Friday, February 10, 2017

The other side of the coin.

Before Christmas I wrote a post about Benjamin's personal goals (feel free to click over and check it out), as I desperately needed to encourage young mamas whose son or daughter might not be reaching some milestones. I was desperate to remind them of the dreams still tangible -- still attainable, still in front of them!

I feel strongly about the subject. I said once or twice in the post -- and possibly a billion times in life  --  that my boys are worth far more than the sum total of their gross motor skills. Far far more.

But in all fairness, two sides of the desire-to-walk-with-Cerebral-Palsy-coin live in my house. And I would be negligent if I didn't tell you the other side.

Mason is my second born. A minute and a half after Benjamin, and a couple minutes before Claire, came the tiniest of our three. He weighed in at barely 2 pounds and required the most attention right off the bat. We had named him Mason after my amazing Daddy and I was petrified that Daddy would hold him in heaven before I got a chance to because his nurses wouldn't let us "disturb" him.

Thankfully, that all changed three days after the triplets' birth when Nurse Trish arrived back at work from a conference. She called me over to his little isolette and explained something called "kangaroo care" that she had been studying. Apparently studies showed that the smallest babies had been proven to thrive when placed in their diaper only inside the Mother's shirt, up against her chest -- skin-to-skin. Nurse Trish was willing to help Mason try it, if I was. I could not agree fast enough. This tiny little bitty baby who had struggled for three days to get enough oxygen and to regulate his body temperature, took a deep breath and began taking big breaths. His numbers were perfect the minute I buttoned my top. Perfect.

And with that discovery, this tiniest little peanut began to fight like mad. And 19 plus years later he is still fighting.

Benjamin, Mason in the middle, and Claire

Mason would distinguish himself as the triplet that needed to be fed first. The other two were patient waiters (Claire often had to be forced to eat.) but Mason demanded what he wanted when he wanted it. And with that same tenacity he would watch Claire. She would move to the toy she wanted and obviously that very much appealed to my tiniest peanut. He would work and pull and stretch. And he would repeat this process until he figured out how to commando crawl.

Mason was 15 months old before he was able to get up on all fours and crawl but he did it. And when the physical therapist brought out the little bitty reverse walker at 20 months old, he was ready to try. Well, I should clarify that -- he could crawl really really fast by that point. He wasn't completely interested in the walker, unless there were people clapping for him when he used it. Our therapist, dear Miss Lou Ann learned very quickly to take him to the hospital hallways where people were bound to see this cutie-patootie and cheer! it worked like a charm.

Physical Therapist Miss Lou Ann and Mason in the hospital corridor looking for his cheering section -- and his biggest cheerleader, Claire.

My point is this -- Mason wanted to move. Benjamin was talking in paragraphs -- he was advanced with his speech and he recognized it has his own strength. But Mason was using all his energy to move. He was driven. And though he DID talk, his energy was far more focused on his movements.

While Benjamin watched his sister moving, walking, jumping, climbing with an almost why-bother mentality, Mason would watch her hungrily. He worked to emulate her actions. He wanted to run and jump like she did.  When she climbed the ladder to our fort (a play structure that came with our first home purchase), he tried also. He worked his little legs, he pulled, he stretched and then he sat back and just stared at the structure so long that I almost swooped in to distract him.

But then, this 3-year-old did an extraordinary thing -- he climbed up the slide to get to the fort.

Mason was determined. Mason was driven. And Mason was a kid who set goals and went after them. Even if it meant taking a less-conventional route.

Today, Mason walks with cuff crutches -- we call them Power Sticks (because what three year old wants CRUTCHES....but when you love the Power Rangers....and your Mom convinces you that these sticks will give you the power to walk....well, the name stuck!).

He is a sophomore at Millsaps College -- a small liberal arts school known for its academic rigor. He of course has made all As and one lone B in his three semesters there so far. He is a student body senator. A resident assistant in his dorm. And joined a fraternity.

Because Mason is worth far more than the sum total of his gross motor skills.

And so even though these two boys were born a minute and a half apart and raised exactly the same way -- they placed different expectations on themselves. They set different goals.

But please hear me loud and clear -- Benjamin's contentment in rolling through life was not a matter of goal-setting. No. His physical limitations are considerable. I have always been so grateful for his personality and spirit of acceptance. He is a force to be reckoned with and has huge goals and dreams -- he just recognized early that walking did not need to be part of that. And when I caught his vision, I was better able to knock down barriers to help him reach HIS goals.

Mason is also committed to making the world -- and his corner of it -- a better place. But his physical limitations were less and he recognized that he wanted to move. So he did. So he does.

I could not be more proud. I fairly beam with pride in both my boys and both of amazing girls! And really, the take away is the same for them: my job as Mom is not to help the kids reach my goals. My job is to help knock down the walls that get in the way of them doing the work to meet their own goals.

Believe me, my sledgehammer is well-worn and I keep it handy.

Carol - The Blessings Counter