommate is as indecisive as mine.

4. "Do you have my keys?"

5. "Can you pick me up?"

6. "Is it hot in here?"

7. "Does this outfit look stupid?"

The answer is usually yes. No offense.

8. "Can you throw this out for me?"

9. "Can we get ice cream?"

10. "I need coffee"

This text is usually sent when you know your roomie is out running errands... errands you know are near a Starbucks.

11. "Can you tell me what happened?"

12. "Are you asleep?"

There have been times where I couldn't tell if you were asleep or dead... and I had to say this out loud to check if you were alive.

13. "Check your dm's."

*cracks up in the middle of nowhere* *catches a weird stare from your roomie across the room*

14. "Can you plug this in for me?"

15. "Can you pick a movie?"

Another instance where "I always pick" happens.

16. "Look at this girl's Instagram."

*chucks phone across the room at roommate*

17. "Can you call me?"

18. "Can we meet up?"

Separation anxiety is a real thing, people.

19. "Can you help me find my phone?"

*Tries to leave the house to do something* *loses phone* every. time.

20. "What should we do tonight?"

*tries to get ready to do something fun* *ends up staying in for another girls night*

21. "Why isn't everyone as great as us?"

Cover Image Credit: Juliarose Genuardi

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To The Parent Who Takes Care Of More Than Just Her Kids

Moms don't just have kids and keep them alive. They take care of much, much more, and for that I'm very grateful.

Mother’s Day has passed and another important day for me is right around the corner: my mom’s birthday. While she’s an amazing mother, she does so much more than just be my mom, and I’d like to thank her for it. So without further ado, mom — since I know you’re reading this — this one’s for you.

I always knew that I would write a piece thanking my mom for everything she does for me. Who knows, I’ve got some more years left, and I might end up writing one from a different angle. Regardless, my mom has been there for me in so many ways throughout my life. One of my earliest memories of my mom is me scraping my knee and her telling me to put a bandage on it and take a Tylenol. At the time I was upset that she wasn’t cleaning it for me and babying me, but now I know that a little tough love is what I need sometimes. She’s taught me to take care of my own problems when I can, and she’s there to help me out when I can’t .

As I got older, I began to get interested and involved in things that weren’t my mom’s cup of tea. I went through volleyball, band, musicals, plays, golf, and at almost every event she was there. One of the biggest things I appreciate about my mom is how she’s ALWAYS there. She may have brought a book to all of my golf matches, but the effort she put in to follow me around to every hole showed me how much she cared. She’s taught me that just showing up can tell how much you care.

Now that I’m in college my mom’s presence has been more important than ever. Maybe I don’t physically need her as much, but her emotional support is invaluable. I used to take many of the things my mom did for granted, but now that I have to do some of those same things for myself, I see how much she work she regularly puts in. Multiply that times three and you get what she does for all three of her kids. There’s nothing like a phone call to my mom to clear my head and feel immensely better about whatever it is that I’m stressed over. She continues to support me in every way that she can, and I can’t show her my appreciation enough.

My mom has taught me many lessons, and I don’t know how I would’ve made it this far without her. Right now my mom is being a mother not only to her children, but to her own mother as well. She shoulders the responsibility of taking care of her kids and making sure her mom is taken care of too. Mom, I see all that you do for everyone around you. No matter what nosy neighbors might think, you’re doing an amazing job of taking care of the people around you.

Being a mom is more than just having kids and making sure they’re fed. It’s being a support system and shouldering whatever responsibility comes along with it. You show up to things and teach your kids to be strong with or without you. I’m so thankful for you, Mom. As your birthday approaches (or passes depending on when this gets published), know that you’re appreciated. I see the things you do, and the work that you put in. Happy Birthday, Happy Mother’s Day, and thank you.

Cover Image Credit: Abigail Shores

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