To My Daughter, My 'Typical' Child
Although you yourself had a rough start coming into the world eight weeks premature, you are what is labeled in the disability parenting community as “typical.” Anyone who has met you, knows that is far from true. You are more than “typical,” to me, you are exceptional.
You may not feel that way about yourself, and I know some days I don’t always show you. The truth is, I am amazed by the person you are. No matter how many appointments we have to bring you to or events we have to skip due to your brother’s disability, you have never once complained. I know sometimes it is not fair to you and I wonder if there are days you resent me and your brother, but I have never heard you express it. I hope you never feel left out, unnoticed, not special or invisible. I see you.
When I look at you, I see this amazing young lady who I strive to be like. You have patience with your brother and show restraint when he upsets you. If we go somewhere and your brother can’t see over the crowd, you are the one that leads the charge to get him and his wheelchair to the front. If we do get alone time and can do something that is not accessible, you always try to think of ways to incorporate your brother or try to find him a souvenir. You are always thinking of him.
I know that every year since your brother was diagnosed six years ago, when you blow out your birthday candles you make a wish for him, because you don’t want him to ever feel excluded. I wonder if someday you will wish for something for yourself, but you are just not that kind of soul.
I have watched you trick or treat with two bags because your brother got overstimulated or couldn’t get up someone’s stairs. You have introduced your brother to other children and got down on their level and calmly explained why he cannot walk, but is a great friend. My heart explodes with pride every time I see you help him, expecting nothing in return. That is the kind of person I want to be, the kind that is selfless and kind.
Being a sibling to someone with a disability can be hard and just as isolating as being the parent or the person with a disability, but you do it with such grace. Young lady, you are more generous at 11 years old than I think I will ever be. You are special, smart, beautiful, kind and oh so loved.
You are not “typical” at all — you are exceptional.
Please don’t ever forget that.
Getty image by Archv