Thursday, October 2, 2014

What do you mean a walker?

I went to bed after publishing my first post in this 31 Day Writing challenge last night. I have to tell you that I tossed and turned contemplating that I had put my rawest feelings, my inner struggles, the struggles that I previously had shared safely with ONE other person, my dearest friend since college. And now, I had just typed it up and put it out here for all to read. I was a bit restless in sleep. I contemplated taking the post down. I was that torn.

But this morning a sweet younger cousin who recently had twins shared how much it encouraged her heart to read my very real post....and I took a deep deep breath and knew I would do it again. I would share more of my most vulnerable self in the hopes that one other Mama's heart is encouraged. So I'm  typing and I'm hoping you are filled with grace as you read how scared I was as we entered an area of life that I was completely unprepared for -- I'm buckling my seat belt even as I type:

January 18, 1999 -- "[Physical] Therapy was OK today. The boys did great but Mason's therapist brought up the idea that we might want to look into a walker for him. She used one in therapy today and the cutie pie was so proud of himself walking down the hall! She thinks it would only be temporary but her theory is the sooner we get him walking the better and she thinks this would help.

I guess I had hoped we would do it without that. Do you know what they look like? I'll tell an old person's walker only backwards. Where an elderly person leans forward on his, the toddler version is open in the front so the child doesn't lean (makes him work harder) and it has wheels. He would still be doing the work, it would just help him until he has his balance. I am grateful to God that he can even do this, I really am....But I had a bit of an overwhelming day with the suggestion."

Tears are coursing down my cheeks as I read this particular email. The emotions are almost as close to the surface today as they were almost 16 years ago. I had never seen a little toddler walker. Never. I had all manner of negative images associated with walkers and I just knew this was a terrible thing to do to my child.

But by this post, I was already having a change-of-heart:

January 22, 1999 -- "Thanks for the words of wisdom about Mason. Bless his little heart. He walked around the room five times today pushing his walker toy (the one Wade's Dad gave him for Christmas). I usually have to move it and then he steps to catch up but not today! He pushed it and walked without me even near him!! And oh was he proud! I really think he is ready for the walker (the therapeutic one) and he will be off and running. I feel much better able to handle it. And I trust that God is in control...and I know he will give us all the grace to handle tomorrow!"

Carol and Carol and our crew (then, we've added a couple cute girls today!). My sweet friend for almost 30 years. She knows my heart so well she saved my emails and mailed them back to me when she thought I needed them most.

Four days after the initial discussion of a walker, I did not have a sudden burst of knowledge about Cerebral Palsy and developing independent walkers. I was running on balancing a grieving Mama-heart -- one that loved her children with every fiber of her being but was scared to death of what the future would hold -- and a heart tuned in to her children's successes and failures. In the four days between the two emails, I had seen the joy success gave my child. I didn't need a PhD in child development to know moving on to a walker was the right choice.

By the time the triplets were three, Mason could fly with his walker. The wheels barely touched the ground when he took off. I did not know the next step -- would he let go altogether and walk independently as his therapist had always assured me? I was once again unprepared when the therapist suggested Mason try cuff-crutches to ambulate. My heart held on to the hope that he would walk out of the walker for good. She was suggesting otherwise.

But this time, this time, dear ones, I had the gift of experience. I knew that even something called a "crutch" would not hinder Mason but would rather open his world. We opted to try.

It was hard. It was a challenge, I mean, he could FLY with his walker and negotiating the balance that using the crutches -- we called them power sticks -- required slowed him way way down. Not a happy thing for a three-year-old. He stubbornly refused. He refused right up until the moment his brother got a walker. Well, if Benjamin was going to also use a walker, Mason better start using something else. Oh for the love of brotherly competition!

Today, more than 14 years after he first used power sticks, my Mason still needs them for ambulation. He can get around the house with out them. He can perform on stage without them. But his balance is not such that he can walk safely without the use of these aides.

Young Mama that wrote the emails of 1999 would have been terrified to know that. She would have worried and fretted because she was counting "walking with independence" as a big huge deal that must be achieved at all costs.

Young Mama didn't know that in spite of needing crutches, Mason would place nationally in archery.

Young Mama didn't know that he would be a charming, witty, book-lover who she would thoroughly enjoy having conversations with!

Young Mama didn't know so very much of the wonderful things that would make Mason...well, Mason.

I was counting the things he wouldn't be able to do if using crutches. I was paralyzed in the fear of the "can't do" rather than embracing the myriad of things this amazing young man can  do. I was not counting what really counts.

But today, today, I chuckle when he drops to his knees and uses his crutch as a microphone. Or a sword. Or whatever the current theatrical role requires.

I count what counts. I count it all joy to be the Mama to this boy, power sticks and all.

Carol - The Blessings Counter


Krissy H said...

Carol, thank you for posting this... I'm still in these early stages with my little Aurora and my heart hurts a lot. I'm so proud of your children- and I only know them via your blog.. tears are just falling knowing you were at the point we are similarly at now- fear, worries, grief at 'what could have been' yet loving the child(ren) who are so perfect as God made them. This was beautiful and amazing. Thank you.