by Rachel George
The baby and toddler years are hard. Very few people will dispute that.
Most of us admit to a little relief when our little darlings can feed themselves, take themselves off to the toilet, play quietly in their room, get themselves out of the bath, and, most blissful of all, when they can get themselves some breakfast and play quietly on a Sunday morning instead of insisting on waking everyone up at 6am!
As much as we love and adore them, we all look forward to things getting easier. Our children grow and life changes. Some things get easier and others get harder for a while, then those things get easier and new challenges take their place. ‘Til eventually our sweet darlings become wonderful young adults and we swell with pride at them whilst also worrying whether they are getting enough sleep, driving carefully, or eating properly.
Parenting never really ends, does it? For many though, that statement means so much more.
Ten years on and I still have to do all the same things I did when he was tiny. Yet, he is now only just a foot shorter than I am, but with the outlook of a toddler.
He needs me to hoist him from his bed every day.
He needs me to take him to the toilet.
He needs me to help wash his hands.
He needs me to help feed him.
He needs me to clean his teeth.
He needs me to help him play.
He needs a huge amount of support to achieve things.
He needs me to amuse him for hours on end.
He needs me to put him in the car and secure his wheelchair.
He needs me to repeatedly have the same conversations over and over.
He needs to know what I am doing.
He needs me to guess what he needs when he is unhappy and can’t tell me.
He needs me to do his physiotherapy exercises.
And most of those needs happen whilst he is battling against me like a strong-willed three-year-old!
He needs a parent with endless patience.
He needs a parent with endless energy.
Sometimes I fear that he needs more than I am.
It took at least eight years to admit to myself that my son is disabled. It took longer still to be able to say it out loud to other people. And I have only recently, 10 years on, been able to admit that I am also his carer.
If anything, it is harder to identify times when I am just his parent.
But being his mum is the best and most important role I have in his life.