Many evenings after my children have gone to bed, I find myself curled up with a blanket and my iPad. I peruse the many brilliant ideas and photos posted on Pinterest, respond to email, and of course check out what’s new on social media. I came across a quote that a friend had posted: “We cripple people who are capable of walking because we choose to carry them.”- Christine Williams.
This quote really had me thinking about my role as a new mother of two and a speech therapist. I wear both hats, but often at separate times. I too have been guilty of “carrying” my children when they were capable of “walking.” As a therapist, I have a completely different mind set when it comes to the students I treat. I am not quick to predict communicative intentions, I do not try to avoid making a scene or having a meltdown, and I would not do something for a student just to spare being late or falling out of a routine. However; when I am wearing my “Mom” hat, I mindlessly pass my child the sippy cup of milk for which he is grunting, I hand my child a second lollipop to avoid being a hot mess in public, and I put my child’s coat on and zipper it for her so that we are not late for the surprise birthday party.
I remember having an “ah ha” moment when my second child went from signing and using single words to request desired actions/ objects to yelling and grunting. I couldn’t understand why he had regressed. It all became clear as I handed over the cracker as he was screaming to calm him down. Oh, it was me reinforcing that if you scream, you will be given what you want. It was that moment that I realized I had to wear both hats at the same time.
I began being both a therapist and a mother being flexible and approaching each situation uniquely. Instead of clipping the seat belt for my daughter when we were headed out on a leisurely errand, I would wait for her and let her do it herself. Instead of passing over the milk to a cranky one-year old, I would wait for a sign, initial sound, or word before the coveted cup was handed out. I learned to be more patient and wait with my own children. I no longer anticipated needs to make my life easier.
That being said, there is a realistic component to wearing both hats. I do have to get to work on time, there are days where I am tired or sick, or it is just not the place or time to have my child throw a fit. So yes, there are still times where I do things for my children to make that moment, that day, our life easier. It is a balance of knowing when to push and encourage verses keeping your sanity.
Being a parent has given me tremendous insight into being a better therapist. When parents and teachers ask what they can do to help the child, I feel compelled to provide that sage quote and encourage “walking” as much as possible, knowing that there will be days when everyone needs to be “carried.”
- Emily, SLP & Mama