Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finding Balance


Sometimes I find it difficult to achieve a balance between Caleb having Spina Bifida and Caleb just being Caleb.  Does that make sense?  I'll try to explain with a recent example.  I had thought about sending Caleb to a few different VBS programs in our area this summer, instead of just going to the VBS at our church.  But then I second guessed myself because I wasn't sure how to handle it.  Everyone knows Caleb at our church, I don't have to explain anything anymore.  They know him.  Other churches don't know Caleb.  So I wondered if I needed to call ahead to a church to say "Hey, I'm bringing my 5 year old to VBS at your church this week, but wanted to let you know that he has Spina Bifida and will be using his wheelchair."  Or could I just do what every other parent does and just drop him off with no explanation at all?  Do you see where I am going with this?  Is it necessary to "prepare" people in advance just because Caleb has Spina Bifida?

And this isn't just about VBS, I can think of other examples as well.  I try to find opportunities to get Caleb around other kids and people that have wheelchairs, braces, and walkers.  I jump at the chance to expose him to adaptive sports so he can see all the wonderful things that are possible.  But sometimes I worry that I don't take him to do all the things that other kids his age would do.  Does that make sense?  I love getting him together with his fellow SB buddies but I don't necessarily work to set up play dates with other kids.  Am I defining him?  Am I keeping him from doing things because I make decisions based on the whole SB thing?  How do I find the balance?  The best of both worlds?  I wonder if Caleb will find it difficult to achieve balance as he gets older, as a teenager and then as an adult.  I'm sure part of him will enjoy meeting with others that share the same experiences as he does, all the things that go with SB but I'm certain part of him will just want to fit in and not just be "Caleb with SB". 

I wonder if I do too much for him.  I do a lot for him (and Benjamin too), not because I don't think he can do it, but because I can do it faster.  And maybe this isn't a SB thing, maybe it is just a parent thing or a mom in a hurry thing.  I can get him dressed faster than he can do it so I just do it.  Well, he's about to be 6 years old and I'm certain I won't be getting Benjamin dressed when he is 6 so why in the world and I dressing Caleb?  This has been one of my goals this summer (along with tackling the playground).  We have been having Caleb get himself undressed at night before bath.  It is somewhat difficult for him and he was a bit resistant at first but he does it.  Getting pants/shorts off are the hardest for him to do but he does it.  Could I get him undressed faster?  Without a doubt.  But I'm not doing him any favors by doing these daily tasks for him.  I'm reminding myself that I am not raising little boys, I am raising men and future husbands.  Caleb is very capable, and I know that, but I'm am sometimes guilty of not giving him the opportunity to show me and himself how capable he is.  I admit fully that I jump in and help when I see him struggling with something.  It takes restraint on my part not to come to his rescue.  I see the pride he feels when he does something new on his own.  He loves it.  Mastering a task sends his confidence through the roof.  And I want him to be confident.  So, I am taking a breath, and deciding right now to give this boy, this future grown-up, more responsibility.  Not just with dressing/undressing, but with other things as well.  He often asks me to get him a drink so I do but ya know he is capable of walking to the fridge and filling his cup with water.  Sometimes the little things are just as important as the big things.   I feel a breeze of change blowing folks!

Does anyone else out there find achieving balance difficult?  Am I the only one?

And because no blog is complete without some pictures...
Caleb and Benjamin had some fun splashing in a puddle today.  Their socks and shoes (and Benjamin's shorts) were soaking wet by the time they were done.

I took these pictures of Benjamin a couple of weeks ago while Caleb was doing his horseback riding. 
He was fascinated with the wheelbarrows.  I love that little booger.

I even find achieving a balance with this blog to be difficult.  I worry that I focus too much on Caleb and Spina Bifida and not enough on Benjamin and how precious he is.  He is a lot of personality in a little bitty package.  I am so thankful for Benjamin.  Whenever I feel sad about the 2 pregnancy losses I had before Benjamin, I remember that if I hadn't lost those babies then I wouldn't have Benjamin.  And he just brings me so much joy.  I need to do an "all about Benjamin" blog post soon so I can share all of my favorite things about him.

10 comments:

Jen said...

I hear ya! the balance is so hard. I was thinking today too actually about what I'm doing FOR owen that he could do for himself. Started thinking back to what the other kids were doing for themselves at 4 and UHG! we have a lot of work to do. The winds of change are blowing through the potter house this summer too!

Heather Parker said...

I completely get what you are saying. I often struggle with how much to say and explain for both of my children. Both of my children visually look like they are typically developing, but clearly they are not. I am constantly having to advocate and defend them. SO, I try and prepare, but then I wonder is that fair to them??? Who knew parenting could be so complex. As they are both school age now (we held Annie back as well, which was sooooo hard), I have really been thinking about skills for independent living. It is so hard to have your babies grow up! You are an inspiring mother!

Jamie said...

Yup, I TOTALLY get what you are saying! We struggle with the same all the time!

Haley said...

Cassie, I have had some of the exact same thoughts lately with Eli. He is perfectly healthy but he has a bit of a speech delay. I have let him get away with more b/c I assume he doesn't understand. I also find myself trying to justify/explain away some of his behaviors to other parents in hopes of ME not looking bad. Ridiculous.
Thanks for your honesty. It's obviously something we all struggle with, no matter what our parenting situations.

krousehouse said...

I know I will be the same way - sometimes because I can do it faster, and sometimes because I won't want to see my son struggle. I will have to work hard, just like you, to give him independence and prepare him for his future. You are an incredible mom!

Ray, Star, and Tanner said...

I have been finding myself thinking along the same lines as you! Tanner is just 2.5, but will also needs to learn these life skills. Thanks so much for the reminder that they need to learn them too!

Colleen said...

Yup! Totally understand! But us just thinking about this stuff makes us good parents, right? :)

Jill said...

I'm already thinking about it! I know I am doing things for King that I wasn't doing for the girls and I wonder why I'm not pushing him more? But then I think - come on! Give the kid a break! Let him be a baby and do it in his own time. Then the circle begins again ;) We're moms. We like to overthink. It's part of the job. ;)

Heather Weir said...

I know what your saying. But it's for my 3 year old without SB that I feel some of of the same woes. I hope that reading all your posts and all the many other wonderful SB moms of kids just older Charlotte that I will learn the best approach for her. Its so hard to find balance with kids anyway let alone one that has a different package to work with. Hang in there and just work hard!

Gretchen said...

I totally hear you Cassie... and as a mom with an older SB child I say DO IT NOW... man if you wait too long they EXPEECT the help and what not and it is is SO MUCH harder to break them of!!! Great job of recognizing it now, and I say let that wind blow!

As far as VBS goes... I was totally blessed, Nat has an older sister who LOVES kids, and she would always volunteer at the VBS to help in general, then if anything came up with Nat she was right there on hand. Do you have any trusted pre teens or teens like that in Caleb's life? I makes for a very natural support sysytem in activities :)

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