Raising children isn’t easy. Raising two children who are typically developing and one with multiple disabilities presents many complex issues: dealing with the demanding needs of one child, spending individual time with the other children and being together as a family.
My boys came into a world with an older sister whose own world revolved around therapies and medical appointments. Since I was a stay at home mom back then, they came everywhere with me. These experiences typically weren’t fun for them. They would see Gabrielle having fun playing with bubbles, shaving cream and balls, yet they could not understand why they couldn’t participate. Not much fun for a preschooler and infant.
As a young mom of three small children, I felt overwhelmed. When Jared or Jansen would ask me to play, often I was in the middle of dealing with Gabrielle’s seizures. I would respond with, “You need to wait, once the seizure has stopped then we can play.” When I would come to them later, they would say never mind. Their lives were put on pause often. That wasn’t fair to them but I didn’t know what else to do.
I was torn because while most of my focus was on Gabrielle, I knew my young sons needed me just as much as their sister did. When they began to act out for my attention, I knew I had to do something. It was a wake up call to figure this out to make sure their needs were met, too. They needed me and their dad. It was important for us to find ways to spend extra time with the boys. I wanted them to know they were important, too.
My husband and I decided to have “dates” with each son separately. We would put a sticker on the calendar on the day we were going to spend time together. Jansen would always ask me, “Is this my special day mommy?” His question made me realize how important our time together alone was to him. Not only did he treasure this time, but I did as well.
I know it hasn’t been easy for my boys to grow up with a sibling with a disability, however, their experiences have helped shape them into the wonderful human beings they are now: caring, responsible, compassionate young men.