Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wake-up Call

One last week, Esen said to me "I wish I was Marissa."  I asked him why and he said, "because you love her."  I told him I loved him, too (as we do at least 100 times a each day), to which he responded "she gets everything and you pay more attention to her."  Ugh - knife, meet heart.

It is true, she gets more attention, she sees a million doctors, she has five therapists who see her weekly, she receives medication three times per day and requires pretty much constant one-on-one care during every waking moment.  Esen has matured far beyond his age over the past year and it is hard to remember sometimes that his is just a little boy who still needs to be treated as such.  That day, that moment was a huge wake up call for me.  We need to slow down, take a breath, lower our expectations of him just a bit and remember that he needs time and attention just as much as Marissa does, just in a different way. 

I know that his life as a big brother is going to be very different from the lives of his peers.  He so often talks about 'when Marissa is bigger and can walk,' or 'when Marissa starts to talk,' 'when Marissa grows up and rides her bike.'  Sometimes he gets that she is different, but definitely does not yet see the degree of her differences.  I think it won't be clear to him until they are both just a little bit older or until friends start to point out to him just how different she is that he will realize the impact her medical needs will continue to have on her and our family life.

That all said, I do feel a small sense of loss for him.  It makes me sad that he may one day look at her and wish she was different - wish she was "normal."  Yet, on the other hand, she gives him a great gift as well - the gift of acceptance, patience and understanding that other children do not and will not have.

So, for me, for us, it means we are not doing a good job right now of balancing.  I'm glad my little guy was able to verbalize this to me.  I'm glad I have a chance to address this now and not let it go on.   Yes, we are adding more children to our family.  Yes, the challenges will grow and yes, some think it is the wrong choice.  For us, it is not.  Children are not a mistake, they are not an accident.  We do not walk away when things get difficult, we don't shy away from challenges - we face them, deal with them and move on.  The new kiddos will change our family dynamic for sure, but I believe the change will be a positive one.

Today was a perfect rainy day and the perfect opportunity for some Esen and Mommy time.  We went to see The Smurfs (a super inexpensive 10:00 a.m. show) and then to WalMart for Kindergarten school supplies.  It was so fun and Esen loved having 100% of my attention.  He was pretty squirmy during the movie, but there weren't many people there, so it didn't matter much.  I LOVED The Smurfs growing up and the movie was really very cute!  I opted to take him to the early morning, non-3D one because I didn't figure he'd use the glasses anyway and I wanted a smaller crowd for his first theater experience.  School supply shopping was pleasantly brief and fairly inexpensive.  I haven't gone through his fall/winter clothing yet and I know he'll need a few things, but I don't think it'll be too much.  The list sent out from school was quite short and my frugal, reasonable, fiscally responsible son decided he didn't need a new backpack or a new lunch bag because "the ones I have at home are just fine."   I LOVE HIM!!

Esen got a big kick out of finding the items himself and checking them off his list.  Kudos to the Elementary School for putting the exact pictures of the desired items next to the descriptions for ease of locating!  I can't believe that in less than a month my 'baby' is going off to Kindergarten!!


Jacob's Mommy said...

Sooo hard to balance when their perceptions determine how they feel about themselves. I love that Esen was able to tell you how he is feeling

Jessi said...

SO fun that you guys got a date!

Hilary Marquis said...

It can be hard when one child needs so much different individual attention. We struggle with that to a smaller degree here too. But, do you know what I saw last week? A child at VBS who struggles in very much the same way as Tyler (although he is getting better with age) was in class with the boys. I was working in the crafts room and when it was their turn this little boy began to melt down over the project...I recognized immediately that this little boy was different just like Ty. I knew how to do damage control but, what brought tears to my eyes was the way Toby handled it. He was right next to this little boy trying to defuse the situation, to encourage him, to comfort him. My children are learning to accept and love others just the way they are and to step up to be the one to offer help or their friendship. Esen is going to be that kid someday as well. Marissa is teaching him. You're doing a wonderful job, Shannon!

Anonymous said...

I hear exactly the same from my eldest daughter, so very hard to hear :(

I think you did a great job of giving him some Mommy time.

blogzilly said...

Carter, my typical older son, often has a similar reaction. It's inevitable I think. I'm hoping that one day he maybe outgrows it and instead becomes Bennett's advocate. Bennett will need that. So will I.