“To tell a woman everything she cannot do, is to tell her everything she can.”

Today we are celebrating International Women’s Day! With everything that going on in the world at the moment, it’s important now more than ever, we all come together and celebrate this special day for Women around the globe. The theme this year is “Breaking the Bias”, which I think is so relatable for many Women. Imagine a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination – A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure to meet and get to know Emma, the mother of two-year-old Alexander who is a regular user of Richard House. Alexander was born with short gut syndrome, but Emma and her husband Paul knew from 20 weeks that something was wrong.

“Every time we went to hospital they played ‘guess what’s wrong with the baby?’. And then you have the baby, especially with a bowel issue, and you ask what’s going on and they say ‘oh you just have to wait, you have to be patient.”

Looking after Alexander is a full-time job for Emma, he needs at least 12 hours of sleep a day because his body takes so much energy to process any level of activity with no intestines. And I think this is what brings us back to “breaking the bias.” Disability is a very diverse topic that is discussed widely, but what I want to really talk about is being the parent of a child with a disability and the biasness that comes with that.

“You can’t tell just by looking at someone, what they are dealing with inside.” – Danielle Rupp.

Emma and Paul haven’t had a night out together in two years, as they are the only people who know how to care for Alexander’s complex needs. This has been mentally draining and exhausting for Emma as she never gets time for herself, plus the constant worry and anxiety of looking after a child with a disability. It's the societal expectation that comes with this too; you may appear completely fine on the surface but no one knows what Emma is going through looking after a child with a disability. This can really take an emotional toll, as it's a constant job where you have to be strong not only for you - but for your baby and family too. It took Emma a while to finally feel like “Emma” again, and not just Alexander’s Mum.

Alexander doesn't fit into society's expectation of what a disability "looks" like. Alexander looks like any other healthy, happy two-year-old. When I met Alexander he was quite the little dare devil! He loves being active and playing with other children. (see Alexander driving a car upside down (skills) below)

“The source of your greatest joy is also the source of your greatest pain.” – Emma

Emma has fears when Alexander is older he will start to question his disability and whether he is different to other kids his age. Emma shared with me, that Alexander will lift up other children's t-shirts to see if they have a tube attached too. And then look really confused and concerned when their tube isn't there. This really made me quite emotional, as we live in a world where society dictates what is normal. Children like Alexander may grow up and feel they are different because of this, which really is not the case.

So today is all about women like Emma who are breaking the bias everyday and doing a fantastic job!

Together let's #BreakTheBias!