To my dearest Clara,
I’d like to apologise for today. I haven’t been cucumber cool, and won’t be winning any prizes for my parenting skills. I’ve shouted too much and got angry too often, but I need you to know how remorseful it’s left me feeling. Because you, my lovely girl, do not deserve a shouty mean mama.
On days like today I’ve looked at your beautiful face and big blue eyes, and noticed (not for the first time) how much sadness you carry around. You look like you have the weight of the universe upon on those tiny shoulders, and it breaks my heart, it really does.
Your quiet, unassuming personality and good nature leave you vulnerable. The way you just get on with your business, and totally know your role in our family dynamic brings tears to my eyes.
You can be so serious, and it makes me feel too sad that you don’t get to be a regular kid. That we don’t see you skipping down the street full of the joys of Spring. Unless daddy or I take you out by yourself of course, and then your soul almost visibly lights up and you’re barely able to contain your excitement.
When your big sister wants to play nicely it’s truly the most joyous thing to watch, but when she’s feeling irritated, which she does multiple times every day, you are always the first one to cop it from her. I try so hard to intervene before you get hurt, but the damage done by low-level violence and name-calling is evident. What’s even more heart-wrenching for me to witness is when you mimic your sister’s behaviour, and bestow it upon your two-year-old brother.
In most families I know, the second and third children benefit from their parents being super laid-back. They made all their silly mistakes on the first kid, and by the time No. 2 is as old as you are, they’re virtually getting away with murder. It’s not the way this family rolls though; there is nothing laid-back and stress-free about us.
For this, and so many others things, I’m sorry my darling.
Sorry for the way that your sister controls every element in the games you play, sucking the fun out of them and leaving you miserable.
Sorry that we get so wrapped up in keeping life balanced and level for her sake, that you are often left underwhelmed, crying out for attention.
Sorry that it took us so long to realise just how much you hated your gymnastics class. Your sister needs it so much, you see, and it made sense for you to go too. It’s become apparent that it was causing you a lot of extra stress on a Saturday morning, and you can rest assured that we won’t be sending you back.
Sorry for the way that you sometimes bear the brunt of my anger and frustration, even though you’ve not really done anything wrong. You’re hardly being naughty, just doing what most four-year-olds do. It’s all a little house of cards, you see, and it can come tumbling down too fast.
People talk about the close sibling bonds that autism creates, and I can only hope this one day relates to our family. When you’re old enough to have it all explained, and you can understand why she does the things she does.
High-functioning autism is a minefield. How on earth could I possibly expect you to ‘get it’ until I do? I’m still very much learning and trying to get to grips with it myself. This is our transition phase, my beautiful girl, I just hope that any damage done doesn’t stick around. It’s a well-documented fact that being the middle child is hard enough.
Please forgive me for days like today. I’m trying my best, I really am.
Know that I love you all so very much.
Your Adoring Mama
After surviving a severely dysfunctional upbringing, Reneé is determined to ensure that her own children have a better start to life than the one she had. Last year she wrote her first book. Become the Best You is part memoir, part self-help, and details how she ditched negative influences and behaviour to break the cycle of dysfunction.
Latest posts by Reneé Davis (see all)
- Why I (Sometimes) Hate Autism - August 23, 2017
- Things I Learned the Hard Way About My Daughter’s Autism - September 28, 2016
- A Letter to My Neurotypical Middle Child - February 8, 2016