By Jennifer Janes, author of the blog Jennifer A. Janes
A version of this letter appeared originally on the blog Jennifer A. Janes. It has been modified and reprinted here with permission.
My precious child,
My heart aches for you. I’m sure there are days when you feel like your sibling gets all the attention and I don’t notice you, but it’s not true. I hurt when I am so tied up in dealing with the newest symptoms, medications, and endless consultations with specialists and therapists that I don’t have time to sit down and talk with you, listen to you, like I really want to.
I see your tears when a new set of symptoms means seeing another specialist, and we don’t know how many times we’ll have to travel to an appointment there, how many years we’ll need check-ups with that particular specialty.
I see your frustration and sadness at witnessing another meltdown, finding out about another surgery, or enduring another of your sibling’s hospital stays. I see you trying to help out in situations where your dad and I aren’t around and other adults ask you to step in when they don’t know what to do.
I see. I know. And I have this to say:
You’re just a child. You have taken on far too many “adult” responsibilities and grown up too fast already. I already wonder if you’ll be the one responsible for your sibling after your daddy and I are gone, and how you will handle that. Please – enjoy being a child and let me carry the burdens I can take off your hands. They’re far too heavy for you. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: When adults turn to you for help, do immediate damage control and send them to get us. You are not responsible for handling the situation alone.
You are so loved. I see you, your pain, and the sacrifices you make every day. I see your attempts to not rock the boat, to not cause us any trouble, and to help in every way possible. I love you for trying to be the “perfect” child and not cause your daddy and me more stress. Please see You’re just a child. above and know that we don’t expect perfection. We don’t expect you to be able to handle every situation that comes up with your sibling. And we love you exactly as you are.
I love the person you’re becoming. Despite the negative feelings you experience at times, I love who you’re becoming. I see your compassion, kindness, and sensitivity to others’ feelings. You are developing wisdom beyond your years. God will use the experiences that cause you the most pain now to develop character traits in you that will be invaluable to you now and as an adult.
I see your amazing love for your sibling. I love that you are always the first to defend your sibling when someone says or does something unkind. I love how you play and share life together. Your hurt is deep, but your love is deeper, and I am grateful.
I’m sorry. For the times when you have felt neglected, unseen, unloved, or unwanted, please forgive me. I am trying to find ways to spend more time alone with you—little moments we can steal at home and times we can go out together for a soft drink, meal, or to browse our favorite stores. Balancing everything is hard in certain seasons, but I am working to get better at it.
You are amazing. And don’t you ever forget it.
I’m here for you. I love you every bit as much as your sibling, and I want you to know that I’m here for you too. We only get one chance at your childhood. Let’s put the mistakes of the past behind us and make the most of every moment!