My own thoughts typically center around the emotional components of raising Amos. There is so much there to ponder and reflect, that I rarely move from that culmination of thinking. Financial aspects weigh heavy too as well as the time juggling ten weekly therapy appointments, sending documents, seeking approval, all parts of the business side of having a child with special needs. Lately though I am reminded of the physical hardship that accompanies children with special needs and the their victims, the parents. Recently though I have begun to notice that the mornings begin with a sharp pain in my right hip, a constantly sore right wrist, shoulders so tight I remain clenched unless I actively try to relax them. Yes, carrying, wrestling, snuggling, holding, lifting, restraining, and even partial dragging has taken a tole on this mama's forty year old physical self. Two and half a years of Amos toting had done its' damage.
I remind myself when I utter these complaints aloud, on paper, or in the crevices of my own mind, I have so much to be thankful for because Amos can actually walk. That fact has made my life easier in terms of the activities we can do, places we can access and most important lately, the taxing physical hardship on my body. I am trying to be thankful for the experience of wrestling a wriggling two and a half year old who can walk though truthfully the walking is used for his own personal entertainment, not in a developmentally appropriate way of getting from place to place, at least in a way you should be able to count on with a typical independent two and a half year old. My first three children were adamant not to be carried and "Down!" was a phrase drilled in my own mind and even made me a bit sad. Funny how your perspective can change in a few short years.
My first three children were fairly close together, aged three and under and I don't remember feeling sore like I do now and though my own age may be a contributor, I know that at the end of the day it is Amos. Yes, he did not walk until he was 22 months and though my others were late walkers (18, 14, and 16 months respectively), those extra months seemed endless. Walking was such a goal that we opted to use our thirty physical and occupational therapy visits all for physical therapy. The much needed occupational therapy would have to wait and now we are in the throes of that, later than necessary and yet, we still need physical therapy. His forehead can attest to that, various shades of green and yellow for the little feet that fall over nothing and the arms that forget to catch himself, hence the rainbow colored forehead.
I still must carry him way more than I would like. Not in the way I did before he could walk, responsible for moving him every few minutes, a baby bored with their circumstances and you alone left to ensure their end of boredom. I remember thinking my five month olds were so tough for this very reason, desperate for them to sit up and then crawl, exploring a needed and viable option for curious babies. Amos didn't sit up until he was eleven months old though he was fairly content that summer before to sit in his bouncy seat on the beach, with me in a nearby tidal pool, or supported in the swimming pool where he would chortle and kick his frog like legs. The crawling happened at thirteen months on Christmas Day and he moved slowly, coordinating arms and legs to reach a toy train, still a favorite.
I try to build up his endurance for distance with afternoon and evening walks around our small community's streets and better yet, sidewalks which after a lot of work, he has begrudgingly agreed to follow the narrow concrete paths. We walk to the bank, the drug store and church, and he has gotten quite good at stopping and waiting for stop lights and even can be cajoled to hold my hand sometimes as we cross the street. When he tires, he sits down and so, I am forced to haul his often squirming, back arched self to our destination or back home. I have learned to push an empty stroller on these walks as I remember what happened a few weeks ago. On a long walk, my right arm was numb and screaming to be released. My ten year old son was exhausted too after taking turns with me, both of us alternating carrying the toddler back several blocks to our downtown home. I know that my struggles don't even touch the ones of other families, some of whom I know intimately.
To those families, I marvel at your ability to carry school age children and never murmur one utterance of complaint, just an accepted part of the daily routine. I acknowledge my surface difficulty for your real pain. I know if my own body is telling me that it is overloaded then yours must tell you that it can't last much longer but it can because you make it. Know that you have a friend that sees your struggle and that she tries to emulate you, though not very well. I speak up for you, my own twenty five pound two and a half year old not even a close second yet he has provided the empathy that I am glad to offer. You remind me to grin and bear it sometimes and other times to speak the real truth that is uncomfortable for myself and others. Like all truth though, perhaps it makes us better people, a bit more cognizant of those we see from afar or so very close.