My Babies- Part 1: Benjamin
One of my goals for 2018 is to get in the frame with my kiddos more often. Every year I make a photo book for each of my four kids with the highlights of their year, and I always have a ton of photos of them with my husband, and very little of them with me. This year will be the start of a change in that trend! On that note, and so you can get a further glimpse into who I am, this will be the first in a four-part blog post introducing you to each of my little ones. I hope this gives you a chance to reflect on what you love about the little ones (or maybe they’re not so little anymore) you are raising, or have raised, and motivates you to be grateful for the beautiful relationship you share with each of your children.
It might seem odd to you that I am starting this series with my second child instead of my oldest, but I was the middle of 5 girls growing up and I rarely got to be first at anything, so sometimes I do special things for Benjamin just because he is my most “middle” child. Even though my husband David and I have four, our third child is the only girl and that lessens the middle child impact for her. Benj has to carry the brunt of the middle child load.
Benjamin was by far my easiest pregnancy, labor, and delivery. He was a pretty good baby as far as I can remember, and watching him interact with his older brother brought a whole new level of joy to me as a mother. Of course Timothy, our oldest, has two years and a significant height and weight advantage over Benj, but I think that has only fueled the fire of determination that burns inside of Benjamin. While Timothy could make the basketball into the hoop in a two or three tries, it would take Benjamin half an hour or more. I have literally watched this boy shoot a ball over and over and over again, for more than 30 minutes, just to make one ball into the hoop. And this was when he was 4 years old. If anything, Benjamin’s determination has increased since that time. Here’s a recent example for you:
Several weeks ago we discovered that Benjamin needed glasses. He wore them for about ten minutes on that first day, but since then no amount of bribery OR threats will keep those glasses on his face. I even offered the kid a 50 dollar bill you guys (ok, not my best parenting moment) and still he wouldn’t wear those darn glasses! So sometimes I feel like the determination/stubbornness of this child is more than I can take, but then I remember his struggles, and I take a deep breath, and I thank God for giving me such a determined boy. I believe there is a good reason that determination is such a large part of who Benjamin is.
To make a long story short, Benjamin was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 2. At the doctor’s mention of cerebral palsy, images of wheel chairs and other such scary things flashed through my mind, because my knowledge on the subject was miniscule. Since then I have learned that cerebral palsy effects people to varying degrees, and Benjamin has an extremely mild case. It is also a condition that doesn’t change much over time, because cerebral palsy is an umbrella term used to describe any brain damage that occurred before birth or shortly thereafter. I could go on and on about all of the implications that this diagnosis has had on our everyday life as a family. It means loads of therapy, more trips to the ER due to Benj’s brain not being able to communicate with his legs fast enough at times, and extra caution while navigating stairs or other such hazards.
While having a child with cerebral palsy has been difficult, I am eternally grateful that for the most part, no one else but me notices his struggles. He can walk, run, jump, and kick a ball, and that is a huge blessing. So I try to remember to be grateful for the ridiculous amount of stubbornness all stored up in one little boy, because if it weren’t for that, who’s to say that he would have ever tried hard enough to walk in the first place. One therapist described it to me this way once: If something takes a fully functional brain only 5% of effort to accomplish a task, it would take Benjamin 30% of effort to accomplish the same task, even something as simple as walking. Imagine living your life and being exhausted just by walking around! When I put it in that perspective I find gratitude for his never-give-up attitude, even if it means he never gives up at attempting to get the cookies from on top of the refrigerator when I’ve repeatedly told him not to!
If you have a child with cerebral palsy I would love to hear your experience! Please comment below with what has helped you cope with this struggle- I am eager to read what you have to say! In the meantime, here is a video that I found recently about a young lady dealing with cerebral palsy and the beautiful lessons she learned through her struggles.
Thank you for taking the time to read this novel! I didn’t realize when I started writing this blog post that it would end up being so long. There isn't anything closer to my heart than my children, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s hard to contain my thoughts on the subject into a few short words! To wrap it up, I would say stay strong mommas! Motherhood is not glamorous. Or easy. Or even fun sometimes! We might not understand the trials that other moms around us are dealing with, so let's all be kind to each other. The work you are doing by raising your children is the most important work you will ever do. It’s hard to see that through the mountains of laundry and piles of dirty dishes, but I promise it is true!
This is from when he was 3, but it's one of my all-time favorites!