When Maryann, our third (Real) Real Housewife of Salt Lake, found out her first child was a boy she and her husband Matt, a South Jordan Police Lieutenant, chose the name Max and began to dream about everything he would do and become.
Then at 30 weeks pregnant there was an accident, followed by a medical misdiagnosis, and as result Max was born 10 weeks early and later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Parenthood has a steep learning curve for any new mother, but for Maryann there has been the added dimension of learning to accommodate her son's disabilities, as well as the financial strain of keeping up with compounding medical bills, surgeries, and equipment needs.
But if you're tempted to feel sorry for Maryann, let me stop you right there.
Max suffers impaired motor function and limited cognitive abilities, but has the confidence of an Olympic athlete and optimism of a daily lottery winner. Once, when asked by Santa Clause what he wanted for Christmas, he responded from the confinement of his wheelchair that he would like a pogo stick. On another occasion, he saw a boy at the park riding a ripstick and begged for a turn. Maryann hoisted him onto it for a brief moment and then as she sat him back down heard him say, "Well, I'm pretty much an expert now."
Between working two jobs as a dental hygienist and the demands of caring for her two other children, Maryann always makes it a priority to give Max a fulfilling and joyful life - Arranging for him to play wheelchair baseball or give pep talks to his high school football team. Phone calls from his favorite Disney characters. The chance to serve as a student body officer, meet his college football heroes, and a surprise visit at home by a player for his favorite team, the LA Kings.
When quarantine hit and Max wasn't able to get the social interaction he craves, Maryann set up an Instagram account for him, where he posted daily videos of himself delivering motivational speeches and performing random acts of kindness (do yourself a favor and visit @maxbrown070).
When you have a child with cerebral palsy, simple tasks we take for granted can become overwhelming obstacles, but Maryann is upbeat and uncomplaining - Not because life has been easy, but because of a conscious decision she made when Max was young.
For years after he was born, she fought legal battles over the medical errors that led to his condition. One day, a nurse told her that in her opinion, what had happened to Max "can only be classified as a fluke."
Maryann says that in that moment, the only thing she knew for sure was that her son was not a fluke. No child is a fluke. She knew that Max was exactly who he was supposed to be, and that even with all of his challenges she wouldn't trade him for anything. Then and there, she decided to transfer all the energy she had exerted seeking justice for him into accepting and loving him exactly the way he is.
The result has been a life that is sometimes difficult but always punctuated with moments of overwhelming joy, achievement and love.
This is how we do it here.
Would you like to nominate an inspiring Utah woman for (Real) Real Housewives of Salt Lake City?
Please message me on Facebook!