I remember it so vividly, we were at a plant nursery, it was a warm day, we had finished looking around and were heading back to the car. It wouldn’t have been more than a 100m walk but it took more than half and hour to reach the car. Jack protested the entire way, he would take a few steps then slump to the footpath, take a few more steps then drop to the ground again.
It took every fibre in me to remain calm and patient. ‘Mummy, carry ME!’ he screamed over and over. ‘You can take a rest if you are tired, and I will rest with you, and then we will walk back to the car together.’ I repeated again and again. He wasn’t in pain, at least I don’t think he was, he was just used to us carrying him. This was the day we stopped carrying Jack.
I was reminded of this day today as I watched the two of them play at the park. It was about 7 months ago, around the time of Jack’s 3rd birthday. Jack was in the middle of intensive early intervention therapy and his physiotherapist wanted to work on Jack’s strength and stamina. The best way to do this, she suggested, was to stop carrying him. We’d take it slowly, just short walks to start with, but he was to walk.
This was a huge change for all of us and one which took a lot of discipline; no more prams, no more carrying. Jack would walk by himself. The rhythm of our days needed to change to ensure Jack was supported, that he was given time to build up his stamina. It took time.
Half a year has passed since then. And as I sat and watched the kids play happily without me, I realised just how far Jack has come. From a boy who struggled to walk 50m without help to one today who, as I watched with my heart in my throat, climbed the bridge, persevering until he made it to the top, all by himself.