8 years ago I gave birth to my beautiful, funny, talented, sassy daughter Cadence. Leif and I tried for 18 months before we were blessed with her and she has been the light of my life since the minute I found out I was pregnant. Cadence is my best friend. Cadence is a carbon copy of me. Cadence is one of my favorite people and the one that can frustrate me the most because we are the same person. Cadence is my 'typical' child who has an autistic brother.
I feel like I have failed her.
Since the day she was born she has been my life. Every ounce of my energy has been spent making sure she lives a full and happy life and that she never needs anything because Leif and I have always provided her with everything. She was an only for 3 years before her brother was born. When her brother was born I wanted to make sure she knew she was important and loved and equal to the new baby who was taking up more of my time.
And then Nathan was diagnosed with Autism.
He required more of my time and energy. He required special circumstances to the normal rules and routines she was accustomed too. He required more of me. So where does that leave her?
Has Cadence now been permanently put on the sideline while her is brother on the field? Have I failed to give her an equal amount of me that I give Nathan? How do I juggle a typical child and a non-typical child equally? Is it even possible?
I feel like I have failed Cadence because once I am finished giving Nathan everything that he needs there is often not much left to give to her. I take advantage of the fact that she is 8 years old and capable of doing many things for herself and is pretty independent but at the same time I forget that she is only 8 years old and still a child and she still needs her mom.
She is often the one who has to make sacrifices and I fear that in the future she is going to resent me and her brother because her life is different because she is the older sister of a special needs sibling. I think when we hear about a special needs person we automatically think about the person dealing with the issue and then we think about the parents caring for the child but we seldom think about the siblings who are directly affected by it as well.
How do we as parents care and nurture them and make sure they know that they are equally special and important and loved and cared for? Where does the energy come from once I have used it all up caring for Nathan? How do I make sure she knows I am always here for her no matter how neglected she feels?
This process and life change is the most difficult thing I have ever experienced and I am learning everyday. It is a trial and error and I will fail and then I will succeed and then I will probably fail again.
I want to end this post by telling Cadence that I am sorry that I have failed her. I am going to make it a priority to remind myself that you still need me and that I still need you and I pray that there will never come a time where you sit back and think about how you wish your mother had been there for you more. I hope that you always know how sorry I am for not being able to give you 100% but know that everyday I am trying and that's really all I can do at this point.
I am sorry, I love you and I promise to listen next time you want to tell me something even if it is not the most convenient time. :-)
Until next time....