Wednesday, October 5, 2011

To the woman in seat 8C and all "other kids"

On our flight to Boston we were seated next to a business woman.  She was nice enough to let us move from the aisle to the window, but it came up very early in conversation that she didn't have kids.  I took that as the "so please keep your baby in check, I'm not up for it" kind of a statement.  She and Sid talked business while Maaike and I snacked and snoozed.  After a while she started to soften.  She wanted to know about Maaike. What was her story?  Why were we taking her to Boston?  She even shared two of her in-flight purchased sliders with Sid.  She was pleasant, but distant.

Then, without turbulence or warning, she started sobbing.  With only an hour left on our flight she decided to make her move and become unglued.  Through her tears she shared about her younger sister, born with down syndrome.  Her sister died just 5 years ago.  She loved her sister.  She learned so much from her.  But, "don't get me wrong," it was hard.  It was hard to have a sister who needed her parents so much more.  It was hard to not some how feel less loved when you require so much less time.  It was just hard.

Next came her plea.  "Be careful.  Don't forget your other kids."

She was able to regain composure in the telling of the horse her parents bought her.  She knew they loved her.  She still rides horses competitively all thanks to her parents.

"But still it was hard.  Don't forget your other kids."

I will never forget Coy's prayer just after they got back from China.  "...and please bless that Mom and Dad will care for us as much as they do for Maaike."  Indeed, finding the right balance between Maaike's tender health and Coy & Kees' tender feelings is no simple task.  We have tried, but there are days that feel like Sophie's Choice.  Last week we missed Kees' only soccer game because Maaike was in surgery.  Tonight I left Maaike crying hysterically with the nurse so that I could go to Coy's basketball game.  The choices are never easy, but I am learning to and trying to let go of the guilt, because I am doing my very best.
To the woman in seat 8C and all the "other kids": I hope you know you are not loved any less.  You are not less valued because you need less time.  You are not less important because you are healthy. You are loved.  You are valued.  You are so important to us.  I hope you know how special you are.


  1. Hello - I just clicked over to your blog from your profile on Miggy's blog. This is a powerful post, and hits close to home for me (my husband and I have 3 kids, one with special needs). A friend of mine recently recommended the book "The Normal One," about just these sibling issues - but I have to say that I HATED that book! Don't read it! :> (unless you are a glutton for punishment, etc) As you say, one does the best one can. I think openness and honesty about the struggle becomes useful as all the kids get older (ours are now 10, 7, 5). I'm not sure I will be buying any horses in the future, but I guess you never know. :> What I hope is the upside for my kids is the infinite compassion and patience we are all learning together. Best wishes to you and yours -

  2. It is really difficult. I worry about this all the time. We try to spend one on one time with the other kids, but still it is difficult. I remember one time I took one out for breakfast and I think I dozed in the restaurant. I can't be sure, but there was a blink in her story that I can't recall.

    We all just do the best we can and pray its all good.

  3. Hi Rian, My daugther has a trach too and she is visited by kids on the move. Her OT told me about your blog. I think its great that you have this. i haven't read all yout posts but feel the way you feel. it's nice to know I'm not alone.
    I too feel guilty about my other kids and I worry that they feel left out. My oldest is 15 and I know he understands and he's more likely to speak up( I hope). Now, my 6 year old is still having a hard time and has began erapy to help her. but like you said, we are doing our best! And whether they understand it now, they will when they grow up.
    Anywho, looking forward to your posts. You can check out our personal blog at

  4. Thanks for writing this. It's got to be such a hard subject to even think of. I worry about this too; my niece has been fighting cancer for four years - and I feel like her older sister feels that way sometimes. We all do our best to give one on one attention to both girls, but it is so hard sometimes.

  5. Stopping by from Presserfoot. This made me tear up. All three of your children are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!