What are some tips for enjoying parenting despite you have a disability?

Interviewer Yuki
Tsutsu, who has congenital upper limb defect, is born without both arms. Currently, while working as a DTP designer, he also enjoy raising children as a father of two children. While feeling the difficulty of not being able to do the power work such as not being able to hold his children for a long time, that is often required of men, I work together as a husband and wife to raise children. We asked him about what he would like to be as a father and raise children by making use of his skills in making things he is good at. (Interviewed on October 10, 2020)

– 【Yuki】Nice to meet you. It’s pleasure to meet you. First of all, Could you tell me about your disability?

-【Tsutsu】By naturally, the right arm is a little shorter than the elbow, and the left arm is not from the shoulder.

– You are currently working as a DTP designer, but what kind of design are you mainly doing?

– It’s mainly printed. I work for a special subsidiary, and I’m in the Design and Printing Division there. We mainly design and create data on paper media in general, such as creating pamphlets and campaign flyers.

– Did you learn design skills when you were a student?

– That’s right. I wasn’t good at drawing originally, but I’ve liked it since I was in elementary school. I wrote in my junior high school graduation book that my dream for the future was to be a designer.

– That’s great! Your dream has come true!

– That’s why I can’t sin the blues. To be precise, when I was a child, I wanted to do industrial designs such as cars, home appliances, and furniture.

– The design of the car is a flower shape, isn’t it? It’s also very popular.

– That’s right. But basically, I have to work by my foot by sitting down, so there are restrictions for the work I can do. Then, by all means There are few options for employment. Twenty years ago, there was a time when I was ridiculed as a nerd when I used a computer, but at that time I sometimes used a computer in school classes, and I noticed that I enjoy drawing with a computer. From there, I began to learn the art of drawing with a personal computer in earnest, hopeing that this would be my job.

– How long have you been learning design?

– I was lucky about that too. There was a high school with a public design section in the range where it was possible to go by bicycle from the house.I went there and learned basic knowledge such as drawing and color.

– It’s wonderful to work on what you’ve learned since you were a student.

– There are gaps between ideal and reality.

– maybe there are lots of hardship, but I envy you.

– That’s right. Thanks to you, I’ve never felt to not want to go the office.

(Abilynpics held in France)

– 【Yuki】Is there any ideas to work more comfortable for you?

– 【Tsutsu】Since I was in elementary school, I’ve always been praised when I draw pictures, but I didn’t want to be praised for being good at drawing with my feet. I felt that I was not seen equally with other classmate. Even if I was told that you were good at drawing the picture, I always felt that I was told “considering that you painted by your foot”. I wanted to get rid of it somehow. That’s why I want people to see only my works without my disability.

So, I have been felt conflict after started to work for a special subsidiary at first. Because working at a special subsidiary is like saying that a person with a disability is working.However, when I change my thinking, I think that special subsidiary proves, “Even if people with disability, we can do it!” Therefore, I try to accommodate the customer’s request exactly.

– You like making things, and you often repair cars and bicycles yourself, right?

– That’s right. I want to try what I like and what I’m interested in, I feel like I can do it. I can do the attaching of the drive recorder and ETC, and the tire change by myself!

– 【Yuki】When you want to repair your bike, first think about how it will be easier for you to ride. And do you ask a contractor to repair it or do you repair it yourself?

– 【Tsutsu】That’s right now. The first time I was able to ride a bicycle, my father thought about how to ride safely. Now that I found out that my father liked to make things, too.

– You are influenced by your father who likes to make things for you.

– 【Yuki】You has two children now, how do you spend most of your holidays with your family?

-【Tsutsu】It’s hard to go out with a coronavirus now, but originally I like to drive a car, so we all got in the car and went on a trip. It’s like a day trip or going to a park a little far away.

-Do you think it’s hard when you play in the park or outside with your child?

– Not now. However, when my child was still young, sometimesI was asked to hug me from my child on the go. In my case, It’s difficult to hold a child for a long time without baby carrier, In such a case, it will inevitably put a burden on my wife. So my wife hurt her back, and at that time I was filled with an insealed, frustrating feeling. After all, because the power work is often a role of the man, a strange pride made me feel frustrate

-But maybe your child grows up and they can do more by themselves now,
so I think there are not so much that you can’t do something for your child.
But I think that you just playing with them increases the amount you teach your child.

– No, it’s rather the opposite now. My oldest daughter is in the third grade of elementary school, but I’m getting more and more help. For example, even in the scene of taking out the smartphone from the bag while going out, until now I was sitting and putting it out with my feet, but now if I ask her put it out, she will put it out for me. Sometimes she complains a little bit. For better or worse, we are a family.

-It’s a common sight between a father and a daughter., but you are a good family.

