Thursday, September 16, 2010

The double life I lead as a parent

Tonight, Dave and I went to Open School Night at Sabrina's kindergarten. We met her teachers, got the scoop on what they're teaching, heard about how great Sabrina is doing. It's a whole new world for us. There were no walkers in the hallways, no speech or occupational or physical therapists to confer with. The teacher didn't talk to us about Sabrina's ability to grasp a pencil, say her name out loud, or point to something on a wall. The biggest challenge we discussed: getting Sabrina to eat her veggies at lunch.

It hits me sometimes, that I lead two very different lives as a parent. Like the other night, I went to Target to pick up some birthday presents; Max and Sabrina both have parties they're going to in the next few weeks. First, I looked for a present for Max's friend, a kid in his school. I was thinking of a remote-control car. But the remote controls all had such teeny tiny levers, and I thought of how hard they'd be for a child who has issues with fine-motor control. I briefly considered a fun toy a neighbor has—you stomp on a pedal and shoot a foam rocket skyward—only this child is not completely ambulatory and I didn't know if he'd be able to handle it. Fifteen minutes later, I settled on a pair of walkie talkies. This child's speech is coming along, and I thought they would encourage him.

Then I passed by a Pixos set (these little wads of rolled-up paper you glue together to make shaped creatures) and grabbed it for Sabrina's friend.

Of the two parenting lives that I lead, I wouldn't say the one in Special World is necessarily harder; it's just more complicated. It involves more thinking, planning, plotting, accommodating, everything-ing.

Then again, in Special World I get to experience pleasures other parents don't. There's the burst of bliss I feel when I hear Max trying to talk, when I watch him trotting down our street after a neighbor's puppy with his skinny little legs moving as fast as they can (oh, if those NICU doctors could see him go!), when I observe him struggling to pick up a ball with both hands and finally succeed.

Having a double life keeps me more than busy. But it's also made parenthood richer and more satisfying than I could have ever dreamed.


  1. Wow, Kindergarten! Sabrina's really growing up fast, huh?

    All the best to you, Dave, Max, and of course Sabrina :) I hope to see you all soon!

    - R

  2. Look at Sabrina! What a sweet picture! How wonderful that she is doing so well at school.

    And good for Max, trotting along so successfully on his own path.

    All things in time!

  3. This post hits on a kind of mommy guilt I've been feeling lately (and hadn't been expecting).

    Everything I do for my daughter feels so easy. I don't have to put much thought into it because there are not as many things to deal with. I am so intentional with my son who has CP, I feel like I am cheating my daughter of the same care and intention.

  4. So true! I honestly feel like a first time mom with my typically developing daughter sometimes. I remember her first pediatrician appt, the dr was like, "OK, see you in a month!" I was stunned. That's it???

    Also agreed with the richness we have in our "double lives." We appreciate the big and small in ways I don't think other moms do.

  5. I say this all the time, that we are raising two species of children, although they are so alike in so many ways. and you are right, it makes parenting more fulfilling I believe. at least to me.

  6. I wonder if the order makes a difference in perception, too. My older kid couldn't be more "typical" in pretty much every way, but I always thought of her as "special" in a very different sense of the word than I do now with my ASD son. I think had he come first, I would have marveled more at the ordinariness of the issues we face with her (which are no less important for that fact, of course).

    Still, it's all about having to rethink the expectations, use a different reality when you're dealing with one kid versus the other. In that sense, we're all doing the same juggling act!

  7. Great post, and absolutely parallel to my life as well! Now that my daughter is in kindergarten I'm really getting a taste of what I hear the "normals" talk about. Honestly, I feel there's more pressure in "that" particular life than in the SN world of mine. I don't hear my boys complaining they want something another child has...and I'm not given assumed duties for sending in treats and other commitments- there's seems to be a sort of competitiveness in the "normals" school that I never experienced in the SN school too.

    And like Kathy said above, I feel like my heart is really in the twins' activities and school duties while my daughter's are seeming more to me like obligations. I plan to even that out somehow!

  8. I'll never know the "typical" side of parenting, and I'm OK with it. In my old age, I can only keep straight one way of doing things anyway.


Thanks for sharing!

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