She’s the youngest of our six children, but sometimes I feel like I’m a new mom when it comes to parenting her well.
Last month I wrote about her surgery and the hopes around related outcomes: less muscle tightness, the potential for independent mobility, and possible improvements in speech and fine motor skills. I wrote about being brave, as I sent my 21-pound preschooler to the OR. I wrote about going with God, even into the scary places of parenting.
But the more I reflect upon that post, the more I think our day to day parenting decisions require more bravery than any surgical steps.
Last week one of Zoe’s physical therapists and I had a now common conversation, the familiar discussion of how much to push her to develop more skills versus how much to support her in the skills she has (which, to be honest, are few). I’m not sure I have good answers to those sort of questions. Just as I was anxious about sending my tiny spitfire into surgery, I find myself questioning if I’m doing enough or not, if I’m focusing on the right skills or not, if I’m letting one child’s needs crowd out the needs of our other children or not… and that’s a far scarier place to be than the hospital.
I know our schedule right now is working for us with stretching exercises twice a day and seven therapist appointments a week. We’re clearly not slacking off on that front. But once we add in naps and carpool rides for her older siblings and grocery shopping and dinner prep and so on, typical preschool play gets left as a good intention far more often than I’d like. And as much as I’d love for her to have more independence, I want her to be a kid too.
Plus if she never develops those skills we’re hoping for – if she never sits on her own, if she never walks, if a wheelchair is the vehicle for mobility for her for years to come – I don’t want her or anyone else to be disappointed in that. We don’t know what her full potential will be, but I do know that we want her to feel loved just as she is now. Our love for her isn’t conditional on her future abilities, and I wonder some days if pushing hard toward certain ability driven goals communicates something different.
Balance, where art thou?
Usually I end these posts with a verse or quip that wraps the struggle up in a tidy bow, but today can I ask you to do that for me? Zoe is only 3, so most of you are either at the same stage in special needs parenting if not a little or a lot further into the journey. I’d love to glean from the wisdom God’s provided for you over the years, if you’re willing to share.
How do you find balance in striving for future hopes and accepting current realities when it comes to parenting your child with special needs?
Thank you in advance for your input here for me as a (not so) new mom when it comes to this struggle.