If I were brave. Even half as courageous as you are. If I had the words to tell you. If you were old enough to understand. I would tell you…
You were my first born, my one and only. For two beautiful years, it was just me and you. We had times of difficulty that’s for sure but we were inseparable. I adored you then like I adore you now. You’ve grown just like my love for you. I was not long 19 years of age when I had you that bitterly cold February morning. 14 hours of sweat, tears and pain. A traumatic and terrifying birth with a happy ending. You made me a mother and opened my eyes. It was you who made me see what life is really about. Everything that mattered to me before you were born became insignificant. Two years later your brother was born. You were over the moon and you loved him as much as I hoped you would. Did I cherish you enough in those two years before your brother was born? Did I soak up every little bit of you? Your little fingers and toes, the smell of your freshly washed hair after bath time, the dimples in your cheeks when you smiled at me? Was I everything you would wish a mother to be and more? I hope so.
I’M ALWAYS HERE FOR YOU
I know a lot of my time and attention is taken up by your younger brothers. We do get plenty of moments together although you don’t always see it, especially when you are cross with me. Those times you have snuck into our bed in the early hours of the morning for a cuddle, I could’ve just sent you back to your bed. I could’ve gone back to sleep myself but heck, its little moments like those I grab with the palms of my hands and a heart full of love. For that small moment, it’s just me and you again, you’re not that 6 year old little boy. Big. Stroppy. Independent. You’re not the little boy with attitude and style, who worries what their friends at school might think. You’re my baby and I will hold you for as long as you will let me. For in that moment, for whatever reason, you needed me.
Being a special needs sibling means that eyes are not all on you all of the time. It means that you had to grow up that little bit quicker than anybody else of your age. More is expected of you. It means compromises. There’s a hard pill for me as your parent to swallow. That awful thing called mother guilt. The did I’s? The should I’ve’s? The what if’s? I feel that a lot of the time. You get frustrated and act out because sometimes life is just so unfair. I agree with you. I understand whole heartedly. Your little brother loves to win, it is almost an obsession he has no control over. He has to be the first one to get to the bottom of the stairs in the morning. He has to be the first one to pour the milk in his cereal. The first one to get dressed. The first one out the door. The first one to reach the road we are about to cross. The first to be read a story to. Is this my fault? Did I pander to this behaviour? Maybe. It’s something we work at together. A lot of the time you will let your little brother win just to save an argument. You let your brother win because you know that if he gets upset in the morning, it takes an entire day to calm him down. Sometimes, just sometimes you think FORGET THIS! JUST ONCE! I want to be first today! You race your brother and win. You watch him collapse in a hot tempered heap on the floor. You watch as I pick him up exasperated, knowing he is full throttle from now. What you did wasn’t wrong. You just wanted to be a normal child. You wanted to win. I understand you.
YOU ARE SO LOVED
You didn’t predict you’d be, nor know how to be a big brother, let alone to be the big brother twice over. They look up to you, they do. I see the way they look at you. Nothing but admiration and adoration. They follow you around, they always want to be where you are, wanting to watch what you’re doing. They want to be just like you! This annoys you. You’re growing into a proper little boy now, you aren’t interested in all that baby stuff. You like Lego and Pokémon, not trains and dinosaurs. You need space. It is only because they love you, someday you’ll see.
I cannot express in words how much you mean to me. You can have the weight of the world on your shoulders and always be up for a challenge. Challenging you can be, but without challenge, there would be no lesson learnt. You make me proud with each and everyday that passes. Thank you for being the big brother I know they will always look up to. Thank you for being the Son you are. Thank you for being the person I always knew you were capable of being.
TO MY SPECIAL NEEDS SIBLING…
Nobody warned us that we would be a family with special needs. At no definitive point did it become apparent to us that we are the family with a special needs child. To be honest, it still doesn’t. This is our life, we don’t know anything else, we don’t have anything to compare it to. Would I change us for the world? Absolutely not!
Someone recently told me “our ‘special needs’ children were given to us for a reason, and that reason being; we love them unconditionally and we have the ability and fight in us to support them, to have the life they so deserve and to be happy.”
You couldn’t get closer to the truth