Dear Special Needs Sibling,
It’s not easy being you. Period.
I know it feels as if your needs are never put first. As your parent, it’s gut-wrenching to have to make decisions that are vital to your sibling’s health and well-being, but may leave you feeling like you don’t matter as much. Sometimes you cry, occasionally you are angry, and at times you protest, yet when all is said and done, you handle it with a grace that far exceeds your years. I admire you.
You know nothing else in this life other than being a helper. It’s likely you don’t remember a time when you weren’t a special needs sibling. Offering to lend a hand just comes second nature to you. While still a child yourself, you know: how to operate a feeding pump, just how to orient a nurse who’s new to our home, the perfect distraction to calm your sibling amidst a meltdown, and where all the medical/emergency supplies are located. This has created a servant’s heart in you which is beautiful to behold. YOU are special, too.
Having a sibling with a disability has ingrained in you a bit more patience and kindness than most of your peers possess. Not only are you a wonderful sibling, you’re also a fantastic friend. Taking up for the underdog and making sure everyone gets a turn are just things you do naturally. Witnessing how loving and inclusive you are when at play with other children is enough to make me burst with pride. I am in awe of you.
Our family life is rarely predictable. One minute we are enjoying a family dinner, and the next I could be headed to the hospital with your sibling. You are shuttled off to spend the night (or two or three) with friends. When this happens, we all miss each other terribly. You take it in stride because you have no other choice. You display a strength that no child should have to. You amaze me.
Oftentimes I feel unworthy of being your parent, and like I may be failing you. There’s simply not enough of me to go around, I’m afraid. However, I see who you are now and who you are becoming, and I could not be more proud. Being your parent is an incredible honor.
These are some of the things I wish for you:
- I pray that I am able, at some point in this life, to do for you a fraction of what you have done for your sibling and me.
- I pray that being a special needs sibling makes you an adult who is equal parts tough and sensitive- tough enough to stand your ground, yet sensitive enough to truly consider how your words and actions affect others. (You’re already well on your way with this one.)
- I pray that with all you’ve hopefully learned and taken away from being a part of this family, you will set out on your own course and be your own person independent of us. However, I also pray that you’ll always be there for your sibling if they truly need you. (I know you will.)
- Most of all, I pray that your future is absolutely filled to the brim with all of the happiness you deserve (which is A TON). There is so much to love in this life and I just pray that you will soak it all up!
My darling child, words can not express just how much you mean to me. I can’t imagine a life without you. You are so important and valued!
You complete us.