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Mom Shares Incredible 'First' With Her Disabled Child— 'I Am So Incredibly Proud Of Watching Him Be Proud Of Himself'

Photo: raising_rouses / Instagram
Maggie Rouse and her kids

Maggie Rouse is a mom to three kids, with an Instagram presence focused on “disability parenting and single mom lifestyle.”

Through her social media presence, she opens a window into her daily life as a medical mama, sharing all the worries, stresses, and fears that can accompany raising a child with medical difficulties, who’s in need of heightened care. Yet she also shares the positive parts, the shiny moments of joy, gratitude, and love.

The mom shared an incredible ‘first’ moment milestone with her disabled son, reveling in how proud he felt in his accomplishment.

Rouse posted a video of her son, Ridge, mastering a monumental first — the first time he got into his wheelchair by himself. She filmed herself and her daughter sitting in their kitchen, a rapt audience for Ridge’s big move. “I’m doing it. Evie, watch,” he instructed his sister. Ridge knelt on the floor, holding onto his wheelchair, ready for what came next. He lifted his body to standing, holding onto his chair for balance. Then, he hoisted himself up and into his wheelchair, all on his own.

“Dude. Dude! Oh my gosh,” Rouse exclaimed, her smile wide, her eyes lit with pride. “No way!”

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Ridge giggled wildly, the kind of laugh that only kids seem to have the power to make — that bright, jangling sound of utter happiness. Ridge kept laughing as he slid into the seat of his wheelchair, rightfully impressed with his own labor. “How do you feel?” she asked, and Ridge replied, “Good.”

As he settled into the chair, Rouse’s voice lifted, requesting a high five from her son, which he readily gave her. “First time ever!” she proclaimed as their hands met, which made Ridge laugh all over again.

In the caption to her post, Rouse explained why the moment was so special. “He has never been able to independently transfer INTO his chair, only transfer out,” she wrote. “His old wheelchair was too small for him to do this. I am so incredibly proud of watching him be proud of himself as he learns to do these things for himself, as his strength grows.”

Rouse's joyful pride was rooted in her son’s own sense of pride, for taking on a hard task and succeeding.

As Rouse shared in a separate post, Ridge was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs in utero, when a baby’s spinal cord fails to properly develop or doesn’t fully close. One in every 2,758 children are born with spina bifida each year. 

She noted that October is Spina Bifida Awareness month, and described the three different types of spina bifida. Spina Bifida Occulta, a common, mild type, occurs when a gap develops in between a developing baby’s vertebrae. Spina Bifida Meningocele is a more severe version. Her son has Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele, the most severe type, in which the spinal nerves protrude.

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In a different post, Rouse she described the connection between witnessing Ridge’s accomplishments and her own parenting journey. She wrote, “Disabled children becoming stronger and reaching new milestones is a physical representation of the internal journey of the mother.”

She also shared a response to a refrain ofte given to parents of disabled children, “I don’t know how you do it.”

“We don’t have a choice,” she wrote. “We aren’t superheroes. We don’t have special abilities. We are just moms learning how to care for our children, the same way we learn how to be parents to the individualized needs of our non-disabled/healthy children.” The firsts that Rouse and her son share might come on their own timeline, yet they still arrive. When they do, Rouse is there with her arms wide open, ready to receive Ridge in all his triumph. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers parenting, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.