Posted Feb 5, 2015 by Jacquie Robison
The diagnosis of our daughter with CP came less than a month after I had given my notice at the office. I had returned to work following maternity leave and I enjoyed the intensity and contribution I made at the technology company where I worked. But, I did feel that push and pull many parents struggle with; I was trying to figure out the right balance for our family and for myself. In the end, I realized that while I was certainly driven to do my best to set the company up for success, I had the same goal for my daughter. And, I couldn’t do both at the level I demanded. My executive team and I agreed to a three-month transition and I found myself imagining mornings headed down to the park with my daughter skipping alongside me. She was almost a year and a half, and while she wasn’t yet walking, she had begun to pull to stand and we thought it was just a matter of time before we would frantically be childproofing everything!
So, the news of her diagnosis and the realization that being at home would look very different than I had imagined was a big adjustment. Already, I expected that being an all-the-time and always-on parent would be a huge transition. Now, I had been thrown this curveball that included physical therapy appointments, home-based activities and a child who would know hard work much sooner than I would wish on anyone.
We now understood that Sofia needed help with learning to move her body correctly. We realized that even her reciprocal crawling was a bit stilted and I began to move along behind her on my hands and knees, pumping her right leg forward while moving her left hand forward in unison. Again and again.
“I think you can. I think you can. I know you can. I know you can.” I would repeat these phrases and have her join in while we moved about the floor — our own small engine and train car chugging up a hill.
Early on, my husband and I talked about the importance of language. When we heard her say, “I can’t do it”, we would gently correct “you’re not yet able to do that” or “that’s something you’re still working on.” I talked to her about the fact that she was in control of moving her body — not mom or dad or anyone else. This ownership was important to her. Young kids don’t generally get to make lots of decisions on their own, and she delighted in the realization that she was in charge! I explained that I could set up all the adventures in the world, but if she didn’t want to do them, I couldn’t make her. Her body would listen to her brain. We sat side-by-side and I told her that was true for everything she did. Her body was always listening — both to how she wanted it to move and also to how she felt. So, it was important for her to tell herself that she believed in her very being. In doing her very best possible. Never to tell herself “I can’t”, because what you think, you become. Think carefully.