I’ve been meaning to write this one for a while now, but I’ve also been avoiding it. It hurts my heart to think about and I’ve been sifting through emotions trying to get it out. In the process I’ve talked to several people who have a sibling with autism. The general consensus is, they wouldn’t change the autism, but they have sacrificed because of it.
Kalli and I have had several heart to heart conversations about this and she’s confirmed what I already knew. She feels slighted some days. Most days probably. But she understands, so she just deals with it the best way her 12 year old brain knows how. For me as a parent, that’s not good enough.
We didn’t expect her to come when we were so young. We definitely didn’t plan it, but she literally is the reason we are a family. Because of her, we’ve had ten years of good memories and laughs. She has grown from a beautiful baby, to a silly little girl and now a beautiful and graceful young woman. I don’t deserve her understanding or the grace she gives me everyday. But let’s get real here. She’s hurting. She feels left out. Sometimes she feels like we love Weston more than her. I can tell her all day long that it’s not true, because it’s ten thousand percent not, but that doesn’t sway the emotion. Words don’t change how we feel sometimes.
From the day she was old enough that her little personality started to peek through, she has been such an incredibly independent person. She never wanted to sleep in my bed as a baby. She wanted her bed, with her head on the left side of the crib, her stuffed animal and the blanket over her face. When she was old enough to hold a spoon, she didn’t want my help anymore. Once she started walking, she wanted to get where she was going without holding my hand. That’s just who she has always been. So when Weston came along and demanded more of our attention, we fell into what seemed to be a natural dynamic. He required our attention and she was independent. I forgot to take the time to ensure she was ok. To check in with her more often than I thought she needed. To climb in her bed with her just to chat. During the early days of Weston’s diagnosis I was exhausted by the end of the long days after not sleeping. I welcomed my bed and hurriedly tucked her into hers. I didn’t take the time to see how her day was. To hear about the events that happened at school. Even though it was kid drama it’s important to her. I’m her momma, I’m supposed to be her sounding board and I haven’t been a very good one.
The other day we were sitting at the kitchen table and she said something that absolutely shattered my heart. “Yeah when I’m sick you tell me I’m fine but when Weston is sick you always make sure he is comfortable and spoiled.” I didn’t mean to do that. I didn’t mean to show favoritism. There is no favoritism. I love them both with every single ounce of my being, she’s just easier. I never had to worry about whether she would grow into a successful and thriving adult. I never had to worry about whether she would be considered the weird kid. She had all of the social skills she needed and she is so incredibly intelligent and gorgeous. I mean the girl never even went through that weird awkward phase we all seemed to drudge through. The things that crossed my mind in regards to Weston’s future were never even a blip on the radar for her and because of that I dropped the ball.
I always try to talk about the good things; the progress and positive side of autism. This isn’t one of those. This is the hard stuff. The raw stuff. The real side of things people don’t talk about. By making sure my autistic son had what he needed, I neglected to make sure my other kid was okay. That’s not okay.
I’ve really been fighting the lie Satan has been feeding into me that I’ve completely failed her as a parent. That she is completely screwed up because of me. I KNOW that’s not true and I pray words of life over her and our relationship daily. But the thought lingers. Never in my entire life would I ever want her to feel like she is less than, not enough, or too much of anything. I know God’s grace has this covered and I pray He would keep a reminder in the forefront of my mind to never make her feel a single ounce less important than she is. Her knowing her true worth and value can only come from Him. I just pray that He would give me the insight and tools to instill that in her. To make conscious decisions to remind her daily. To take the time to spend one on one time with her because it’s so important.
I know I’m not the only special needs mom that deals with this. It’s so common. Every one talks about the mom guilt, but there is so much more to it when you’re fighting to keep a balance between a child who requires more of you than another. So next time you say your prayers, please keep this one on your list. It’s a tough battle full of heartache and guilt. None of which are from God. We KNOW this and yet we fight daily.