Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Glass Child - Part I

I worry about N.
I’ve been told that she’s “a great girl”, “she’s just fabulous” and “she’ll be fine
But still I worry
You’re an excellent mummy, you can’t do any more for her
But I worry, I do.
She is my daughter:
yes, she is 5;
yes, she’s just started at school;
yes, it’s probably "just a stage"; 
but she’s my daughter and I’m worried about her.

N is kind and gentle and empathic.  She takes on the role of caretaker and nurturer easily and naturally, but she is crying out to me, she is telling me that she needs time, that she needs love and that she needs me.
I love her unconditionally and wholeheartedly, but does she know that? 
I need to make it clear. 
It’s not as simple as “I love you”. 
It's not as easy as a cuddle and a kiss.
N needs to know that she is worth more than the sum of herself, that her value is not based on how good she is or how well she sleeps or how caring she is.

Perhaps this is normal and i'm overanalysing the situation; perhaps N is just a normal 5 year old.  But then again, perhaps it’s not normal and she is struggling, crying out for help and I’m looking through her…
Have you heard of a glass child? I thought that these children were fragile and breakable, but they are instead strong but sometimes invisible. They are the sisters and brothers of children who have special needs, requiring ongoing care and support above and beyond those of their peers, above and beyond “normal” parenting.


There are times when I can hear myself saying :
“not now, n, I’m dressing e"
“not now, I’m helping e"
"not now, I'm changing e"
“get out of the way, I’m trying to lift her"
“no, you can’t have a cuddle at the moment"
“please be good for mummy, i'm tired"

There are times when I see right through N. N is one of thousands of children with siblings with special needs, all with the potential of being glass children. I am so consumed by e’s needs that I see through her beautiful older sister, whose needs seem insignificant in comparison
This may well be "just a phase" but I cannot take N's emotional health for granted. Her emotions are strong and crazy and out of control and on top of her own, she feels ours too. I need to remember that she is a child; she is only 5, she does not have the same coping mechanisms as I do as an adult.  I need to read her signs, she is my daughter and I know her best; I just have to have confidence in my parenting.

N craves time alone with me: time without eilidh, time to be herself.
She needs love and she needs attention; I need to reach out to her with arms wide open and embrace her with all my might.

Hold tight, N, mummy's here...




Bright Side of Life said...

Such a beautiful post. You are so right...our other children who don't have special needs also *need* us. It is important to acknowledge that and also ensure that we make the time for them. x

Midlife Singlemum said...

I'd never heard of the phrase 'glass child' before. I've obviously heard of siblings of children with special needs who get overlooked. I don't think there is any chance of you overlooking N although E will always need more and immediate attention. It's probably hard for you and N to come to terms with that. The important thing is that you've recognised that N too needs your undivided attention. Lots of love. x

h0peful mummy said...

Di, thank you. our other children do *need* us so very much but often get swept aside - i'm feeling this so much more acutely at the moment with n - am sure that she will settle a little with some time and love and attention

rachel,it is hard to realise that this is just "normal" for niamh - i so want to treat them equally but it's impossible and it makes me so sad at times

thank you both for stopping by - as always, i really appreciate your support

Downs Side Up said...

This rings so true with me. Mia has always been so caring and taken on so much worry and responsibility for Natty. We make sure she has alone time with us, doing grown up things, but it is hard. However, I think she is growing up more caring and empathetic because of her sister, rather than being damaged by her in any way. There have been times I've worried greatly though x

h0peful mummy said...

Hayley, i think that our girls are amazingly empathetic and caring but I don't want n to feel responsible, to feel that she needs to "carry" e - i hope that she can strive ahead, following her path - wherever that may take her. thanks for stopping by and for linking to the blog in the Britmums Special Needs Round-Up

Pinkoddy said...

Such a great post. Sometimes it just happens without realising. My 5 year old is so "grown up" that I forget how young he is. Like when he wanted to take a teddy to his new school, (which he had to change schools because of SEN issues with his younger brother), or when he pipes up that he doesn't get as many bedtime stories as his brother.

Great post. Thank you for sharing.

h0peful mummy said...

Pinkoddy, thank you for stopping by. Niamh is 6 and wise beyond her years. in one way she is so caring to one and all, willing to give so much that I want her to do more for herself; then she is so dependent, refusing to dress herself, stating that we don't love her because we help e... I don't know how to get the balance right to do best by both of them.