Dear Sibling of a Child with Special Needs,
I like to see the bright side of things, and that means for you too. When you say you’re more resilient than your friends, I think “Yeah, that’s right, that’s from all the crap you’ve been through!”
Then I think about it. Man, you have been through some serious crap. Of course you’re resilient, resilience is a matter of survival. You’re more empathetic and certainly more accepting of people from every possible background, but of late, I’ve been wondering about the cost. You had no say in this, we’re just the family you wound up in, but I want you to know that we see your struggles.
When people at your school use the word “retard” and don’t understand why it bugs you, we see you.
When you feel like we don’t have the time or energy for you or your problems, we see you.
When your friends have no idea what your family or Down syndrome or autism or cancer are like, we see you.
When we miss your school events because there isn’t enough of us to go around, we see you.
When you feel like all of our hopes and dreams for a typical child are your responsibility to fulfill, we see you.
When your siblings meltdown in public and it feels like there’s a giant spotlight on our family and the whole world is watching, we see you.
When you’re shoved to the back burner, even on your own special occasions, because their needs are constantly pressing, we see you.
When every single holiday and special occasion has to be planned around them instead of you, we see you.
When emergencies happen and we expect you to take on adult responsibilities at a moment’s notice, we see you.
When you’re bummed that we don’t want to go out to do “normal” things as a family because it’s just too much effort, we see you.
When I’m busy on the phone and email day after day and it seems like I’m a full time case manager instead of a mom, we see you.
And I want you to know how much I admire you when you rise to the occasion, which you so often do. You are resilient, and that makes me so very proud. And I want you to know that when you feel sullen and frustrated and invisible, that I get it, (even if I get frustrated back). I want you to know how valuable and wonderful and beautiful you are. I want you to know that you matter, even though I’m often too frazzled to show it. I want you to know that I see you and hear you and love you. I wish I showed it more and I wish I showed it better.