A newly pregnant friend asked me recently what was the hardest part of being a mom. To me it's allowing your kid to fail so he can learn to get up again. But I have learned to grind my teeth and let them do it. That is why the video story told by Lex Gillette's mom moved me so deeply.
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"The hardest thing I ever had to tell my son is that he would never see again," starts Verdina Gillette-Simms, Lex's mother. I can feel her constricted chest. Her whole being refusing to say the words her then 8-year-old son needed to hear to accept, adapt and thrive.
I can't claim to have gone through something so heartbreaking, but I do know what it's like to have a child with a disability and to realize how hard it is to accept as a parent that their life is going to be harder than you hoped. And how excruciating and scary it is to tell them about the difficulties that lie ahead for them.
My son, who suffers from anxiety so severe, it's almost crippling, took his first school trip by himself a few weeks ago. This is a kid that shakes with fear at the thought of meeting new people. We let him go and it was very, very hard.
So Lex Gillette's mom and I can tell you that you have to let your child fail. By doing so, you are empowering them. Every time your child conquers an obstacle he or she becomes stronger. Every time they do something hard for themselves, their self esteem soars, their self reliance increases.
Elexis "Lex" Gillette is the best completely blind long- and triple-jumper in the history of the U.S. Paralympics. He is the current world record holder in the long jump, a three-time Paralympic medalist, a two-time long jump world champion, and a 16-time national champion. None of this would have been possible if his amazing and brave mom had allowed her need to keep him safe win.
This is their story, in her own words. Prepare yourself to be blown away:
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