Cerebral Palsy, Five Minute Friday, Inclusion, Nursery School, Our Daughter, Our Son, Parenthood, Toronto

Five Minute Friday: Belong

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I know it’s late. It’s not even Friday. Kind of apropos I suppose. When I saw the word ‘belong’ I couldn’t resist. You know what it feels like to be left out of the bubble of (new) motherhood when your (first) child has additional/special needs.

Even after Tallula was born I still didn’t belong to that typical mom bubble. I didn’t belong with those new moms who talked about things happening ‘on time’ or, gasp, ‘early’. Like sleeping through the night. Grasping. Sitting up. Crawling. Walking. Talking. I hated being next to these women in doctors offices and clinics, so giddy with excitement at their baby’s first anything. Bragging. Complaining. ‘She never stops talking. She gets into everything! Makes the biggest messes. She runs in and wakes me every morning. She eats all the time. And with such ease.’ Ok, I added the last one for effect. It was difficult being around those first time moms.

Unless their child had a disability too. OR Unless they had a child with a disability too. That’s where I belonged. Even though now, I too, had a baby that could possibly do all of those things listed above. Early. On time. But it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter when Tallula did anything. We got excited about everything and anything but mostly we were filled with a sense of awe and wonder. Because we knew what it was like to wait and hope and believe. Then we knew what it was like to accept. To understand. To acknowledge. And move forward.

Tallula and I attended a babies group this year one morning a week at Sebastian’s previous nursery school. The class was filled with new moms. Some moms were like I was with Sebastian. New to diagnosis. Or an unknown/no diagnosis. Scared. Tired. Overwhelmed. Some moms were the moms I never wanted to be around. Except they weren’t. Because they were there. Mixed in with the rest of us. The class was a mix of typical and non-typical babies and their moms and sometimes their dads. Some moms had other kids and some this was their first. Some of the babies had a diagnosis and needs and some didn’t.

I watched Tallula help those that needed helping and challenge those that didn’t; sharing a toy or taking one away. I watched her make friends with everyone. I watched myself open up to moms that didn’t know what it was like to be one of us, the mom with the exceptional child. And I listened to moms that were just learning and finding their way in this new type of club.

Tallula and I. We belonged. And it felt wonderful. All because of Sebastian and his pure, exceptional, awesomeness.

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12 thoughts on “Five Minute Friday: Belong”

  1. this is a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing your heart and both of your precious kiddos with us. ! Hopping over from FMF where I am a HABITUAL late poster 🙂

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  2. Beautiful! I was the same way with adopting “not a newborn” and all that you miss in those first nine months – and the nine months before that. Well said! Three cheers for the Tuesday writers. 🙂

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  3. I really enjoyed that!!!
    But even when I was in mixed environments after my daughter (w/o disability) was born, I still didn’t feel that I fit. I only really felt I fit where people got difference in a profound way.
    I remember being at a discussion for moms of kids with and without disabilities who were toddlers. And a mom of a typical kid went on and on and on about her kid’s ear infections. Then it was the next mom’s turn, and she told us her son had a degenerative condition and would lose his skills and die. I couldn’t really get how it benefitted either to have those two extremes put together (at least when your kids are super young and your emotions are really raw). I just wanted the mom of the typical kid to shut up.

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    1. Before the other moms at the group knew me and my story I’m wondering if they thought I was the mom with the typical daughter running and climbing and doing all of these things. But as soon as I started talking about my experience in NICU and my non-verbal, non-mobile son, there was this huge relief for me as well as for them. Like, oh, she does get it. And vice versa. But even so we were at different places because my child with a disability was much older than theirs. But we still helped each other. I could give them a perspective of the future and acceptance and they could give me that feeling that they knew what it was like to struggle and feel lost in those early days. And for the other typical moms I like to think they learned something from me too. If anything, it was a great reminder in not judging because you don’t know sometimes story until they share it. It’s also really important for me for Tallula to experience the mixed environment too. I want her to know that there are other kids with disabilities, that her brother isn’t an anomaly. But also experience typical kids like herself.

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  4. HI Kara — I think there needs to be some facilitation in mixed groups where health issues are being discussed so that the parents of typical babies/toddlers have some sensitivity as to what the other parents are experiencing. I’m not sure exactly what that would look like, but to me it’s similar to the idea of needing to educate kids about differences vs. just putting them together and hoping for the best (thinking of kids older than toddlers here).

    I remember having my son as an 18 month old at a playgroup and a mom of a typical kid saying “What does he have?” The kids were playing with plastic toys and I thought she was asking about what he was holding. Then I realized she was asking about his diagnosis. He was so young then and I didn’t want to be asked what he “had.”

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    1. Hi Louise, You are right. Facilitation is good. At the babies group we attend there is a teacher who is very active in conversations with everyone, in small groups, one on one, that is her role. And somehow for me I kind of took on a role too since I was ahead of the game in the ‘parenting a child with a disability department’. These other moms where new comers to that world and some of them were really struggling. And because I had been doing it for awhile I could offer some perspective. But they also grounded me because even though we were at different places in our journeys and our journeys were different, there was a common bond in all of it.

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