Friday, July 31, 2009

How do they do it?

X  is sitting across me - we are waiting for a call from one of our suppliers
She is talking about how busy her evening today will be

"They are delivering a whole truckload of mulch today ... Y's ( her DH ) ankle is still in bad shape so guess who will be spreading the mulch ? me! ... And then I have to get the kids dinner and their school lunches packed for tomorrow?"

"Busy evening!!!" I sympathize. "I have nothing much tonite .. just play therapy for R ... I really need to get on top of things . Its so tempting to vegetate in front of the TV ?"

At the mention of my special needs world, X quickly blushes

( Its an interesting reaction I see, often from parents of normal kids - a sort of a survivor guilt )

" I dont know how you do it .. I really should not complain to you.. ... i just dont know how you do it"she says apologetically

I am thinking about what J is saying and wondering whether Autism has really made my life that much harder

Before R was born, I had little knowledge or interest in children.

As soon as I held R for the first time - everything changed

R is the only child we knew well and we learned how to parent him - from him.

Perhaps all parents do

When we were expecting him, one of the most fun things we did was to make a really cute nursery for him.

We used all the very whimsical "Humphrey's corner" design.

We read up on scheduleed feedings and scheduled sleep.

Discipline from the start is best, we would say.

This will not be a child-centered home, we said

But once we had him, we knew we would never be able to be strict with anything!

So the expensive crib remained untouched as we realised that the only time he slept peacefully and long was when he was touching us.

We will co-sleep for just the first few weeks we said.

Then we said, maybe just a few months more

Then we rationalized and said to ourselves
lets us wait a year ... just till he is a toddler then we shall tempt him with a cool toddler bed !!

So the nursery was never slept in ( and is now his therapy room.)

And R has stayed in one of our arms every night

Even this morning, 4 years later, as the alarm rang at 6, I lifted DH's hand and put it on R's back. Knowing that if he feels his Dad's hand he will sleep long and well

Not just while sleeping, but even during the day R always seemed happiest when he was physically touching us all the time

And so we kept him attached to us. pretending we were planning to be "attachment parents" all along.

I did houswork like a kangaroo with R in my Baby Bjorn Pouch

And I went for walks with him attached

R was always uncomfortable in crowded social situations.

My close friend's wife and I went into labor the same day and since our kiddos were the exact same age - we decided to have their first birthday together.

E was thrilled to be the center of attention but R was miserable.

As soon as he could, R toddled to a far corner and was only happy when he was alone with DH

I ended up opening all of R's presents and he showed no interest in them

In parties, through the years, we looked for calmer places

In picnics with friends- and we went on so many - he was much happier when he was able to get one on one time with one of us. Never alone but away from the crowd.

"I am starving - let me eat first - then I will take R and then you eat"

I would bargain with DH when we would go out for dinner

( Here I must mention that, R was never illmannered -Just uncomfortable and stimmy)

Right from the day he was born we have been parenting to R and his special needs ( in the way perhaps that all parents do - as dont all kids have special needs ? )

Interestingly , DH and I are quite exhausted by normal kids - we know nothing about how to parent them and are always wondering how these parents seem to answer incessant questions, interrupted conversations, shrewd negotiations so effortlessly -( perhaps all our kids are training us ?)

" There is nothing so special about what we do " I tell X

And its the truth.

For us there is only one child that we know how to be mum and dad to.

And that child is R.

That's how we do it


Anonymous said...

Good morning, nice post. I just came over to check out your site, thanks for the comment. Your son is so adorable. I really like yourp post, my son was a clinger when he was younger too!! I don't think I would know how to raise/take care of a "normal" child neither.
I like this quote...
I may not be the best parent but I am the best parent for my son.
Have a great weekend!

Territory Mom said...

K, this is beautiful. The pictures are amazing, your son is so beautiful. I know its a whole different world, I guess. It is all we know. I agree with Shawnda. I may not be the best parent but I am the best parent for my son. Love this post like all your others.

Becki said...

This is such a great post - yep, that's how we do it! I get ask that question too and it just is. We learned. We learned from our kids and we continue to learn. :)

danette said...

