In Kelly’s Words – How are the kids?
The question I get the most when I see someone who I haven’t seen in a while is “How are your kids?”. I was very open about my pregnancies on this blog and how those differed for me because of my spinal cord injury, and because of that I think there are a lot of people invested in, or at least curious about, my kids. So I thought I’d use this blog to give an update on them. Not necessarily about how raising kids is different because of my injury, but about my kids personalities, their differences, and their progress. This is the focus of my life right now and it is a reflection I share with all kinds of mothers whether they have a spinal cord injury or are facing any other kind of personal challenge.
This weekend Nell will turn 1! As is typical for parenthood, I think, it feels both like time has flown by and like we have had her forever. Our only comparison to the first year is with Dylan, which was a really big challenge. Dylan was really colicky and didn’t eat well, so we had a lot of fussiness and crying (also from Zeke and me!). The first year for Nell has been very different. Nell has been an easy baby from the start.
She’s pretty much your ideal baby (again, quite the contrast from Dylan at this age). Nell has slept through the night since 7 months. She’ll literally eat anything we put in front of her. So much so that Dylan has taken to announcing to anyone who will listen that “Nell eats anything”. Apparently we have said that enough times for it to stick in Dylan’s mind! We have realized how much we have to change what we buy at the grocery store because of what Nell eats, something we haven’t had to do because of Dylan, who to this day hardly eats fruits. The difference in our kids has been an incredible lesson for me as a parent. No matter how much we try to change or shape our children, they will be who they will be. We introduced food to both kids in the same way and they are vastly different eaters.
Nell isn’t walking yet but is close. While a lot of people think about kids starting to walk around a year old, it is actually normal to walk any time between 9 and 18 months. Dylan didn’t walk until she was 15 months old and Zeke used to say that was because I was a bad role model (depending on if you know Zeke you either cringe or laugh and roll your eyes). Even though Nell started crawling before she was 6 months old (which is really young), she still looks to be pretty far from actually walking. Maybe there is something to Zeke’s theory ;).
Dylan has really loved her sister. We never saw any jealousy or acting out against Nell. She just loves to give Nell hugs. And more hugs. And longer hugs. Until Nell cries. This seems like a fun game. Dylan also likes to protect Nell, and take toys that may not be good for her to play with, or keep her from going somewhere she shouldn’t. All of these really loving things that don’t necessarily cause joy for Nell… But sarcasm aside, Dylan is acting like I would expect a 3-year-old to act. She is great with Nell at times, and then pushes ours and Nell’s buttons at other times. We are starting to see them play together which will be a really fun stage.
Dylan will be 4 in April and it is amazing to watch her learn about the world around her. She loves to work on writing her letters. We addressed Valentine’s Day cards to her pre-school class and she was able to write the names of all of her classmates on each card. Some needed a little interpretation, but generally she did great and I was so impressed. She has a placemat with the map of the United States. We often talk about where we are traveling or where someone lives and she loves to find these places on the map. Her memory is amazing and she will tell us days or weeks later about a specific place and who lives there. She also has recently made great progress in skiing. Last year and the beginning of this year skiing was mostly about the hot chocolate for Dylan. But the last couple weekends she has made a lot of progress and is able to do a pizza (snowplow) and make turns by herself. It has been so much fun to take some runs with her after we get her from ski school. I can only imagine how fun this will be over the next few years!
I said at the start this was a blog about my kids and not my spinal cord injury, but I do have one observation. So often after someone has a spinal cord injury they, and those close to them, think that their whole life will change. I’m here to tell you, whether you are a mom in a wheelchair or not, we all deal with the same issues. When I reflect on the last year with Nell and the last almost 4 with Dylan, the joys and struggles are about them, their lives, and their challenges. It’s not about what is different (or not) because I’m in a wheelchair. Sure there are some things that we’ve had to adapt and there are some things that take me a bit longer, but those are pretty minor. The real successes and challenges of being a parent are not specific to me.
It is so much fun to be a mom. My girls make me laugh every day. Watching them grow and develop and learn new things (I love when Dylan asks, “What does ___ mean?”) is so rewarding. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exhausting and exhilarating, frustrating and rewarding, natural and foreign, but Zeke and I feel very lucky.