Every May around Mother’s Day, I stop and reflect on the experience of motherhood. I think about my own journey over the past 14 years of being a mom – some years filled with bliss and some years filled with challenges. I feel grateful and humbled to celebrate being a mom. I am also lucky to have several moms in my life who act as role models, offering their true and helpful advice. One of these role models is the most inspiring mother I know. I have known her for over 25 years and her story reminds and inspires me every day to be my children’s advocate and champion.
On January 16, 2009, Robin Zike’s oldest son, Derek, a junior at Fishers High School, was playing in a hockey tournament at the Michigan USA National Rink. Derek had played hockey since he was six years old. It was a big day. A hockey scout from Yale was coming to watch him play. Derek’s dream growing up was to go to a great university and play Division I Hockey. That particular game, his team was down by two goals. As he took the ice to try and even the score, his blade hit a bad spot on the ice. He tripped and went head first into the boards – a freak accident. Derek was still conscious and knew immediately that he could not feel or move his body. It was three days before his 17th birthday.
Derek was hospitalized in Michigan for four months in order to be stabilized. He went to Michigan in the hope of coming back to Indianapolis as a possible Division I hockey player. Instead, he returned as a quadriplegic.
Throughout the experience, Robin never left her son’s side. Friends and family immediately put a plan in action to make their home handicap accessible for Derek’s return. What was once the family’s living room was transformed into a roll-in shower. The dining room became Derek’s wheelchair accessible bedroom.
As soon as they brought Derek home, Robin became his champion and advocate for not only his health, but just as important, his education. Derek would be the first member of their family to go to college. She pushed to get him back into school and acclimated as soon as possible. Derek graduated on time with Honors and a 3.7 GPA from Fishers High School and 12 college credits.
Although the dream of attending school on a hockey scholarship was over, Robin was determined to get Derek accepted into college and living on his own. Her perseverance paid off. Derek was accepted to Miami of Ohio and learned to live independently only 15 months after the accident that left him a quadriplegic. He will graduate this May, close to Mother’s Day, from Miami of Ohio with a degree in kinesiology (the study of human movement) and health with a concentration in sports studies. He plans to get his Master’s Degree and eventually his PhD.
I once asked Robin how she handled it all — working full time, raising three sons and having the strength to push Derek forward to pursue his education so soon after his accident. She answered, “I just keep putting feet to my faith. I keep moving forward and keep working until it becomes possible.”
This Mother’s Day, I am reminded of how lucky I am to know Robin. I have learned from her that children rise to the expectation we set for them. She has also taught me that anything is possible if you don’t give up and that we are often stronger than we think we are. And – that sometimes as a mom, you have to just put feet to your faith!
Mary Susan Buhner is a Life Coach for moms and author of “Mommy Magic: Tricks for Staying Sane in the Midst of Insanity.” Visit her Mommy Magic Fan Page on Facebook and her website at www.Mommy-Magic.com