siblings, part 946

I thought I was done harping on the sibling stuff. I really did. But well, we all know about the best laid plans of mice, men and autism moms. *Sigh.*


We’d had a wonderful night. Friends had visited with their two girls. We’d had dinner like grown-ups. We’d shared a bottle of wine, bored our spouses with age-old stories and laughed heartily at ourselves and each other.

The girls had run off together after their dinner. In her own way, Brooke had been a part of the action.

As our friends left, the girls all hugged goodbye. Brooke convinced the older girls that one last round of Ring Around the Rosy was called for. They graciously obliged. It was a delicious ending to a wonderful visit.

We’d let the night wear on far longer than we should have. As we cleaned up and got the girls ready for bed, exhaustion crept in and the evening’s euphoria inevitably melted into puddles of dysregulation. Both girls were just plain done, but Brooke was a certifiable mess.

She whined. She cried. She screamed. She fought every step of the bedtime routine. At the suggestion of brushing her teeth she wailed “NOOOOOOOOOO!” as if she’d just been prodded toward the electric chair. Luau eventually came in and took over in the bathroom as I headed into Katie’s room to say goodnight.

While Brooke lashed out, Katie turned in. Fatigue, as it often does, had wrapped her in a melancholy haze. She was lying in bed, quietly watching the rainbow of light on her wall.

“Mama, I’m not doing so well,” she said as I sat on the edge of her bed. I brushed her hair out of her eyes and gently pulled her quilt over her shoulders.

Brooke was yelling in the bathroom as Luau brushed her teeth. I cocked my head toward the door and said, “Well, you’re doing better than your sister right now, my love.”

She turned away from the wall and looked at me. Her eyes were heavy.

“Actually, Mama,” she said, “I don’t think I am. It’s just that I don’t have autism, so you wouldn’t know.”

I wrapped my arms around her and hoped she wouldn’t feel the tears spilling onto her quilt.

27 thoughts on “siblings, part 946

  1. Ouch, been there. Not long ago G screamed at me, his eyes so dark with rage, “You always take E’s side over mine.” And I felt helpless and sad that it was mostly true. Those strong sibs so often get the short end of the stick when it comes to our attention. Of course they’re bound to feel the injustice at times.

  2. Oh, ouch! That is a real heart breaker! It is so hard to give equal attention to both kids, one is always left feeling jilted. Damned if you do…..Hang in there!

  3. Woooooo. I get that. K is so much younger than even Brooke so he doesn’t know how to phrase his emotions. What does he do? Emmulate T’s dysregulation. It’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes and hard to help him understand that T can’t always help orbit K has the voice to help him explain.

  4. “I feel like I am less important….” – said by my NT daughter to a therapist. Yes, I needed to hear her say that, I needed to acknowledge that is how she feels. But wow, does it hurt. The weight on her slender, tiny ten year old shoulders breaks my heart.

  5. Wow Jess what a touching story… I could only hope that one day dj and rc have as much compassion and understanding about their older sib lj. Thank you so much for sharing this. With a four, two, and less than 1 year old. A lot of sibling issues haven’t surfaced at all… Someday however I am sure they will.

  6. Oh, sweetie, *gulping back big tears for your sweet girl, pardon me a moment* It sounds like someone needs some time with Mama and maybe some email time with her new mentor? Wishing I had a magic wand to share.

  7. Yikes and Ouch. But on the other side, look how eloquent and articulate she is. She summed it up sharply, in the moment — and aren’t messages like that powerful stuff.

    Touching. Thanks for sharing Brooke and Katie with us.

  8. In the words of Rick LaVoie- “Fair isn’t equal. Fair is giving each child what they need… if you can look a child in the eyes and say ‘If it were you, sweetie, I’d do the exact same thing’, then you’re treating them fairly.”

    I remember this often when one of my child’s issues dominate the other one’s. You CAN’T balance- you can only be fair. And fair is not the same. Fair is what they need. And tucking Katie in? That was what she needed. Nice job, mama…

  9. Ouch, I know that must sting, but you are ahead of the game in that she communicates these things to you and that you really listen and make the time for her. Hugs to you.

  10. Sigh… this is why I have such trouble deciding whether or not to have another child. I just don’t think I can balance. My need for another child is just my selfish attempt to have “typical” moments. Totally unfair.

  11. Mom -you and I have a great deal in common. The difference being -I have boys and 2 out of 3 of them have Aspergers. They are ages 11 and 15. We went to a party the other night and 11 couldn’t take the noise of teenagers, the smells of foods and all of the new people who “talked weird”. Isn’t a party supposed to be fun? I enjoy reading about your girls.

    I would love if you would check out the adventures I have with my boys on my blog:

    Blessings to you and yours…

  12. Oh, I’m so sorry!! These are the hardest moments and they linger a long long time for me. I am always so glad to hear the words though because my greater fear is the bottling up of the emotions. This week I found out my oldest, who had been great at home and in most arenas, was sabotaging one very discreet area of his life. It was as if he’d chosen the smallest, most contained, least important pocket of his life(to him) and released 12 years of anger and resentment all without us noticing FOR WEEKS. I am still reeling and am trying to give him the space to eventually tell me what was underneath that behavior. He’s a fantastic sibling, like Katie, and sometimes I think it is just way too much, and we can’t possibly always shield them, nor should we. We’re here to help them when that happens…and they do know that, I believe, even when they are angry or hurt.

  13. I struggle with sibling envy most of the time, Piper’s an only child (she does have a distant step sister whom lives several states away and hasn’t seen in years) and I often wonder if having a sibling would make life better. Especially when I read about wonders of the world like Katie.

    I’m sorry it’s hard. I have no idea what it is like to be pulled between your two children. I am living in a world where the affected child IS the center of the universe and the only thing worse for wear is her mama (who is tough enough to bear it most days). I do know that from what I see you are doing a wonderful job with both of your girls and from where I sit that is pretty awesome.

    My heart is going out to you. It left my chest of its own volition and is winging it’s way to you. I hope it’s a comfort.

  14. My son, who is 7, told me once that he knew he just wasn’t as important as his sister. It broke my heart! I explained that I LOVE them both, blah, blah, blah…then he pointed out that she does get much more attention because she has autism and he is getting tired of waiting for her autism to go away.

  15. I know I’m commenting waaay after this was posted, but I couldn’t help it! I’m the older sibling of a brother with PDD-NOS. He is lower functioning and wasn’t very verbal when we were younger, which meant that we didn’t fight. But boy did I resent him for the amount of attention he got! There were plenty of times I couldn’t do fun childhood stuff because I had to go to his therapy sessions or he couldn’t handle the activity I wanted to do because of his sensory issues.

    I’m here to say that most typical siblings grow out of it! My brother has actually influenced what I studied in college and the career path I chose. My parents tried their best to make time for me and allow me to do the things I wanted as a kid, and I’m thankful to them for that! My mom says the “mommy guilt” never completely goes away and she always felt like she was doing a terrible job, but I’m proof that her and my dad’s efforts weren’t in vain!

    • julianne, thank you so much for writing!

      you know, the adult siblings that i’ve met along the way have never ceased to amaze and delight me.

      to a man (or wo-man) they have been compassionate and sensitive and eager to make the world a better place (and largely doing so simply by the example that they set daily.)

      and i hope you sent that to your mom too. i’m sure it would make her day!



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