It was a lazy Tuesday morning, and Brenna was cuddled among blankets on the couch watching her favorite show.
I followed Connor upstairs to help him get ready for the day, when he told me he was tired and wanted to lie down. He was just getting over a little stomach bug, so I tucked him in, and he asked “will you lay with me?”
I almost defaulted to my standard “not right now, I need to get ___ done.” After all, Brenna was downstairs by herself, there is always something to be done around the house, and I’m not good at relaxing in general.
But I flopped down on the bed, wrapped my arms around him and kissed his ears and hair.
We lay in silence for a minute while he fidgeted around, unable to hold still even for a second, and he patted my arm draped across him.
“I like when you lay with me,” he said, and I replied, “me too.”
And then, he continued…
“Usually, you’re with Brenna.”
It was matter-of-fact, with absolutely no hint of resentment or accusation. It was a statement said as simply and easily as “I like PBJ sandwiches.”
But my stomach tightened and my heart ached at his observation.
I began to blink hard so that tears wouldn’t form, and I said softly “I love to be with you too.”
I’m sure he’s right. Usually, I am with Brenna, in some regard.
For up to an hour a day, one of us is focused solely on her while giving her a bath. Four other times a day, we’re putting on Aquaphor and changing her clothes and diaper. We’re preparing food, because it’s so important that she eats. We’re helping her with physical activities that she can’t do on her own.
But on top of her physical and health demands, her strong personality is maybe even more demanding.
She wants to be held. She wants to read. She wants to be carried. She wants to “help” – laundry, dishes, whatever we’re doing. She wants to know what’s going on, she wants to see what’s going on, and she wants to be a part of it. No one would ever describe her as laid-back.
Connor, on the other hand, is excruciatingly easygoing.. to the point where you wonder how it can possibly take someone 10 minutes to put on their shoes. He’s hardly demanding, he entertains himself easily, he sleeps all night, and he rarely has any health concerns.
So, naturally, my energy and attention is poured into the one who demands it.
Connor is noticing.
And right now, he’s understanding. It is just the way his world is. But will this understanding always be present? Or will, I wonder, even the tiniest bit of resentment build up over the years? Not the kind of immature “you’re so unfair; you always let her do it!” that pre-teens explode with on a regular basis…but rather, something else. Something that makes him feel less important.
My heart still aches to think about that statement. “Usually, you’re with Brenna.”
I know this isn’t simply unique to children with health issues… so many siblings have vastly different personalities and are much more demanding than a brother or sister might be. What is it like in your family? Do you have a child that is more demanding on your energy and attention, and how to you handle it?