Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Day 9: Training Wheels on a Tricycle
Daddy took Simon to KKI today, and according to both of his Therapists he did 1000 times better. No tears, an overall happy mood, cooperation and lots of good focused work. I noticed the difference immediately when he came home for lunch. He was relaxed and pleasant, and was even using his hand without hesitation to grab at some grapes (um, wow!).
This morning, he rode the therapy trike all the way down the hall, something he refused to attempt yesterday!
I'm trying to simply be happy about this positive progress, without taking it personally that I am a problem. Apparently, right now I'm a major distraction. This issue has cropped up in a minor way in the past, and Simon does cry a little every time I part with him for preschool. However, since no other therapy program we have participated in has been so intense (in activity or duration), I guess that Simon's desire for an "out" hasn't been quite as strong, either.
Ultimately, this means that it is better for Daddy to take Simon to therapy the majority of the time. Though it never sat well with me, this was the loose plan from the beginning. When we were initially talking about our participation in the program, I was worried that I wouldn't have enough time to work if I was at KKI all morning, all week, all month. I'd only get about 3 "business" hours in a day (the kids get home at 4 in the afternoon from regular school), a potential problem.
As a designer, I'm fortunate enough to sustain being self-employed (aside from my teaching appointment), and therefore I have a lot of flexibility. It is because of my children that I set my business up this way (though I do occasionally entertain fantasies of growing the business, moving it out of the house, hiring staff... sigh. I digress...). Anyway, for the past four and a half years, I've been able to wrap my work life around Simon's therapy schedule and other appointments (sometimes as many as 6 or 7 a week). Most of my real creative work happens in the "off" hours, anyway, at night and on weekends, so any business hours I am able to devote to client contact -- meetings, etc. Despite my acrobatic flexibility, I knew that being gone so much would be difficult. I can't tell my clients to hold onto projects for a month, and I do like to give at least the vague impression of professionalism... having office hours is key to that facade.
Fortunately, Brian has a wonderful, family-friendly employer (shout out to Loyola University Maryand) who was willing to let him be flexible with his hours for the duration of this program. Believe me, we both know and appreciate what a gift this is, especially having had "agency" backgrounds (the exact opposite of family-friendly) in our past.
So, I'm very grateful for this help, and in general for the awesome, amazing co-parenting my spouse is happy to participate in. Deep down, however, I have to admit that I am also disappointed at the thought of not being there the entire time. Like I said, I've done this for four and a half years and stepping back does not come easy for me. What I really want is to be in the classroom, observing, learning, and being as active a particpant as possible in Simon's growth and progress.
But I have to accept that me being there (heck -- me being in the building), isn't helping either of us. In this situation, "Mommy" is a crutch and a distraction. I need to limit myself to the designated meeting times throughout the week (fortunately, that is a big part of the program), and the "homework," as the best ways to help and be involved.
Letting go. Is there anything more confusing in parenthood than knowing the difference between when to push yourself in and when to pull yourself back?
Employing this concept with my "big girl," who has excellent communication skills and is all around an over-achieving, social kid, has been tough enough. Two years ago, despite the fact that I had every confidence in her ability to navigate any challenge ahead, the separation anxiety I felt when she went to elementary school was staggering.
With Simon, knowing when to let go is even more confusing. The decision is filled with trepidation, and the act almost physically painful (for both of us). He is so very vulnerable and we have been through so very much, that every cell in my being aches to protect him.
I know that holding on so tightly is not the way to help him grow, learn, and become the best he can be, whatever form that will take. But where is the distinction between holding up and holding on? Being an advocate and being a hindrance? And how on earth will I find it?