My Other Child
My other child is the one rarely mentioned on this blog. Like other typical siblings of kids with special needs and disabilities, her story is the one less told.
Less told, but no less important.
Less dramatic, but no less precious.
Less worrisome, but no less life-changing.
Less demanding, but no less worthy of our attention.
Like every typical sibling of a child with disabilities and special needs, she deserves her time in the sun. Today, on her birthday, I’d like you to meet my other child, the one rarely mentioned here, who was born six years after her big brother.
I could tell you about her childhood was different than his or how their personalities are polar opposites. But that would make her share the spotlight with him, and she’s had to do that all her life. Instead, I’m going to show to you her great and lovely heart.
When she was 5, my other child told her dad she wanted to ask Jesus to live inside her because she couldn’t be good all by herself. She told him she loved him more than Leppy her favorite stuffed animal, and if she ever started loving Leppy more than him, Jesus should take him away. Her own children play with Leppy now.
When she was 10 and my heart was broken, she brought me her favorite paint-by-number picture and a little butterfly sculpture she’d made. “I hope they make you feel better,” she said. They didn’t, but she did.
When she was 15, my other child and a friend who also loved to sew spent hours and days creating costumes for high school theater productions. Despite time and distance, their friendship and love for sewing remains strong to this day.
When she was 21, my other child and her husband stood shoeless as they recited their wedding vows. They wanted to acknowledge the gravity of their commitment to one another by standing barefoot on holy ground like Moses before God in the burning bush. They take those vows just as seriously now.
When she was 25, my other child persevered through a long, drug-free labor before welcoming her first child into the world. She marshaled her formidable stubbornness to give her baby a strong start in life. She makes sacrifices to grow his strength every day.
When she was 27, my other child and her young family uprooted their lives and moved to the town where my husband and I live. Throughout her growing up years, she’d watched my mother care for my disabled father. She and her husband want to be with us when we get to that stage of life.
When she was 29, my other child became a mom again. She and her husband brought their new baby from the hospital to our shared home. She navigated grandparent advice with grace and kindness.
Today my other child turns 32. We will celebrate with her, her husband, and their 2 children because of the sacrifice they made on our behalf. We will eat what she wants for supper with cherry pie for dessert. We will tell stories about when she was little. We will listen as she describes her plans for expanding and improving her vegetable garden. We will cheer as she gives an update about how her book coaching business is growing.
Above all, we will be grateful for the gift her old soul has been to our family. And I will say a prayer of thanksgiving for my other child, the one rarely mentioned on this blog.
How I wish you all could meet her.
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Jolene Philo is both parent and daughter of loved ones with special needs and disabilities, as well as a former educator who worked with children for 25 years. She’s written several books about caregiving, special needs parenting, and childhood PTSD, including the recently released Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families: The 5 Love Languages® for Parents Raising Children with Disabilties, which she co-authored with Dr. Gary Chapman. She speaks internationally about caregiving and parenting children with special needs and blogs at www.DifferentDream.com. Jolene and her husband live in central Iowa.
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