– Yes, it is.My child is still fond of me, so I’m saved now.

“Do you know why I don’t have arms?” 

-【Yuki】Have you explained your disability to your child?

-【Tsutsu】 I asked the child again recently. “do you know why I don’t have arms?” When I asked them, my daughter said, “your arms were eaten by an ogre”, but She knows the reason properly.She said “When you were in your mother’s stomach, something happened and your hands didn’t grow up or that were cut. ” 

I’m participating in the Society of Parents with Congenital Limb Disorders (hereafter, the Parents’ Association). Fathers and mothers with senior disabilities in the association ask me “When you pick up and drop off your children at the nursery school, other kids are curious about your disability. How do you explain about yore disability to your children’s friends?” Then, “if you explain the truth seriously, the child will understand. ” .So I explained, “When I’m in my mother’s stomach, my arms…” to other children. Perhaps she learned it when she heard it. So I don’t remember lying and explaining it to my children.

Also, when I told the nursery school children who kept listening to me no matter how many times I explained it, I said, “If I hadn’t listened to my father or mother at all, I would have eaten my arm by an ogre,” and my daughter from the side said, “No.You have not had your arms since you were born, right?”

– Did your daughter explain it instead of you?

– That’s right. And the other child came and said, “Well, you don’t have hands?” When she talked to me, my daughter said, “Yes, my dad doesn’t have hands!” He would just roll up my sleeve and explain it to them. My daughter helped me.

– That’s great.

– We try not to think too seriously about anything. My family are open mind. On the contrary, there is a bad side, too. I have a lot of acquaintance in wheelchairs, my daughter also knows them well. So when she sees those people in wheelchairs in the streets, she says, “He’s in a wheelchair, too,” and points at them. That’s usually not much to say, is it? She probably wants to appeal about that she know it well. Not everyone is open to disability, and some people don’t say about their disability to others. However, since I am not a person who hides my disability,  my  children are open-minded to people with disability.

-I think it’s a good way to get some information about parenting in advance at those society. but now I think that there are not many young people who participate in such association. I think it’s because they are old enough to enjoy school life and get busy with work.

-As you say, there are few younger members now. The parents’ association was a meeting with a history of more than 40 years, it was a big meeting that about 1000 families joined in the whole country few years ago. However, it seems to have decreased to about 70% at that time now. However, it is not a bad thing that the number of members decreases, and more to say, we are aiming for a world where we can live without difficulty even without such an association. I think one of the factors of the decline is the development of the Internet environment. If it’s easy, you can get information on SNS or something like that, so you don’t need a connection to actually meet. So when some people were little, they joined the association to get information when they were worried about  that they can’t hold a skipping rope string at school or not be able to having a recorder. But when they are in junior high school student and high school student, most of the children left there. However, I think it is important not only to share information, but also to have an exchange where they can actually meet and talk and feel at ease.Some child tells me about the trouble which cannot be said to parents from a little topic of daily life if it remains until high school student.

-If you remain until high school students, are there many people who remain in the association after that?

– Yes. In there, if they wish, they will become a volunteer from junior high school students, and they will play with children with disabilities while you have disabilities. When they find out that they are needed by someone, they realize that it is their place. I think they will stay in the meeting.

– That’s great. Some kids with disability can ask their senior anything.

-I don’t think there are not so many children who talk to senior about their worried of disability. But they can feel it with their skin by meeting and playing in person. If you know that there are friends around you, you can rest assured.

-I think that there are not so much situation to meet or play with friends with disabilities, so this mechanism is very good. And when they grow up and become a parent, they can exchange information about child rearing this time. I felt that the role of these associate was really big.

If you keep doing what you can , you will be able to play a role little by little.

-【Yuki】Is there any ideas to rise your children more comfortable for you?

-【Tsutsu】Now, I don’t use useful goods or any special idea in raising children. But I think It is important to play your part and ask your wife what you cannot do.

-Do you assign a role between you and your wife about housework and child-rearing?

-Yes, for example, I like cleaning in my house, so my role is to go around the water, such as a bath or toilet, and a vacuum cleaner is my job. On the other hand, cooking and washing  clothes are role of my wife. That is an unspoken agreement. In fact, I used to live by myself, so I can laundry and cook simple dishes by myself. So our role of housework is not related with my disability. 

Some people with not disability don’t do housework, child-rearing, or anything. But it still consists of a family. That’s one of the values, isn’t it?

– I often hear that women with disabilities feel a little sorry for not being able to do housework better than their husbands. Even now, I think it is also influenced by the underlying awareness that women has to housework.

– Well, it’s also a normal family. If there are people who don’t like cooking or not good at cleaning, people who are good at should do it. Recently, I think that everyone lives by helping each other regardless whether they have disabilities or not.

