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Diapering with Her Feet

Innovative parenting wisdom from the wise, young Sarah Kovac

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A few weeks ago I was puzzling aloud about a parenting conundrum, when my 14-year-old chimed in: "Why don't you ask that lady without hands?"

She meant my new friend, Sarah Kovac. She'd heard me raving about some of Sarah's parenting strategies.

"Well," I explained, "she has hands. They just don't work well."

I had a hunch, though, my daughter was probably right.

AMC (more than a movie theater)

Born with Arthogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), a condition causing joints to be stiff and crooked at birth, 30-year-old Sarah has necessarily had to find creative strategies to parent her two children, Ethan, who is 4, and Taylor, who is 5 months. AMC can affect any of the body's joints—including the jaw and spine, as well as extremities—and very rarely are two people affected exactly the same way. In Sarah's case, her arms and hands have very limited use.

She does pretty amazing things with her feet, though. In fact, seeing videos online of Sarah driving and diapering with her feet is what made me want to know this amazing—and normal—mama.

After all, hauling kids to and from Walmart in the minivan, getting them buckled in and unbuckled out, is unwieldy enough for any parent. Yet Sarah does it with her feet.

After all, hauling kids to and from Walmart in the minivan, getting them buckled in and unbuckled out, is unwieldy enough for any parent. Yet Sarah does it with her feet.

"When I am driving, I try to not make it so obvious," Sarah explains, "because I feel like it might be a distraction to somebody else. If I am at a stoplight, I will put my foot down so it is not as noticeable."

Getting "help"

When a stranger sees Sarah caring for one of her kids out in public, as only she can, they sometimes try to jump in and help. From what I've gleaned of her kind disposition, I suspect that Sarah most likely responds very politely. So I ask whether she feels comfortable letting these potential "helpers" know it's not cool.

"Usually I just say something like, 'It's okay, I've got it,'" Sarah explains. "But usually they will push and keep asking."

Given some of the situations in which Sarah finds herself, it's hard to know which is worse: the asking or the not-asking. For example, Sarah buckles her babies into their car seats—in that back third row of minivan seats—by sitting on a seat in the middle row that's been folded down. One day, a fellow in the church parking lot felt free to poke his head into the van and watch what really wasn't meant to be a show.

Margot Starbuck

Margot Starbuck, award-winning writer and speaker, is a graduate of Westmont College and Princeton Theological Seminary. A TCW regular contributor and columnist, Margot speaks regularly on discipleship, justice, and living love in the world God loves. Connect with Margot on Facebook, Twitter, or at

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Diapering with Her Feet