‘Never judge a book by its cover’ is one of life’s most important lessons – and one we should remind ourselves of as often as possible. Just look at the touching story of Robert Hoge, who’s journey has been anything but simple. Another reminder comes from Rachel Bitmead’s story. Her daughter suffers from joint hypermobility syndrome, a muscular disease that makers her weak and tired from even the smallest physical activity. To cope, her 5-year-old sometimes needs to use a stroller to get around.
But, when Rachel’s daughter is seen being pushed around in a stroller, she is met with harsh looks of judgment by strangers who mock the family for being lazy.
Rachel has finally responded with this powerful letter that she wants everyone to read:
This open letter is to all of you that have looked and judged my daughter over the last few days — looking, frowning at her, those little whispers behind my back thinking I can’t hear you.
Come and talk to me and ask me why my daughter is in a stroller that she is ‘too big’ for.
The reason Miss M, my daughter, is sitting in a stroller (not looking happy I may add) is because she has joint hypermobility syndrome.
When she walks more than usual or when it’s too hot, she has pain in her lower body. Her legs, ankles, and feet are very painful.
So she actually cannot walk far at all without needing to be picked up.
Even when I pick her up, she cannot put her legs around me in order for me to carry her, because she does not have strength in them during this time.
Plus, to be honest, my back cannot cope carrying her for long periods of time. She is on pain medication and anti-inflammatory medicines to help her until she starts to feel better.
She doesn’t always need the stroller. She has gone an entire year without needing it, but since our holiday she has walked too much and over-exerted herself.
I didn’t think about bringing it when we went away. I wish I did because poor Mr. B had to carry her around most of the time.
When we are out, I have found myself talking out loud to Miss M about her legs. I’ll ask her, ‘How are your feet are feeling? Has the pain medication helped yet? Hopefully, you’ll be walking around again in no time.’
I do this just so I can give complete strangers reasons as to why Miss M is using a stroller.
And I am fed up with it.
So the next time you see a child in a stroller and think he or she looks ‘too old’ to be in it, don’t judge or assume the child or parent is lazy. Don’t whisper behind the parent’s back or frown at either of them.
For one, a child being in a stroller has nothing to do with anyone else, and two, the child might actually have a reason to be using one.
From a fed up mum with a daughter who can’t walk at the moment without being in pain.
Each person has their own unique battle to fight, and it is our differences that make us unique. This mother’s powerful letter is an important reminder to never judge a book by its cover – and I hope that more people get to read it. Please share this to spread the lesson that there’s always more to the story than we might think.