Born with a rare birth defect, Sarah Kovac often uses her feet to care for her children. While it’s amazing to watch her in action (check out her YouTube channel), her disability is not what defines her. Recently, I had a chance to connect with Sarah and learn a little more about her, her story and her new book, In Capable Arms. Here is a bit of what she had to say.
By Michelle LaRowe, Editor in Chief, eNannySource
eNannySource: Tell us a little bit about your condition.
Sarah: AMC (Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita) is a rare birth defect that is diagnosed when a number of the baby’s joints are stiffened and underdeveloped. AMC can affect any joint in the body, but only my shoulders, arms and hands are affected, so I often use my feet instead.
eNannySource: What is the one thing you want people to know about you?
Sarah: I’m just like you. I don’t want to be labeled or boxed in or judged by my appearance. I am a person with depth and substance like everyone else. I’m more than the interesting way I do things.
eNannySource: What is the most difficult part of parenting, practically speaking from a care giving perspective?
Sarah: It’s been very difficult knowing how to interact with my preschooler when he’s “acting out.” He can physically overpower me, so it’s a struggle on the rare occasion he does have a meltdown, especially in public. I’m not able to scoop him up and carry him to the car to cool down. I have to really work on getting him to listen because he wants to. It’s not always possible.
eNannySource: Have people been concerned about your parenting abilities? How do you handle it?
Sarah: Sure, people have expressed concern. We only ever see people using their hands to care for children. The thought that I can do just as good a job with my feet is a little difficult for some to wrap their minds around, and I don’t blame them. Sometimes it bothers me. I mean, it’s nobody’s business how I care for my children, as long as they’re safe. But I try to remember that as humans, as community creatures, it’s in our nature to care for one another, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes the most loving thing I can do is swallow my pride and let someone help me, just to ease their anxiety. It feels good to help, so I try to allow people to do that (sometimes!).
eNannySource: What’s your best advice for other women with disabilities who want to have children?
Sarah: You are the expert of your abilities. The only one who knows whether you can care for a child is you. Don’t let others tell you what you can and can’t do. At the same time, be honest with yourself. There are certainly things you can’t do without help. That’s true for everyone. But for a person with a physical disability, it’s very important to be aware of those things when a child is in your care.
eNannySource: Tell us about your book.
Sarah: In Capable Arms is a part memoir, part confession. It took me a long time to be able to talk about my life with a disability, to discuss my struggles and even share the little triumphs I experience along the way. This book is sort of the big reveal of the life I’ve carefully hidden away for the past 30 years. It chronicles my journey through depression and suicidal thoughts to self-acceptance and even beyond that, into a life of fulfillment despite living in an imperfect body and an imperfect world. Readers can answer journaling prompts and travel with me as they are invited to explore their own past and become inspired about their future.
Sarah Kovac is a wife, mother, speaker and author of the book In Capable Arms. You can find out more about Sarah at www.SarahKovac.com. Her book is available on her site, at bookstores and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Michelle LaRowe Conover is a national speaker, bringing a message of hope and empowerment to mom and nanny groups across the nation. She and her husband Jeff reside on Cape Cod with their daughter, Abigail, and son, Luke.
Photo: Courtesy of eNannySource