I’d always wanted a bunch of kids.
But when we learned our secondborn had developmental disabilities, the unplanned diagnosis gave us pause.
My life already was consumed trying to meet this child's every need. How could I have another?
Turns out, having another (and another) was not a problem, but an answer. Bringing home a new baby forced me to focus on something other than one child’s disability. It brought back balance to our family. It taught me that when my hands were full, I could let them help.
Crazy as it seems, expanding the family was the right move for us. A blessing, all around.
Recently I asked my three young adult children about their thoughts and feelings on growing up with a sister with special needs.
First words out of their mouths:
“It’s my normal.”
“I don’t know anything different.”
“No big deal.”
So I pried. Tell me more about the pros and cons.
“Seriously, Mom, it’s no big deal.”
Spoken like young adults. But when they were youngsters, they voiced amusing advantages:
“We can tap into her money to buy a new toy. It’ll be for the whole family, I promise.”
“We can go right to the front of the line at Cedar Point when she’s with us. Don’t worry, Mom. She’s gonna love the roller coasters.”
“We get extra turns playing video games. We just unplug her joystick and she doesn’t know the difference. She's happy just playing with us.”
She is, and they are too. Her siblings defy her disabilities and simply fill her life with fun times. In return, their empathy and kindness muscles get a good workout, making them stronger and better human beings.
The scrapbook of my mind is dotted with indelible images of the love they share for this sister:
Older brother, always and everywhere holding her hand. Guardian angel.
Little sister, treating her as if she didn't have special needs at all, reminding me with emphasis, “There’s no reason she can’t pick up her side of the bedroom,” while proceeding to straighten both sides. Harumph!
Younger brother, nonchalantly volunteering when we need a babysitter for her. If the chance to go out with his friends materializes, he just takes her with him. No big deal.
Ah, but it is.