Tuesday, July 14, 2015

One thing this mom refuses to worry about

"I worry about him going down the stairs," our babysitter said as she watched Max making his way to our first floor the other day. Max goes slowly, taking it one step at a time. Doing it alone is a new skill for him. He first walked upstairs alone three years ago, but heading down takes more coordination and balance.

Could I worry about Max tumbling down the stairs? Oh, yes. Because it's very possible. Even on flat ground, he's been known to trip, and he's got the scrapes and bruises to prove it. But I can't always be there to stand guard when he goes down, and I refuse to get anxious about it.  Besides, Max wants to do it himself, and he is proud of it. 

In the mornings, Max comes in to kiss me good morning and then I hear the clomp, clomp, clomp of him moving down the stairs. I do feel a little rush of relief when he reaches the landing. In general, it's pretty amazing that he is self-sufficient in the a.m., able to entertain himself for a while (hello, iPad). 

There are just so many things I could worry about with Max and his safety, and if I chose to engage I'd be a walking ball of anxiety—not good for me or the kids. I could worry about him choking on food or aspirating liquid, because of his chewing and swallowing issues. I could worry that he will really injure himself if his bike tips over when he rides the inclined sides of the street, which he has done. I could worry that he will close a door on his fingers because of his coordination challenges, accidentally walk barefoot on our hot deck, fall out of bed at night.

As it is, I regularly wrestle The Dread of the Seizures to the ground, reassuring myself that his labs for the new levels of medication were good. But otherwise, I repress, compartmentalize and distract myself from worries. I try to be there for Max as best I can and safeguard the house as best I can, but I know that I cannot humanly protect him from all the potential dangers at home—or elsewhere. Nor can I live life putting that pressure on myself. You can babyproof a house, but there's only so much you can do to special-needs-proof a house (or a kid).

I also want Max to gain confidence in his abilities. I want him to feel secure in what he can do and in the possibilities of mastering new skills. I'd like him to understand that if he practices something (the physical therapists at his school have long been working on going down the stairs), he can pull it off. If I'm always there to cushion his falls—physically and psychologically—he will remain codependent on me.

It would be ever so lovely if Max became self-sufficient at vacuuming and dusting, too. Also: Making brownies. With icing.

"He's been doing a good job but you should hold his hand if it makes you feel more comfortable," I told the sitter. Obviously, my being OK with Max going downstairs on his own as his parent is very different than a sitter feeling that way. As for me, though, I'm going to continue to let this boy go it alone.


  1. Good Job Max! Being able to repress your worries and only focus on what you can control is awesome. I have anxiety and that is something I work on daily.

  2. Worry breeds more worry. It is a parasite that sucks the joy out of living.

  3. This really *really* shows the differences in worry "depth" between a sitter and a mom, too. When I was a sitter I worried about things like stairs, cause I could see it. As a parent, oh the river runs much deeper. That said, and I could go on and on, I will also say that your reply to her is perfect - because worry without action is pointless and there's nothing wrong with a hand from a friend. :)

  4. I'm sure having a child with special needs brings this to a whole new level, but it is an issue for all parents in our safety-obsessive times. I have friends who are good about giving their children freedom to play on their own. I stress out about it, but know that I had similar freedom when I was young. Probably best to give kids the chance to experiment while they are more elastic, closer to the ground, and have less elaborate ideas...

  5. Just wondering if Max has a more dominant side- or can he use the rail going down with his left hand and up he can use his right hand? For me with my right sided CP rails both sides were a blessing (so I'd use the rail Max is using in the picture for going down and then use the other side lets say the non picture filled wall side for going up) - but it is all such an individual thing - Regards Jane

    1. Hi, Jane. Max's dominant side is his left and so, he uses his left hand going down and does OK using his right to come up.


Thanks for sharing!

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