May 6, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

I worried that Jelly would get lost amid Moe's needs, his therapy schedules, the extra time and energy he requires. But from her earliest days, Jelly has demanded my attention.

When Moe sits on my lap, she demands to sit there too. When Moe has a toy, she wants it. She even gets upset when I give him his vitamins. She is not old enough to understand that she is not the center of the universe. And I worry about the day she figures out that Moe's needs will need to come first. 

Will she be jealous of the extra attention he requires?
Will she resent the things she can't do because they don't fit with Moe's schedule?
Will she envy the relationships her friends have with their siblings, the vacations and outings other families can take that we cannot?
Will she act out in an effort to remind us that she, too, deserves one hundred percent?

Moe does not yet seem jealous of Jelly. He is happy to be with me, or play on his own. He doesn't put up a fight when Jelly takes a toy right out of his hands. But someday he might.

Will he be jealous of the attention Jelly gets just because she is able to ask for it?
Will he hide behind her vivacious personality, fading into the background?
Will he be jealous of how easily Jelly learns new things, makes friends, navigates the world?
Or will jealousy be something with which Moe is never burdened?

Sibling rivalry is a normal part of growing up. Jealousies may be a little more complicated in families that have special needs, but it is not unique to us. I am heartened by the people I know who have siblings with disabilities. They are educated and compassionate, often becoming advocates and educators both personally and professionally. But most important, they are brothers and sisters like any other: annoying, loving, protecting, and with a relationship all their own.

Today's piece was inspired by the Red Writing Hood prompt "jealousy."

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