Julie Lyles Carr: Seasons and Transitions

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Seasons and Transitions

4 and 7 of 8 edit1

I began yesterday to answer an Ask Octamom question from Natonthewall, dealing with challenging seasons and transitions in our parenting journey. You can read yesterday's post on Mommyhood Mojo by clicking here. Today I'm addressing the season many parents experience, the season when the needs of one child become priority in family life, whether those needs are medical or expressed in difficult behavior.

M and M
4 of 8 and 7 of 8's first names both start with M. And both of them were born with unique challenges, 4 of 8's being hearing impairment and 7 of 8's being an ischemic neonatal stroke.

The seasons surrounding their diagnoses were tough. For obvious reasons. And for some not so obvious reasons.

It takes a while to process the information you're given following all the tests and the labeling of what you're dealing with. Frankly, it's always a learning process. Just about the time I think I've got my mind around therapies and approaches and expectations, something I hadn't thought of, whether it be a functional or an emotional issue, will shift things a touch and I'll find myself feeling a little shaky again.

But for the most part, the transitional challenge has been in determining the appropriate 'place' their challenges fit within the context of our family.  Particularly with 4 of 8, her hearing impairment became center stage within our family life for quite a while.  Because she was so frustrated most of the time in trying to communicate with us, her little temper fits could halt many a dinner time or homeschool session.  The financial requirements of hearing aids and FM systems also impacted family dynamics, changing the flex of our budget.  And the emotions and time spent in therapy and our worries and concerns continued to keep her hearing loss tantamount.

I don't really remember what shook me awake during this time, made me more aware of the needs of other children in the family and how we needed to strike some kind of balance. I do know that when we finally got 4 of 8 in with the right therapist, our beloved Wendy, it was Wendy who strongly coached me into understanding that 4 of 8's hearing loss, while definitely part of the family landscape, couldn't be the sum total of the family landscape.

Of course, there are seasons when, because of an experience a family member is having, things shift and the time requirements and resources to meet what is going on with that family member do take priority. It's not always a medical need. One of my dear friends has been through a  season like that with a child who has struggled with 'rebellious teen' issues.  This child's escapades have involved some pretty serious consequences and it would be easy to let the whole family environment be set by the thermostat of this difficult climate.  But I salute the wisdom of my precious friend in continuing to focus on her other children, in continuing to be purposeful in engaging in fun activities and outings with the other kids.

When we received the results of 7 of 8's MRI, revealing that she had experienced an neonatal ischemic stroke, we sat stunned for a bit, even though I had done enough research to know that that was where we were headed.  But I suppose since we had already waded through similar waters with 4 of 8, we were able to navigate a bit more quickly and were a bit more adept in determining the rightful place of this news.  I think we've been able to make these challenges 'family projects', if you will, with everyone pitching in to help with therapy and to both protect and challenge the girls as we continue to encourage their development and growth.  And along the way, I've also come to recognize that each of my kids has 'special needs'~~that kiddo who struggles to walk in patience, the one who needs an extra dose of encouragement, the child who has to work a little harder on consideration.  Those character needs are part of the tapestry of family life as well, and equally important in the perspective of parenting.

Tomorrow I'll be wrapping up this discussion of Natonthewall's question~~
Moving and Multiples

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