My kids, my walker, and me: intentional parenting (limitations included)
When my husband first brought home a walker for me I never expected it to become a permanent fixture in our home. If you've been around here a while you know that even after spending almost a month in a rehabilitation hospital learning how to walk again, the disorder I have continues to make putting one foot in front of the other hard and sometimes impossible. And with two little ones underfoot it’s even trickier.
To be honest, I haven’t always loved my walker (what 30-year-old would?) but it’s become a reliable companion. With its four wheels and handy dandy seat, I can easily get the laundry from the dryer, empty a garbage can full of dirty diapers or even sit and wheel around on a bad day.
What’s it like being a stay-at-home mom with a walker?
Much of what happens in our home would probably look pretty familiar to you. Macaroni and Cheese lunches, bathtub giggles and end-of-day tears.
Others, I admit, are probably pretty unique.
The near heart attacks from being pushed at light speed across the kitchen floor by my 6-year-old. (Mental note: my walker makes a far better rocket when I’m not sitting on it. Apparently those “Warning: Do not move rollator while seated” stickers all over my walker aren’t just for show.)
The countless stubbed toes (mostly my poor husband’s). Ironic that a walking aide is by far the biggest tripping hazard than anything else in our house!
And the toddler dilemma. Because not surprisingly, my little one walks faster than I do. Which is a challenge in more ways than one, but especially when “helping” means pulling along my walker with me holding on tight behind it. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure one of these days I’m going to end up in a heap on the floor calling after my two-year-old to bring back my walker.
Intentional parenting, limitations included
All silliness aside though, there are days when being a mom feels like the best gift in the world. And there are days when being a mom feels like the hardest thing in the world. Especially with the unique struggles that come with such limiting health challenges.
But if you’re a mom, you know better than anyone that challenges and limitations simply come with the job. Despite the necessity, you can only ever be in one place at one time. You can’t possibly know where every single toy is - even when your little one’s missing dump truck has become a full blown crisis. And being patient every second of every day is, at times, just more than you can do no matter how much you love these little ones that are yours.
And so you choose your battles. Because while you certainly can’t win them all, you can’t possibly fight them all either. So whether I’m feeling good and ready to conquer the day or so tired and slow I can barely make it to the bathroom, I’ve decided that intentional parenting—all things considered—is simply focusing on the battles that are really worth fighting for. Here are a few of mine...
Say "yes" more than I say "no"
For my own self-confidence as much as my kids’ happiness I try to trade “No, I can’t do that” for an enthusiastic “Yes!” whenever reasonably possible.
So I bundle up and camp out in the garage while snowmen are made. I host a tea party in place of the trip to the park we can’t take. And when my sweet girl melts down and begs me to carry her up the stairs, I plant myself on the bottom stair, pull her in my arms and say, “Yes, I can hold you.” She and I will rock on the bottom stair until her tears are gone and she’s ready to climb up the stairs... since we both know I can’t carry her up, no matter how much we both wish I could.
There will always be times I have to say no - due to my own limitations or not. But it’s proven to be a good challenge (and beneficial to all of us) to test my creativity and fill the day with “Yes!”
Make room for disappointment and tears
Not too long ago, as we knelt for family prayer, I heard my sweet boy humbly pleading that “Mama would be able to walk and not need her walker or crutches anymore.” His faith melted my heart, but that tiny glimpse into his perspective was hard to hear.
I immediately wanted to snuggle him in my arms and tell him that it’s okay that my body doesn’t work right. That there’s still so much to be happy and grateful for. And that I’m learning so much through this struggle. The mama in me didn’t want to see him sad.
But, as a mom, there are times to share your perspective and there are times to listen to theirs. Sometimes that means not trying to talk them into feeling happy and fine. Sometimes that means letting them cry.
Show them that life is happy and good
While I give my little ones space to be disappointed, I know what will ultimately carry them forward and upward is the trust that life is good, safe and happy. Because it is! They sleep in a warm, comfortable house. Their days are filled with music, Legos and snacks whenever their little tummies need one. And most importantly, they have a loving God who is aware of them and will guide them in their lives always.
Even from behind a walker - coming from my own place of sadness or guilt or exhaustion - I know I shape how my little ones see the world and their life. If I see life as an adventure we’re conquering together, they will too. If I believe life is happy and good, they will too.
It's worth the fight
Some days I have more energy to dump into these battles than others. Some days I feel more victorious than others. And some days I wonder why I even bothered trying at all. But I hope that I’m fighting well enough that every night my kids go to bed knowing that, despite my limited physical abilities, my capacity to love them is as big as they’ll ever need it to be.
My legs might need a walker to get around. But I hope they never question that my heart is strong and never gets tired of loving.