Sunday, January 31, 2010

About Benjamin, Part 3

So I know it's normal to worry that you are shortchanging new and existing children when you bring a new child into your family.

But when you have a special needs child, new worries crop up that are hard to reconcile.

I'm sure these, too, are normal, and I am worrying for nothing.

But they are still there.

And so I shall share them. :)

It's about milestones.

There are two sides of this coin.

I fall on the first side of the coin and Matthew falls on the other side.

On my side, I am a little worried how I will feel as I see Thomas meeting his milestones. I fear I will be a little too excited. A little too relieved that I am not having to deal with a delayed child yet again.

It was so hard when Benjamin would go month after month after month and not be able to sit, crawl, walk, etc. And he did these things relatively early as compared to other babies w/Down syndrome! And it is still very hard for me that Benjamin doesn't talk yet and doesn't seem to even have very much receptive language.

When I found out my amnio results, that Thomas has no chromosomal abnormalities, I had to kind of shift my mind back into expecting "normal" milestones.

And as soon as I start to think about these things, my heart feels divided.

Because I know that it won't be too long before Thomas passes Benjamin in one area, then in another area, and then in all areas. And I hope and pray that I won't start to resent Benjamin for what he can't do yet, and for the things he will never be able to do. That by praising Thomas' accomplishments, I will be diminishing Benjamin's.

And things will be more complicated because Andrew will notice the difference and he will enter the world of "my brother is different." We haven't had to deal with it yet, and though I know we will, it is not something I necessarily am looking for.

Andrew sometimes asks us questions like, "Why doesn't Benjamin know not to pull those toys off the table?" or, "Why can't Benjamin talk yet?" And we just say, "Well, he's still too young to understand/to talk." I mean, Andrew is not even four yet. It's not like we're ashamed in any way of Benjamin's disability or that it's a skeleton in the Amick family closet. It just doesn't come up that much, and I don't want to confuse Andrew's young brain or for him to misunderstand our intention. I certainly don't want for him to think there is something wrong or defective with his brother.

But when Thomas starts to understand me when Benjamin still can't...

When Thomas can go up and down the stairs quickly and Benjamin still can't...

When Thomas can sing and talk and share toys and Benjamin still can't...

Well, it just makes my heart ache just a little. And I feel torn. I know I don't have to choose between my sons. I know I will and already do love each of them fully and just as they are. But it's still a worry of mine.

Matthew is on the other side of the coin. He worries that in an attempt to not make Benjamin look delayed (to others, to us, to Andrew, and also I suppose to Benjamin himself), that it might be our tendency to not encourage Thomas as much as we normally would. That he will tend to fall by the wayside. That by praising Thomas' accomplishments, that Benjamin's lack of accomplishments will be emphasized.

Either way, or neither way, I know it is all in God's hands. That each of our precious boys was given to us for a reason, and we will always strive to do what is best for each of them.

Life is just a bit more complicated now. Sometimes I just long for the normalcy I was expecting. Even though I know that not only was my life meant to be this way, but that even if I had all "normal" children, I'd still have struggles and fears.

I just think life is hard and complex sometimes.

But I do truly appreciate all the love and support I receive from all my friends and family. It means the world to me. :)


Stephanie said...

Oh, girl. Sometimes I forget how much you deal with because I have just fallen in love with Benjamin exactly the way he is. I know that is a naive/happy take on how difficult your life is in sorting through these uncharted waters.

I think you are amazing and I think you shouldn't worry (too much) about how you will deal with some of these issues because I truly believe God will give you GRACE and WISDOM to walk through them...just as you have since the day Benjamin was born and you were thrown a major curve ball in life.

I respect you outrageously. Thank you for being so real and honest and letting us see the struggles of a mom with a special needs child. It is good to know how to care and pray for you.

I miss seeing Benjamin. I would love to hug and kiss him!
Love you so much. You are an INCREDIBLE mother.

Just saw this verse the other day and thought it was really cool- especially for us moms who are desperately needing to know Jesus more!

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better."


Tricia said...

Sometimes one of my girls will ask me if I love the other more or less than her and always my response is I love you differently. Our love as mothers cannot be measured as more or less, just categorized as different. You will respond to Andrew, Benjamin, and Thomas individually as their needs require. I recommend buying and repeatedly reading "I love you the purplest." I hope this helps. I am praying for you.

paula said...

