In the midst of Nolan's recovery, Asher's sleeplessness, and mama's exhaustion, we tried something new this week - why not throw something else on our plates, right?! On Monday, for the first time ever, I took the boys to Strong Start - a preschool type drop in class that parents attend with their children. I have always felt overwhelmed going, both because I have two kids and there is only one of me, but also more so because those two kids have CP. Other than swimming lessons, I have yet to take the boys to a group where their differences are so notable and they are surrounded by typically developing kids who can do all the things I wish the boys could do with ease.
Lucky, lucky us, a few weeks ago a mom in our neighborhood contacted the foundation that provides our therapy, asking if there was a family that they knew could benefit from her helping hands one morning a week. Guess who they suggested she help out with Strong Start?!
Turns out we know each other from around the school, but she had no idea we were the family she had signed up to help. She is lovely and we are becoming fast friends. I was very honest with her from the get go about how hard this is for me to go to things like play groups and she has been incredibly empathetic and supportive. We've gotten together a few times and really hit it off, and of course she fell in love with the boys!
Part of me was looking for an excuse - any excuse - to not go this week (the past two weeks when I had worked up my nerve I had legitimate reasons to cancel - first my sickness, then Asher's). But I knew it was good for the boys and they would love it so it was time to put my fears aside and go for it. She assured me that if it was too much we could leave at any time, but I really wanted to stick it out. I feared that if I gave up on day one I would never have the strength to return.
As expected, the boys did great and loved it. I tried to steer Asher towards fun toys that would encourage fine motor skills, and I let Nolan loose to have a hay day with trucks, cars and trains. After a period of free play we took all of the kids to the gym, and while it was challenging to find things that Asher could do, we made it work. Luckily, because my new friend knows Strong Start better than me (I haven't been since Rio was three) she reminded me that at the very end of gym time they line up and race end to end of the gym. That would have been a bit painful to see so we snuck out in time to miss it.
The class continued after gym but we were all spent, so we called it a day and ended on a high note. It was so great to have someone supportive at my side, encouraging me and being an extra set of hands for the boys. I think it is hilarious I had previously planned do it on my own, because after attending with another adult I see now there is no way I could have done it. Two able bodied three year olds would have been hard enough for one mom! One who needs hand holding to walk (and carrying when he is tired), and the other who needs to be held 24/7 would have proved impossible and I would have left in tears and frustration.
We have set up a recurring date to attend every Monday and it is scheduled in the calendar just like the rest of the boys' appointments so I can't cancel! Although they are lucky to have each other as built in play mates, I know how good it is to socialize them with other kids and in other surroundings. I am looking forward to doing this not only for the boys, but to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. Taking them places is hard, just getting harder, so this is the perfect way to start easing in. I just hope that it continues to go as well as our first attempt.