– The person who is good at it, and the person who can do it do it. Even among people with not disability, the number of households where the wife is busy with work and the husband mainly does housework is increasing.

– You don’t  expect too much from yourself, and if you work hard to meet much expectation from people around you, you’ll just have to suffer. But I think that if you work hard at what you can do, you will be able to play a role little by little.

-I met a woman who enjoys raising her children even though she needs to seek care every day.It’s not just about physically doing something to your child. Give more love to your child is the best way to raise children.

– I fully understand what you say now. I think it’s very important not only to earn money and work hard, but also to spend as much time with my children and family as possible. I don’t have anything to do for my children, but I think it’s enough just to spend time together and play. It’s

not like we can’t play together because we have disabilities. Even if you don’t go to the park and do anything because of your disability, you just have to sit on the bench and watch over you. Children often say, “Dad and mom, look at me!” That’s why you don’t have to run around with them just by looking at them.Children will be happy that their parents will sympathize with what they have done.

-【Yuki】Before your child was born, if you hit such a wall, did you try to get over it like this, or did your husband and wife discuss it?

-【Tsutsu】We don’t have one. Maybe couples talk about whether hereditary or not before you give birth to a child. I’ve never been asked by my wife. I also knew that I wasn’t hereditary. But it’s not 100%, is it?Any couple can have a child with a disability. That’s why there was no talk at all. I think we were worried about each other, but my wife has a manly personality. That’s why we don’t talk about that very much.

– Did you try to talk to your wife about future parenting in advance?

-It’s not in advance. However as I mentioned earlier, I told her that I worry about my daughter to be bullied at nursery school because of my disability. But even if I talk like that, my wife said, “Well, that’ll be not.” 

– Your wife is reliable! I thought that many couples with disabilities were definitely talk about parenting before the child was born. However, it is different by the relationship between there.

-I think that there are a lot of married couples who got married doesn’t  discussed it. there are many couples get married without knowing why you don’t have arms.  I often hear that they didn’t talk about disability because that is no problem for them. If one of them has a problem with a disability, they wouldn’t want to live together.

If there are people around you who are worried about raising children, do you have any advice?

It might be a good idea to meet a lot of people and talk about various things.

– Of course, there is a possibility that you can find answers not only with parents with disabilities, but also in conversations with parents with not disabilities isn’t it?

– That’s right.

– What do you want to be a father?

– If I asked “Who can I respect?, My answer is “My father.” That’s why I want do for my child what my father have done for me. My father speaks a lot now, but in the past he used to be a person who showed me how to act rather than speak in words. For example, he is skillful with his fingers and he likes making things. So when something was broken, my father fixed everything. That’s why I want to be a father who can answer when my children are in trouble or when they are relied on. Parents have little to give to their children. That’s why I think it‘s an opportunity when my children are relied on. I want to be reliable forever.

-【Yuki】Do you have any ideals for the next five or ten years?

-【Tsutsu】I haven’t thought about my future recently, and now my children grows up well and I want to spend time together for as long as possible. In fact, it would be ideal if I could benefit people with disability, but I want to give priority to my family first.

– I think there are a lot of young people with disabilities who are worried about whether they will be able to have children and raise them. Could you give them some message?

– We enjoyed the time of two couples for two years after we got married, and then we were lucky enough to get children when we wanted to have them, so, I can only say that children are wonderful. But the time when I didn’t have children, I also had a great time. No matter which you have children or not, no matter what people say to you, I think it’s important to spend your life most importantly. No matter what choice you make, if you enjoy yourself the most, you can get involved in the fun things as if you were pulling around. In the end it’s up to you.

-You don’t have to worry too much about raising children or having children, you have to enjoy what’s in front of you. It may be true for all those who are raising children, regardless people with disabilities.

– That’s right. It’s fun for me just to take a bath with my child. If I don’t have children, I enjoy having a tea with my wife at cafe.

There are people who often say, “There is not even one good things “, and  those people are looking for big happiness too much. But if you think positively about everything and live your life, I think there will be a lot of happiness.

– You know, such as drink good smell coffee.

– That’s right. I don’t like summer, so I’m so happy that it’s already over around October. It’s very important to find the little happiness in front of you every day, and I think it’s going to be bigger happiness when you keep picking it up. First of all, you find the little happiness in your life and enjoy every day. No matter what the situation, I think it’s important.

-【Yuki】After the interview.

I think there are many people who are worried about raising children in the future. I think those people are encouraged by his word that is “If you work hardly what you can do, you will be able to play a role little by little.” You don’t have to apply yourself to the common images of fathers and mothers that remain in the world. You just have to find each role for each family. He taught me how to be a family beyond the presence or absence of disabilities.Thank you very much, Tsutsu.

error: Content is protected !!