Today is national middle child day! Isn't it just like us middle children to have a day to claim as our own!! I have a special connection with my middle child. Maybe it's because we share the same role in our family, maybe it's because he's a super cool boy, or maybe it's because he seemed to need me a little more than his big sister did. I feel pretty darn lucky to get to be his momma and I am glad God was able to put us on the same wave length.
I am so drawn to Oliver. He has both the quirks of Clay and I, which can make him quite the kid to figure out. The moment he was born, we just really connected. And I also realized I didn't have the whole parenting gig quite as figured out as I thought. Over the next year, Oliver and I ventured our way through doctor appointments, therapy appointments, and we all survived a season full of loud & endless cries, choking spells, and lack of sleep. We came out stronger, braver, and more smitten than ever.
The first few days of his life, his inherited quirks were already shining through. He didn't do well in over stimulating environments, he cried at too much talking, and he preferred weighted blankets... however this is before we knew about weighted blankets, so we stacked heavy pillows or stuffed animals on him. We've come so far! The crying would keep him up for hours at a time and Clay and I took turns walking the neighborhood just to find silence in our own home again. At about 6 months, he went on a specialized formula (EleCare). His little system need more gentleness and his body needed rest. We started seeing eye contact, snuggles, and stronger muscles. Therapy helped with things like sucking, eating, strength, speech, sensory, etc... and we loved our therapists.
Fast forward a few years.
He's now 4. My handsome kiddo is 4. He's a lot like he was as a baby, but of course smarter, faster, and even more charming. He's a big brother as well. He's so tender and loving, but also has his own ideas like adding a TV to his room because that would be "willy awesome." And the way he says it, makes you want to put up a flat screen TV on his wall right then and there. He is also sensitive beyond belief, a natural comedic without knowing it, solid and strong, and the best brother to his sisters. Plus he is by far the cleanest kid with the most organized room which earns big brownie points around here! Not to mention, he can name every Star Wars character. Every. One.
I can't really imagine Oliver being Oliver without his unique quirks. Since last year, we were able to put a name/diagnosis to it - Sensory Processing Disorder. It's nice that there's something to recognize what is going on in his brain and how to help him feel right in himself and in the world. It's nice to get validation as a parent that treating these high emotions as if it's just a tantrum is the worse thing we can do, because his brain is wired a little differently. The different techniques have been good for all of us and I am sure he is glad we have started to better figure out how to help him daily. One thing therapy taught me is that I was only putting him in a world that catered to him, clearing out obstacles, situations, tactiles that would provoke a big response, versus teaching him to adapt to the world around him. I think there can be a good balance of both, especially at a young age.
I see SPD daily, although most moments I don't realize it anymore. Oliver has taught me a lot. He paved his way for his sister to join our family through adoption and he's made me way less judgemental of other mommas. When I see a 4 year at the grocery store throwing a "tantrum," I know the ice cream melting and getting his shorts wet is a real problem to him. It's not a tougher mom he needs, it's a patient, more gentle mom he needs and I applaud her for understanding his emotions. When I take too long at the gas pump because Oliver's socks aren't put on right, I hope the person behind me is patient and sees the consideration I am giving my son versus her in that moment. I've learned that routine, preparing him for what's next, and lots of sensory time helps him feel balanced and regulated in life. It's become a pretty natural part of our days and conversations. I am honored to teach him to adapt to his world and know when it's okay for his world to adapt to him. I therapist called me a "helicopter mom" because I adapted this big giant world to him. I didn't apologize for that. I wanted to tell her, let our babies be babies. Let our SPD kids gradually cope to this busy, crazy world, because it's a process. I have learned a good balance though, but I have also learned we must put our children in successful situations to build confidence. I think Oliver's biggest successes have come from confidence building that his speech teacher helped ignite as well as his loving pre-school teachers and hopefully myself. Setting Oliver up for success with each new milestone and watching him grow is such a joy. Regardless of what challenges stay and which ones fade, my wish is he feels happy, centered and adored in life.
And oh man, is he ever adored. Jesus wove him together in ways that make my heart sing! Here's to all the quirky kids and certainly all the quirky middle children!! #quirkyiscool #nationalmiddlechildday