When Alyssa was younger, I worried so much about how having a sister with a rare syndrome would affect her. I worried that Olivia was so needy at times that Alyssa was being pushed aside, her needs neglected because her sister’s needs seemed greater.
I worried that Alyssa would feel as if her sister received preferential treatment, that Alyssa would feel like she’d been pushed aside as her sister was celebrated and treated with tenderness.
I worried that they wouldn’t have a good relationship because what if Olivia couldn’t relate the way Alyssa needed her to. I worried that Olivia’s status as a child with special needs would push Alyssa to the background and make her feel invisible.
I worried that I could never be enough for both of them, that they’d both always need more from me than I could give. I worried that when I was doing something for one of them, the other would feel neglected or less loved.
I worried and worried and worried.
And they just kept growing and doing and learning and becoming these amazing people that I love so, so much.
Olivia is still kind of needy at times, but Alyssa has developed a maturity that allows her to wait until Olivia’s needs (or wants, yikes!) are met and then she voices her needs reasonably and I do my best to meet them.
At eleven years old, Alyssa is very capable of doing a lot of things for herself. She packs her own lunch each day, she showers without help, she folds towels and clears the table. She does her homework with minimal help and she knows what she needs to take to school each day and does it.
But each evening, after I’ve read to Olivia and settled her to sleep, Alyssa will call out, “I miss you.”
And that’s my cue to go sit with her. Sometimes she sits with her feet across my lap, other times she just leans against me. She even likes to lay with her head in my lap sometimes. I love this quiet time with her, time when we’re both a little sleepy but still totally there with each other. We talk about the day, about her classmates/friends, sometimes about what’s happening on whatever we happen to be watching on television. We laugh, we tease, we connect.
I watched my girls together and realize that I should never have worried about their relationship. They love each other so much. They also know exactly how to push each other’s buttons. They’re sisters, they fight, they laugh, they tease, they team up against the parents and I am so grateful for it all.
Will this stop me from finding new things to worry about? Probably not, but it helps to keep the worry in perspective.