Celebrating the little moments
As a parent of a child with disability, it’s easy to always be on the lookout for the next big milestone instead of celebrating the little moments.
It’s often hard to remember to celebrate the little moments in life, especially if your child isn’t reaching their milestones and the gap is widening with their peers. It’s easy to always be looking towards the next gain and focusing on the big goals instead of cherishing the small wins.
In fact, a recent survey conducted by Bupa suggests it can be the little moments that help build meaningful connection.
When my son was little, and he received a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, my mind immediately jumped to the future and whether he’d walk. It turned out I’d have a long wait to see him walking with assistance, let alone walking independently. And speech has never come as his main form of communication. Being a parent to my son has been an incredible reminder to enjoy the little moments.
It took me a long time to stop constantly looking ahead. I’ve learnt to pause and appreciate every small gain, and to savour those moments. The smallest progress is reason to celebrate. Once I realised this, there was reason to feel encouraged each day.
There’s joy when I ask my son a question and occasionally I get a “Yeah”, or even when I see him turning on a light switch. It’s difficult for him to make a purposeful sound and isolating a finger takes great concentration. These are all things most parents take for granted, but for me, these are moments to celebrate. Learning these skills has taken hard work on my son’s part and persistence from us as parents.
When our daughter was born we were unsure how a sibling relationship would develop when there was an age gap of seven years and an inevitable difference in abilities. It turns out there was no reason to be concerned as they are closely bonded and over the years we’ve seen our daughter learn to appreciate the little moments as well. Cuddling on the lounge watching television together has always been a favourite activity but one day my daughter called out, “Brady hugged me!” Even at such a young age she understood the co-ordination needed to complete that loving gesture and the moment didn’t pass unnoticed. When road tripping, there was contained excitement in the back of the car when my son held my daughter’s hand. The little moment appreciated because it’s hard for him to maintain a relaxed hand.
It’s a long time between big achievements with my son and strangely sometimes the things most parents dread is what I’ve craved. Getting into mischief is easy if a child is mobile but my son was around 3 years old before he could move by shuffling on his bottom. I was delighted one day to find him sitting with a whole box of tissues emptied around him. Not only had he coordinated pulling them out of the box, but he’d got into mischief for the first time. A photo worthy little moment!
Families are generally busy, but when we add in the rigours of therapy and doctor’s appointments it’s vital we take the time as a family to do simple things to strengthen our bonds. Going for an accessible walk, playing a board game or going for a swim gives us time together to enjoy our family.
Sharing and appreciating all these little moments has fostered a strong family bond meaning we celebrate the small gains, which sometimes adds up to a bigger one. My son didn’t take unassisted steps until he was 18 years old but we were all there to cheer him on. Although fantastic, I’m so glad we remembered to enjoy the little moments along the way.