Saturday, June 26, 2010

not a burden

This weekend we are down one child, as Noel has gone off the cabin with his grandparents. I miss him fiercely, which I find somewhat funny, as five minutes before they picked him up I was beyond annoyed with him.

Similar to Ellen's post a few days ago about getting out and having a relaxing meal with one's typical children, we are getting a solid taste of what it would be like to have only Holland. And it sure is sweet.

If I set aside the missing him (not easy, I tell you) and focus only on having to be mommy to Holland, life is a cakewalk. One (fairly compliant) child to dress in the morning. One meal to coax into one mouth. One person who wants cuddles, rather than two who are arguing over the limited space in my lap. No conflicted feelings about giving uneven amounts of attention. And the big things - no epic emotional meltdowns. No sensory seeking acrobatics in the living room. No concerns over switching up the routine and causing someone major anxiety.

We can all admit this: It is easier to have a typical child than it is to have a child with demanding needs. It is easier to have one child than it is to have two. Feel guilty about it if, if you must, but also, relish the mini break. It will make a you better parent in the end.

But what is really striking to me is how 22 month old Holland is taking in this brother free weekend. While I would imagine it would be so nice (play with ALL the toys! get all the attention!), she pauses several times in her day just to call his name. To round a corner to see if he might be there. She wants him to be there. She misses him.

The other day, in the midst of a meltdown, Holland attempted to comfort Noel and earned an unforgiving shove from him. She flew backwards and fell hard. She was so upset by this that she cried until her breath was hard to find in between racking sobs. I cried with her, because I felt so overwhelmingly guilty. In that moment, I had done this to her - I chose to have a second child, and so I gave her this burden. A brother who was unpredictable at best, sometimes violent, emotionally unstable and rigid in routines. I gave her a sibling who she would feel she had to care for, all the days of her life. And it was so unfair of me to do this to her. (Set aside that when she was born we were still a year away from diagnosis)

But the reality has come clearer this weekend. In truth, she adores him and idolizes him and would be lost without him. She keeps calling his name, looking for him in empty rooms. He is not her burden, he's her brother. He's all she's ever known. Sure, when she gets older, she may resent him, however briefly. She may wish for a typical brother like the ones her friends have. She may be embarassed by him or annoyed by him, but at the heart of things, she has never had any other expectations for him, like we had for our newborn baby boy. Holland has never thought a brother might be any different than the one she has. 

I have to admit, I'm a bit jealous.



  1. I have two boys both with aspergers. When the younger one was little he was the older ones protector and champion. What happens when they grow is that they become their own people, with their own personalitites.The love each other, but as with all siblings they lead their own lives. Yes. your daughter will possibly have an older sibling to care for as they get older, but isn't that what family is supposed to do anyway? I care for my parents and siblings. They in turn care for me and my family.I don't know when we in society got away from the idea that we are to take care of those closest to us? I s she going to have a period that she resents her older brother? Possibly and possibly not. But then, when she's a teen the persons she will resent the most are her parents, trust me....

  2. Brother love is strong. And so is your daughter. How sweet that she goes looking for him when he/'s not there!

  3. I really needed to hear that I wasn't the only one feeling this way today. Thank You