Angela, I have every confidence in you that, just like you seem to figure out what to do and how to handle your emotions now, that wisdom will come from God just when you need it. There will be four baby grandchildren all growing and reaching milestones side by side. Thank you for talking about it and making it easier on the rest of us. (and for making me cry again!)

Jenn said...

You know, It's different how you *think* things will be then how they actually turn out.
Joey at nearly 6 still has such a communication delay and even though we have told his brothers that he has some delays, they still don't comprehend it fully. There are times when they seem to understand, but in the midst of daily life, all that understanding goes out the window - and they will be physically aggressive towards him because they are angry about something that he cannot help. In many ways it helps that Joey is the youngest - and for you, you won't have that, so the 'younger brother surpassing the older' in milestones could happen within the first few years.
I think you will be just as happy and excited about Thomas' milestones. It just seems that the ones that are harder fought are the most rewarding - and those will always be Benjamins. It doesn't necessarily take anything away from the other kids without special needs. As your love expands and grows to accomodate more children, so does your ability to share excitement in each of their milestones, and find joy in their different personality traits, quirks and talents. xoxo

Dawn said...

Thank you for sharing this! It's so refreshing to read your honest words and to feel your heart as a momma.

I agree with you 100% that God has given you each of your boys for a reason. You are the perfect family for Andrew, Benjamin and Thomas! And God is weaving all of this together for good.

Heather said...

No one knows what the future is going to bring us. You don't know for sure that Thomas will race up the stairs ahead of Benjamin. Or that Andrew will start to resent his delays. Or that you will. What we do know is each of your boys are different and they're each very much loved. That's all that matters. Special needs or not, all of our children will struggle at times and will soar to great heights at times. The balance in between is gravy.


Kellye said...

Thank you for always being honest Angela. I think you managed to put into words what so many mothers have felt, but were too nervous to say out loud. You should be commended for putting it out there because I know you're not alone. God bless you guys and know that God absolutely will be there for you to help you through each and every season!!!

Alicia said...

Love the last thoughts about longing for "normal". The Lord has been reminding me a lot lately that even if I had the life I would consider "normal" I'd still have struggles and fears just as you said.
I just read a really encouraging and convicting post about fear here:

JILL said...

You've read this from me before, but I'll add it here. "Being fair doesn't mean treating everyone equally, it means giving each one what they need."

With twins, one delayed and one, well, ahead in some of the areas the other has the delays, I will say it can be obvious who is ahead of the other at times, but like Jenn said, you celebrate the victories of both children. Yes, those fought harder for seem to be a bit more special at times. And that's probably not always Mother of The Year stuff for me to admit, but, hey...

I think the fact that you and Matthew are both talking through this now and communicating your fears and hopes just further shows the love in your family. That love will see you through this with flying colors!

Lora Leigh said...

I think your fears are legit. I still wonder what it will be like when Rudy catches up with Raeleigh. However, I see another side. Rudy catching up with Raeleigh is going to be a good thing. There are 3 1/2 years between them but I can totally see them learning to talk at the same time. I think she is going to learn so much from him despite the age gap. I think you'll see Benjamin learn from Thomas as well. I think it's great that you are willing to share your fears like this :)

Anonymous said...

Have you been reading my mind? :)

Somehow (and after many years as a professional worry expert) I decided that I just wasn't going to worry anymore. If I go back and think of all of my worries and fears related to raising kids (especially Charlie) 99% of my worries and concerns never come true. Things just work themselves out. And after almost 5 months of three brothers living together it has been a beautiful thing to watch. Big brother Henry loves his brothers for who they are. Sure he is starting to notice some differences, but he makes a note of them and moves on. I've learned that if we don't make them a big deal then he won't either. Are kids are perceptive and they take their cues from us.

As for reaching milestones with baby number three I've found it to be so refreshing. I have yet to crack open a baby-book. I don't obsess over tummy time. Heck I know the kid is going to roll, sit-up and walk on his own time. So for now we cheer and enjoy this sweet and simple baby time. Isn't that beautiful!?

xx Libby