I have read and written several things about raising my disabled son. I don’t ever talk about the challenges I face raising my daughter. The majority of my time goes to my son. Add in the fact that I’m divorced and doing all of this on my own, I have even less time for my daughter.
She just turned 5, but I talk to her about my son and his diagnoses. Why I have to give him so much attention. I know she understands but that doesn’t make it easier to deal with. I make sure to take time just for her. I often times worry it isn’t enough.
My top concern is that she doesn’t feel as important. Her brother got to ride horses, go swimming, participate in events and play with fun people. Those were all therapies, but her perception is that he is having fun that she can’t participate in. That’s hard to explain to a small child. Luckily at some of the therapy centers she has made some friends (children with disabilities and their siblings).
I rarely get to attend events at her school. I take so many days off for my son’s appointments, meetings at his school or sick kids, it’s hard to take more time off. I remember the look on her face when I would explain why I couldn’t go. It was heartbreaking. But what’s even worse is that she just assumes I can’t go now.
At home, by default, my son gets the majority of my time. He needs assistance with all self-care activities (eating, using the bathroom, bathing, etc). Throw in the fact that I have to cook dinner and lay things out for the next morning, the time left is minimal. I try to make time just for her where I can. Luckily she likes to help cook.
That is the perfect lead-in to my next concern. 90% of the time when the kids are with me, it’s just the three of us. So, often times, I don’t ask Laney to help with something because I’m trying to teach her responsibility. It’s because I need her help. I wish I didn’t. I’m so worried I am forcing her to grow up too fast. At the end of the day, there isn’t a lot I can do about this one. Being aware helps.
While I know it is hard on her sometimes, having a brother with disabilities, she loves her brother more than anything in the world. She knows him better than anyone, including myself. The compassion she shows my son carries through to the rest of her relationships. She is quick to give hugs and compliments. I hope to grow up to be more like her. 🙂