I’m a fantastic mother to my daughter, Willow. But, she’s not my only child. I have two others. And sadly, I can’t say the same for them.
I’m sure most people would assume parenting Willow is a challenge because of her Down syndrome. Throw in the fact that she’s had some health struggles and has just entered her “terrible two’s” and I can understand that assumption. Except it’s wrong. I’ve got this whole special needs parenting thing down. I can manage the therapies, the doctor appointments, the food battles and tantrums. Unfortunately, that’s about all I can manage. There’s nothing left for the others.
They have names. My 8-year old son, Laken got his during a long road trip. My husband and I were throwing out name possibilities for a boy and I just started naming things I saw out my window. “Tree, bush, garbage, lake. Lake! Lake-n. LAKEN!” And that was that.
My 6-year old daughter, Bella got her name back when we were kid-less and free. My husband and I took an amazing trip to Italy and fell in love with the word “bella,” which means “beautiful.” It seemed to fit when we saw our daughter’s face for the first time.
I love all 3 of my children. They are each unique and dear to my heart. There’s definitely no shortage of love. But, patience and time are another matter. When it comes to being a mom, I can honestly say that I give it my all. But sadly, that isn’t enough most days. Time doesn’t just magically appear, which makes patience all the more difficult to track down. I often burn up all my energy on Willow, leaving nothing behind for the others. It’s not fair. But, it’s reality.
I’ve read lots of stories and have even seen research showing siblings of individuals with Down syndrome are generally more happy with life. Most say they wouldn’t change a thing and that they are better people thanks to their special siblings.
I wonder what those people think about their moms. Did their moms yell at them out of exhaustion and frustration? Did their mothers struggle to give them the attention they deserved? Are they better people because they’ve learned to roll with the punches, fend for themselves and deal with over-tired stressed out maniacs?
I wish I knew how to manage it all. I wish I knew how to hold my cool. I wish I knew how to show my kids that yes, your sister gets more of me, but that doesn’t make you “less than.” And, I wish I had a crystal ball to show me that my kids will one day say that they’re better people because of this journey we’re on. Lord, I pray that’s the case. Because right now, it seems so unfair, and almost impossible to show the others that while they might feel last on my list, they’ll always be my first loves.