If you read any special needs family blogs or magazines, they all talk about how it takes "a village" to raise special needs kids. And, lets be honest, it takes a village to raise any child. I knew this early on in our journey with Olivia-- that I couldn't do everything on my own. I didn't have a medical degree, didn't know anything about anticonvulsants, didn't know how to stretch her properly, nothing about assistive technology and the options for communication devices, how to encourage her to look at things that didn't light up, and an endless amount of issues. I knew we would need the village, but honestly, I didn't want it. I, for purely selfish reasons, wanted to be the sole reason Olivia became who she was. It felt natural for her mother to care for all of these needs she had. I think I was jealous. I was afraid of being phased out. I was immature and I think it hindered Olivia's growth. She got all the therapy and treatment early on, but I was insistent on being a nurse and therapist at home, and focused less on being just her mother. Wow, that was harder to even type than I thought it would be--and incredibly shameful. I was too busy try to make her "better" and less focused on just loving her.
Can I just say, though, that the past few months have been the happiest our family has experienced since Olivia's arrival. Yes, in part because she is improving and showing us her funny personality in all kinds of ways. But mostly, because being VERY pregnant with Gabby has shown me that especially when she gets here, I can't be the therapist and the nurse and the mother to two children with the intensity I first wanted to. It would be impossible. And now, instead of being disappointing, that news and realization is freeing for me. I am free to be Olivia's mother.
I'm going to cry again, but we have the most incredible team of dedicated people who love and serve Olivia with such passion--not just for special needs children--but for her. We have friends who have continually surprised us with love and concern, therapists who go, truly, above and beyond to help both Olivia and Brian and I, and preschool teachers who are so intent on teaching her and watching her grow, even though some days are difficult, and family who nurture her and are dedicated to learning about her needs. Will we still "practice" things at home and work on therapy and stretching and switches? Yes, of course. These things make such a difference in Olivia's quality of life and education. But is that my primary job as Olivia's mother? No. And I have to say, I used to think so. Those are options to play and nurture, but that is not all we will do in our house. We will have new experiences, go new places, look at new things, make funny faces at each other, sing songs and laugh. Unfortunately, I'm getting a little late to that game-- Olivia is almost 3. But, health permitting, we will make up for lost time.
So, this weekend we caught up on much needed sleep, snuggled, made faces, and made pancakes amongst therapy and practice walking. And it was delightful.
Also, don't judge the hair. All these pictures were taken in the morning for some reason.