Growing up fast: siblings of special needs children

A few weeks ago, I was doing makeup for a client and she said something that spoke directly to one of my mama fears.

My client is in high school but her maturity level is well beyond her years. As she was sitting in my chair, I told her how mature she is, how she seems so much older than all of her peers. 

She looked at me and said, “Well I had to grow up fast.” 

I had an idea of what she was about to say but I let her finish her thought. 

“With everything my parents had/have been through with my older brother, I just never wanted to cause them any problems. I needed to be the easy child for them and independence was the way to go.”

She, like my Braedy girl, is the younger sibling of someone with special needs. 

At such a young age, Braedy has taken the role of a special needs sibling by storm. 

As we celebrated her 3rd birthday this last month, I’ve been mulling over this idea more and more. 

I think it’s common for moms to start reminiscing on the birth of their children around their birthdays. So as I blew up balloons for Braedy’s birthday last month, I did what I typically do: I started down memory lane. 

I started looking at pictures and videos of our spicy girl and the common theme replaying in my head was just how much my world has changed since she was born. Her independence is unlike anything I have seen for a child her age.

Braedy is super independent. She dresses, feeds, and bathes herself. She just learned how to make her bed and is responsible for helping out mom around the house.

She has naturally taken on a lot of responsibilities not only for herself but Jaxlee as well. 

But as I scrolled through photos, I thought about her life in light of her being the sister of Jaxlee, too. 

She takes her role as Jaxlee’s sister very seriously— all on her own initiative. She communicates on behalf of Jaxlee to me and to others, letting them know what she wants and needs or likes and dislikes. 

Braedy will run to me and tell me when Jax is in a situation where she needs help, and she will be the first one to tell me when Jax is doing something she knows she shouldn’t be. Braedy will even wash Jaxlee’s hair in the bathtub for me.

Aside from me and Jonny, Braedy knows Jaxlee better than anyone else. Braedy is Jaxlee’s built-in friend, built-in voice, built-in caretaker.

But, like every kid, there is so much more to her. 

Something Jonny and I always look at each other and say is “she is so fun!”

As her language has developed over this last year, her thoughts and sayings just make us laugh. Almost everything she says I want to write down so I can remember it forever. Things like how she pronounces certain words, to her sentence structure, to the things that just randomly pop up in her mind and come out of her mouth. All typical development stuff we as moms can sometimes take for granted or even be annoyed by, right?

I often say when I had Braedy it was like I was a first-time mom for the second time. With each of Braedy’s new developments and milestones, I continually have that “first-time mom” experience. Like watching her learn how to ride a bike with training wheels on her birthday; I was just in complete awe of her ability to do this!

Getting to experience these things with Braedy often puts into perspective how different our experience was with Jax. Not only did my world change when Braedy was born, but Jaxlee’s world changed for the better, too.

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