I’m trying something new, so bear with me. I follow a blogger named Ellen Stumbo and each week she assigns a different topic for others to write about. It’s kind of nice to have a set theme to work off of, rather than racking my brain to come up with things to write. These writing prompts are like a (not-for-credit) homework assignment. Nerd alert!
Anyways, this week’s topic is Celebrating Milestones. When the boys were very little, before I knew about Caleb’s cerebral palsy, I assumed they would hit their developmental milestones around the same time. In typical twin fashion, they both excelled in raising their head, but both struggled with rolling over consistently. At 7 months old (5 months, adjusted) Wyatt was able to sit on his own. Caleb was 10 months old at the time of his diagnosis and still unable to sit on his own. That was one of my first lessons of being a special needs mom… you toss out the parenting books that tells you what to expect and when because frankly, they no longer apply.
Milestones are a little bittersweet in my house. We were ecstatic when Wyatt took his first wobbly steps, then I was sad because there sat Caleb, watching Wyatt cover so much ground. To make matters worse, I then felt guilty for feeling sorry for Caleb and not feeling 100% excited for Wyatt’s big accomplishment. It’s like I couldn’t win. I had to learn that being happy for Wyatt wasn’t doing Caleb a disservice. And now, I look forward to being able to celebrate Caleb’s first steps someday.
I’m learning to appreciate all milestones, whether they came naturally or after weeks and weeks of hard work. Caleb’s skills will always inspire me because I know the effort that goes into learning these new “tricks”. Caleb also causes me to more fully appreciate Wyatt’s natural abilities and how incredible kids are.
There was only a few months between Wyatt learning to sit and then Caleb’s ability to sit on his own. We’re currently at a 5 month gap between Wyatt’s crawling milestone and Caleb’s (backward) crawling and being oh-so-close to forward crawling. Walking… well, that’s been the toughest one. I have no idea when Caleb will be able to walk. Certainly months, most likely a year, maybe two. Who knows. I know that he will walk someday, that’s all that matters. We’re no longer in a rush when it comes to Caleb. Progress may sometimes seems slow, but all that matters is that there’s progress at all.
The trouble with walking is that it magnifies the difference between my identical twin boys. The average person seeing them in a stroller would have no idea Caleb has CP. But just last week, while watching Wyatt stagger around the mall’s play area, I felt like our little secret was so out in the open. I couldn’t very well let Wyatt climb all over all of the play structures so I had to follow him, while carrying Caleb. I started to work up a sweat, carrying a 20+ lb toddler who doesn’t always have the ability to wrap his legs around you. I felt clumsy and awkward, like I was trying to act normal and failing miserably. I felt the eyes of the other parents on me and I began to wonder what they thought of my situation. Looking back, I know that I shouldn’t care what strangers think, but in my heart I know this was the beginning of being noticeably “different.” Maybe it was a special-needs mom’s version of a milestone.
I’ll certainly be anxious for the day when both boys can talk and walk and jump and we can put all this milestone business behind us. Until then, we’ll keep working at it and celebrating these events the best way we know how… pictures, applause, kisses and hugs… regardless of how long it takes.