A perspective on the world of disability from a mother and an educator. Follow my blog!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Belated Father's Day

Fathers Day was last Sunday here in Australia and as my Bear's gift wasn't happening until today I thought I'd hold of on a Fathers Day blog. I'm sure by now you've picked up on our love of gardening (if not, where have you been?). Since this time last year our veggie patch has doubled in size, as has our brood of chickens! Our cottage garden is coming together with a wisteria covered arbour nearly finished as the entry to our house and yard. As a Fathers Day gift this year I organised a consultation with our good friend Clint, a well respected and award winning landscaper. There is only so much advice you can ask out of friendship before you need to make it official! I think it did a world of good to hear that the garden that was built from scratch was spot on for design.
Planning out a dry creek bed for the Australian 
native garden out the back. 

So as these two fine men wondered our vast estate (1/4 acre) and discussed designs, revamps and maintenance I thought it timely to write about a father's role in life of a child with a disability, at least from the perspective of a mother!

Our girls play area will get a wrap around seating for their stage.    We were first introduced to Orpington chickens by Clint.

I remember my Bear being hit hard by the diagnosis the day after Imogen was born, and since then he has worked tirelessly to give her whatever she needed, though at times I know I have been guilty of overlooking his contribution.  In the early days he barely got to see Imogen as his responsibilities at work took so many hours. He'd leave for work before she woke and he'd come home after she went to bed. While I was there doing the intensive physiotherapy for hours each day and running around to specialists and early intervention, Bear was busting a gut to make sure no expense was out of our reach. 18 months of that really took its toll though and we learnt that we needed a more combined focus and effort.

In the beginning there were specific fatherhood dreams that my Bear held and so quickly we had to toss them aside and learn not to expect anything, but to take each day as it comes. Low and behold the daddy daughter trips to the cinema are a reality, as is sharing a love of Astrix and Dr Who and teaching her how to use power tools. There is a very special and unique bond between them, but it is something that takes a lot of time and energy.

There are times when I can see the worry on his face as plain as day and I'm sure many parents feel hobbled and powerless when their child is struggling. I'm sure many fathers feel like the only thing they can contribute is a wage and that was how my Bear felt for a long time. One thing that has really helped us is both of us working part time. When consumed by a full time job we have both been guilty of having little energy left to invest in our family. Now we have a perfect balance happening where as a father he no longer feels disconnected.

We have it sorted with each of us covering different elements and we've become specialists in our fields. I look after classroom adjustments and outside service providers and Bear takes care of allied health (physio, podiatrist etc) and specialists like the pediatrician and endocrinologist. I look after diet and he looks after physical activity. I organise her social life while my Bear does homework. For us the division of labour has worked, but it does require excellent communication to make sure we have everything covered. Good communication itself is something that requires effort and maintenance. 

Considering we started with a bare block we've come a long way. We also started parenting with no knowledge of life with a disability.

Building a beautiful place for use all to retreat to is a project we have been working on for years and we are really starting to see and enjoy the fruits of our labours. I guess that goes not just for our garden, but building our little family. 

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