As soon as your first child is born your life becomes filled with “proud mommy” moments..first smile, first word, first step, etc. We celebrate and share each one of these milestones, no matter how big or small. These moments become permanently imbedded in your brain and no matter how old a child gets these memories can be recalled as if they only just happened. Having a child with SPD comes with its own brand of “proud mommy” moments..things that people encounter in everyday life that are as big a deal in my child’s life as her first word or first step. So let me share a few “proud mommy” moments…SPD style!
Public restrooms have always been a huge issue for us for two reasons…toilet flushing and hand dryers. Every time my daughter tells me she has to use a restroom when we are out in public, my stomach drops. Will they have paper towels? Will the toilet flush automatically without any warning? Upon entering she already has her hands over her ears in anticipation of others flushing or drying their hands. When a restroom does not have paper towels (and most don’t) I walk out with wet spots all over my pants because she uses my clothing to dry her hands. But two weeks ago, while shopping at Walmart, my daughter told me she had to go potty. Since we were already on the check out line I asked her if she could wait until we got home so the whole sensory situation could be avoided..of course she said no. So we go in, and people are flushing and drying their hands..she says nothing. As we go to wash our hands a woman goes to use the hand dryer and, for a second, a look of terror crosses my daughter’s face. Then she looks at me and says, “That wasn’t so bad, Mom.” So I ask her if she would like to try to use it and she says yes. So I start it up, she puts her little hands under and, with a giant smile she screams, “IT ISN’T SO BAD, MOM!!! I DID IT. I DRIED MY HANDS!” And just as any parent does when they witness one of their child’s milestones..I cry. Right then and there in the Walmart bathroom..I cry..happy tears! We hug, we dance, she skips out of the bathroom. People stare and neither of us care. And, at that moment, she is on top of the world!
Another “proud mommy” moment happened last week while getting ready for bed. Every night, for as long as I can remember, socks must be turned inside out as that is the only way she can wear them. However, last week, as we are getting ready for bed, my daughter and I are talking while she is getting dressed. And I notice, as she is midway thru putting her socks on, that I forgot to flip them inside out. I freeze for a second, and I am about to stop her so I can fix them, but I decide to let it go. And, just like that, the socks went on and stayed on through her changing out of her pajamas the next day. She never once noticed that her socks weren’t inside out. Another sensory milestone..another victory for my little girl…and another “proud mommy” moment for me that I will never forget.
I am happy to report that these victories are happening more often than not these days. Last week she asked me to push her on a swing “higher and higher” and I watched her swinging with a huge smile on her face. I of course, had tears in my eyes. Someone who doesn’t know about Sensory Processing Disorder may think that my daughter has just grown out of her fear of swings. However, swinging on a swing was something her Occupational Therapist worked on twice a week for the entire school year. And it is another sensory mountain that my four year old has worked hard to overcome. These small moments..the hand dryer, the socks, the swings..these milestones have come from my daughter’s hard work and persistence. They didn’t come naturally as they do to most people. I have watched her for years on play dates in the park. She would watch her friends swing and I could see it in her face that she wanted to be just like them. But she couldn’t. Sometimes she would go so far as to ask me to sit her in the swing. And she would sit there, body tense, asking me to hold the swing in place so it didn’t move at all. And now she swings..happy and carefree. And through all these moments that I celebrate and share with you, that may sound silly to some, I am in awe of my four year old. She has overcome more in the last year than I ever have in my entire life. There are things that I am afraid of that I will never try. I play it safe. I am not a risk taker. But my daughter is. She never gives up. She is strong. She is determined. And someday I want to be just like her!