Dear daughter,

I feel like I should apologize. There are a million apologies I could list out for which you’d be more than deserving.

Like the times you’ve had to sit through countless office visits trying to read or play quietly so your brother could get what he needed from his specialist, therapist, or doctor.

Or all of the times you’ve been caught in the firestorm of times when he struggles to articulate his feelings and it comes out as hurling insults, books, or even fists or feet.

And I’ll never forget the time we were asked to leave the grocery store, not even having made it past the produce section, because of a meltdown he was having that was so unbelievably epic that employees and shoppers came running to our cart by the bananas.

Or when we tried for two days to go see the Christmas lights but your brother just couldn’t make it without so many behaviors it almost brought me to my knees. I LOVE holiday traditions and I cried when we couldn’t go. And then, it was you crying tears of disappointment.

But I know you aren’t sorry. Although you aren’t mature enough to fully understand yet, your fearlessness and unwavering concern for your big brother no matter what is going on is a beautiful illustration of your love for him. 

You have kindness well beyond your years, sweet daughter.

I know you are proud to be his little sister and I know you, too, will fiercely protect and advocate for him and other kids like him. 

You are strong and wise, mighty girl.

I know all big brothers can be stinky nerds sometimes, but the extra challenges your brother faces don’t phase you. You are unafraid and unaffected by his differences. In fact, you look up to him and you WANT to be in his corner cheering him on and being his teammate.

You are accepting and encouraging, little one.

It is the pressure that the world puts on mamas to treat their kids equally that makes me feel so guilty and apologetic. But I am not sorry for your brother’s diagnosis. His brain is wired differently but he teaches me incredible lessons every single day. God humbles me raising each of you.

I don’t parent you the same because you aren’t the same child. Your needs are inherently as different as your personalities and hair color and sense of style.

I am so unbelievably grateful to raise your big brother, sweet girl, but you . . . you are a warrior. You teach me how to love without condition, how to accept everyone, how to embrace differences with love and excitement. You show me that loving someone starts with their needs and how, even in the face of unfathomable frustration and pain, to look for their good.

So, I guess I’m only sorry for ever letting anything make me feel sorry. You, my girl, will one day do very, very big things with your story. You will touch hearts and change lives because of your strength. Your words will impact people and comfort them so they don’t feel alone. 

My girl, I could never tell you how needed your love for your brother is in this world. For that, I’m not sorry. I am grateful.

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Brynn Burger

Mental health advocate, extreme parent, lover of all things outdoors, and sometimes a shell of my former self. Parenting a child with multiple behavior disabilities has become both my prison and my passion. I write so I can breathe. I believe that God called me to share, with violent vulnerability and fluent sarcasm, our testimony to throw a lifeline to other mamas who feel desperate to know they aren't alone. I laugh with my mouth wide open, drink more cream than coffee, and know in my spirit that queso is from the Lord himself. Welcome!