Me + My boy
I’m throwing down some real feelings today in this post, and owning up to some questionable parenting hacks . At the end of the day we all just do our best - we do what we can and hope we don’t mess our kids up in the process. And sometimes, only when we look back do we see there might have been a different way. But the moment has passed, and we do our best to do better in the future. I’m a good mom. I try my hardest to make sure my kids have what they need, but my my attention is not always evenly spread across the board. Maye that’s the same for you, too? Ya. I get it, I really do. So… this post is for you.
Sometimes he gets lost in the shuffle, classic middle child syndrome without actually being the middle child. When I think of the role he plays or lives up to each day, my heart cracks a tiny bit and I wonder if I’m asking him to grow up too fast. There are some dynamics in our family that aren’t same as others. Our entire family is rooted in loss. We navigate a child who can’t communicate the way she wishes. We have a baby that completes us. When I tally off that list, where does Wally fit in?
He isn’t Lochlan, the child we lost.
He isn’t Kenzie, the child with special needs.
He isn’t Woodford, the baby of the family.
When he started walking and talking it was amazing. All of a sudden we could communicate with one of our kids, we could ask what he wanted and he would tell us. We could ask what was wrong, and he would tell us. He could pick up a book, walk over to me while I propped his sister up on some pillows, and I could understand he wanted to read with me. Soon, it became possible to have a conversation with him, and outtings became really fun as we chatted about the boats or the taxi’s that passed us by. But seeing his success with walking and talking also made me long for Kenzie to keep up. We did more therapy, we spent time with her on the floor, helping her do “sit to stand'“ and taking her to private speech lessons. As Wally got more successful in his skills, the harder we tried to keep Kenzie by his side.
And then, I got pregnant again. Baby Woodford joined our little family and everything felt compete. Now I had a tiny person to feed and clean and keep alive, as well as a daughter who needed help with play and communication, and a son who could keep himself busy or I could ask to “go downstairs and paly” to make things easier. My nights were long and tiring with a new baby, my days we long and tiring with two toddlers at home, and when Wally was able to figure out my phone and choose his own show to watch, I was relived. A little more time with Kenzie, a little longer to feed baby - Wally’s confidence and capability allowed me chances to help the other two.
The twins started daycare at 3.5 years old, and the majority of our attention was spent on how Kenzie would transition. “Wally is good! Wally is so confident, Wally speaks so well, climbs so well, eats so well, he’s going to be great.” My attention went to his sister, who needed help understanding social cues and learning how to wait and take part in circle time. Her therapies started happening at daycare and we would visit once in a while to see how she was progressing. Wally was a given. He was doing just fine.
At home he can get his own water, he can reach the counter for a snack, he can go to the bathroom, he can open the door and play in our backyard. But the more he can do, the more I take advantage… “Wally, go outside so I can feed Woodsy. Wally, go downstairs so I can read this book with Kenzie. Wally, watch TV on my bed so I can make dinner…” Just thinking about how many times I jump on board the Wally-Capability-Train in a day makes me sad.
Lately, Wally has been asking if I can drive him to class, if I can play with him downstairs, if I can take him to the park - just us two. I see that look in his eyes and I wonder, does he feel forgotten? Is he acting out these days because that’s what his sister does and she gets so much of mommy’s attention? It’s really impossible not to place blame on myself for giving more attention to Kenzie, for choosing to walk to the grocery store with just Woodford, for knowing Wally can do things on his own simply and leaving him to do them.
I know. This is the same feeling every parent has. It’s not specific to twins, or kids with special needs, it’s a feeling that across the board of parenting we all try not to fuel. I’m just being real with where that feeling is sitting currently, which is about neck level. The truth is, I do have twins. I do have two kids the exact age that need the same amount of love. I do have a child with special needs that can’t communicate all the time, that does need extra one on one care. I do have a baby that loves his mama and wants to be held all.the.time. And right now, in my season of parenting, it all feels really hard.
I am realizing that while all three of these children need an equal amount of Mom, they actually don’t need the same kind of attention. One afternoon I’ll take Wally to the park, just me and him, and his excitement to have me all to himself makes me tear up. Another day I’ll bring a word book and the stroller for a Kenzie day, and we will walk to get ice cream and then learn some new signs. And Woodsy, good lord as long as I bring crackers and my boobs we have our best day ever. I can’t make these outings happen regularity, but I am trying to do them more and more - for them, of course - but also for me. Because I need a win, I need a day where it feels good and I accomplished something with one of them, and we understood each other.
Kenzie needs to know I am close by, that she can touch me, that I look her in the eyes and she can make me understand her needs. Woodsy needs me to play, have fun, nurture and love him beyond measure. And Wally… my big boy that seems too big for only being 4 years old - he needs me to explore with him, to talk, challenge, question and discover with him. To always show as much enthusiasm for a red taxi as he does.
It seems like a crazy twister of a road map, to figure out your kids and try to decipher which way you can help them grow to be their best. One day, the work we put in now will be a small piece of who they are. Yes, we are taking part in the shaping of who they are, but they have so much of their own discovering to do. All I can do, is find a way to feel like I’m taking part, without going insane.