Beautiful and thoughtful post. I love the pictures! I feel the same way about our boys, they have been "training" us to be the best parents for them. I too had very little exposure w/ kids before I was a mother and I think in some ways it was a good thing - I had very few preconceived notions about what children were "supposed" to be like, which left me open to just enjoy and appreciate what *my* kids are like :).

btw, that is so funny about the co-sleeping / attachment, we did the same w/ all of our boys, not planned but just felt like the right thing to do. It has just been in the last month or two that Bitty no longer sleeps in our room. He doesn't sleep alone though, he cuddles up with Bearhug :). Sometimes in the morning he still jumps into our bed to cuddle though, and I love it :). Sometimes I miss the days of waking up to find all three boys in our bed (which was not that long ago) although it wasn't the most comfortable sleep, lol.

I get teased about still carrying Bitty so often b/c he's getting big, but he's my baby, and I'm going to keep carrying him until I just can't do it anymore. I did the same w/ our twins although it's harder to get one on one time with them.

As for ppl saying "I don't know how you do it" I never really know how to respond either... it's all just part of parenting.

robin said...

I just loved your pictures and story. It felt like wonderful story of how to be a parent through pictures. I just loved the pic of him on his daddy's arm as a newborn!!

Ingrid said...

This is a great post. Sometimes I find myself chagrining with that statement. "I don't know how you do it..."

"Well, I don't know how YOU do it either."

Sometimes it looks harder than it feels, I guess.

Mr. Daddy said...

loved the post K. especially the line, (perhaps all our kids are training us) LOL

Because of Rach's hearing Itty bit still inhabits our room, although the last few nights he has been asking to sleep in his room, in His big red bed...(cowboy theme)

I never thought I would hear myself admit it but I am gonna miss him in our room....

Rachel said...

First off... I adore the many pictures in here. Especially the sweetness and affection so evident when he is with you two.

And it is so true! While my child can be energetic and wear me out - I am EXHAUSTED with other people's kids... Truly each child has their own way of teaching their parents.

Such a beautiful way to describe your relationship.

Rachel said...

Whoa! I just read Mr. Daddy's comment and it is cracking me up!

Itty Bit has a large crib that has been in our room from Day One - and I am terrified to let him sleep in his "real" bedroom all the way at the opposite end of the house. There is NO way I could hear him there. And that would make for one very sleepless and tired mama!

I will confess that I've let him fall asleep twice in his "cowboy" bed, and have brought him back to our room for the night :)

Jocelyn said...

I get asked that too. I tell ppl I didn't know any different and it was my "normal". And having had my child w/ sn's first meant that I think I'm a better mom to my second.

The power you have with words it amazing. You take such ordinary things and occurences and turn them into something amazing. Or you find the amazing thing and "translate" it. I'm in awe of your writing.

Niksmom said...

You have hit it on the head exactly! I am in total agreement with you, too, about how "typical" parents do it! All we know is what we know...and we have to trust that it is enough.

Such lovely photos of your two guys together. So tender. So beautiful. :-)

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about co-sleeping. I have grown accustomed to C being in our bed and I like him being in there.

I loved seeing those baby pictures.

I laughed a little when you were talking about the kids who are always asking questions. I took c on a "peaceful" hike today and it was non-stop chatter and questions. I pleaded with him to be quiet for a little while and he said, "but...but... I just love to talk, mommy!" Yea, I can tell. *Sigh*

Anonymous said...

i'm not a 'typing through my tears' person but i am actually typing through my tears on this! so beautiful. poetic. mesmorizing. soothing. true. i relate to every word. xxxxxx

Les said...

Beautiful post as always K!!!
And these pics, wow! They are gorgeous!!

Kara said...

Love it, K. I will tell you quite truthfully our second is far more challenging than our first. He's the one that sends me over the edge daily. I will forever eat the words "well, another child SURELY could not be more difficult than our first with Down Syndrome." People ask me ALL the time if Wes keeps me busy and I say yes. But not as much as the typical one.

Anonymous said...

I love this!! How true. My friend and I were just talking about this and came to the conclusion that neither one of us has the easier or harder way- they're just different. (Her kids are NT). I love how you put it all into words- and you hit it right on the head about how we learned to parent from HIM! =)


Maddy said...

Yup, uncomfortable and stimmy sort of sums it up around here.

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