Friday, January 10, 2014

My (Latest) Big Mommy Mistake

As I was feeding Owen yesterday, the Lord opened my eyes to an important realization.

Ready for it?

Here goes....some honesty from this mama....

Owen was never going to learn to feed himself because I never give him the opportunity.


Talk about a reality check.  I had made another big Mommy mistake!  And after apologizing to Owen, I've been working on fixing my mistake.

Before we jump into my future plans, let me take a step backwards.  Owen used to be really good at finger feeding.  He was even working on using a spoon.  His OT was a great help in this area!

And then, the battle with seizures began. When we started the keto diet, we were told by the dietician not to do much work on self-feeding because every bite was essential.  Owen was not a particularly neat eater.  So when his meal is being weighed in grams (and not very many of them), he had to eat everything.  We went back to feeding him.

2012 was a really hard year for Owen.  We thought we were losing him.  And it's hard to encourage self-feeding when you think you are experiencing your last days together.  There were just so many other urgent items to attend to.

But now, the Lord saw us through 2013 without any major health problems for Owen.  No hospital stays, or even ER visits!  We are out of the woods so to speak.  But I've been holding Owen back.  I've been babying him.  And he is 7 years old. 

The Lord reminded me of that fact yesterday.  And I realized that it's time to start encouraging independence again and begin preparing for Owen's future.  A future where he might outlive his parents and need to have as many skills as possible.  

It's time to start dreaming for Owen and having high expectations again.  We've been down in the valley for too long.  It's time to climb some mountains!

So there you have it.  My big mommy mistake.

Here's my plan.  If you have other ideas, I'd love to hear them.  I know that Owen is capable of SO much more than I currently expect.

1.  Lunch will be self-feed practice only.
     *I will use large pieces (not choking size--but 7 year old size instead of little baby) of flavorful, enjoyable food.
    * I will provide a variety of textures and tastes to encourage eating.
    * I will make utensils available, but I will not fight him about using them.
     * I will not stress about the mess.  I don't stress about the mess when babies are learning to feed themselves.  I don't not give them the opportunity because they may be messy.  Owen deserves the same.
Owen's lunch for today.  We went to the library and were late for lunch, so we just had sandwiches.  Instead of making Owen a sandwich, I cut up the components and gave him a fun plate.  Sydney and Ellie decided they wanted this style too.

2.  Breakfast and Dinner will be a combination of self-feed and being fed.  Overtime, we'll transition to more self-feed and wean out me feeding him.  Until then, this will ensure that he's actually getting calories in his mouth.

3.  For now...I will feed Owen the little bit of food I use with his morning and evening meds.  I call it medicine instead of food anyways (we usually use applesauce or yogurt with the meds on top).  I don't let my other kids get their meds themselves, so this will be okay.

Owen exploring his banana yesterday for afternoon snack.  More of it got to his mouth than I thought would.  Yes.  It was a mess.  But without the mess, he won't master self-feeding.

4.  I will offer more calorie intensive drinks for Owen.  He is completely independent with a Tummy Tickler (highly recommend those!) and will be able to drink as needed.  Eggnog is something he used to love.  Chocolate milk is another favorite.  His weight has been decreasing a bit lately, so this will hopefully help.  Walking burns some calories!!!

5.  I will raise my expectations for Owen in other areas.   I will expect him to participate in our family life instead of just being a spectator.  I have come up with two concrete examples, and have other thoughts bubbling in my mind. 
     *He will help wipe the table for table chore time.
     *He will sit at the table or on the couch with us during Bible time instead of playing.

6.  I will continue working with Owen on potty training.  I began when he was 14 months old.  He was pretty good at holding it until I remembered to take him (remember he can't talk...).  Then I kind of missed the boat on this one with all the medical issues.

He's been holding it more and more.  My big cue that he is ready to stop being in diapers.  I think it'll go quick.  I'll probably still use the diapers at night (at least for a while) until he is consistently staying dry.

I think he'll be in underwear during the day within a month.  He's motivated right now.  We're going to pick out some big boy underwear next Friday when we go to town.  I have no idea what sort of design he'll pick.  Will definitely be a new experience!

*I know that accidents will happen.  When they happen with the other kids, I don't put them back in diapers.  I clean it up and we talk about using the potty and we move on.  Again--Owen deserves the same.  He actually deserves more since he can't tell me he has to go potty and we have the bathroom gated off so he can't just go himself.  He depends on me to take him in there...

My boy is growing up.  He'll be 8 in a few months.  He's not a baby anymore.  And it's time for this mom to allow him some freedom and to encourage independence. 

Spread your wings Owen.  Show me what you can do!

Linked up to: Raising Arrows


  1. I don't have children with special needs, but I have made the mistake of expecting too little! With my first, I delayed letting him self-feed for a year because I could not afford to have food spilled on the floor. It made eating incredibly stressful for all of us that year, and there were many times when he refused to eat anything for over 48 hours. He only broke his fast when I literally force fed him. He still (four years later) has a love-hate relationship with food, and he does not eat for pleasure. But he's doing pretty well, all things considered.

    My advice about food is not to give him things that are crumbly. If it can fall apart in his hands or on the table, it will not wind up in his mouth. That's a mess for you and a frustration for him.

    I also just finished potty-training my second, after life intervened to keep us from finishing that task multiple times last year. My big lesson on that one was to let him go in pants without underwear at first. It let him feel "naked" enough that he remembered to go while teaching him to wear clothes. Once he got the hang of remembering to go while wearing pants, it was really easy to add in the undies. When we had initially tried going from naked time to undies, he immediately had accidents and was too embarrassed to want to try wearing underwear again.

    Good luck!

    1. Thank you so much for your response and recommendations! I will have to give the pants only one a try. Thanks!


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