To my precious first born,
I’ve been thinking for several days about the one person who I could write about and thank for being a blessing to our family.
We are incredibly blessed, because I could write for weeks about our family, friends, church, and the amazing teachers and therapists who work with Austin, all of whom have gone the extra mile for us. It felt impossible to choose just one person.
This afternoon, Austin got into the fridge and took two packages of shredded cheese out without me noticing. I found him after he had dumped them both out all over the living room rug, and was happily eating and throwing the cheese. I left the room for a minute, and when I came back, there you were, cleaning it up without being asked.
My answer to who to write about was right in front of me with a broom in hand, and a smile on her face, sweeping all of the cheese into a neat pile.
It wasn’t that long ago that you were a strong-willed, tantrum throwing three year old, and I wasn’t sure I would survive those toddler years.
Now you are ten. You’re a young ten in some ways, and an old soul in others. You’re determined, (which sounds better than stubborn :)) loving and selfless. You are compassionate. I tell you often that you’re my right hand girl, and that I don’t know what I’d do without you.
I ask for your help with countless little things throughout the day, and you’re always happy to do whatever I need.
“Emma, can you pick up Austin’s toys for me?”
“Emma, would you make sure the bathroom doors are locked?”
“Emma, can you grab Austin’s shoes?”
I will never forget one day that had been very long, and very hard with Austin. By evening I was completely drained. I hadn’t said a word to you about how I was feeling, and as Austin started melting down again, you looked at me with so much compassion and said, “Oh mommy, I’m sorry.”
Sometimes I worry that I ask too much of you, that I rely on you too much, especially during daddy’s four nights of working. I worry that in the future you will resent us or your brother.
As you get older, you’re more aware of how much Austin’s autism limits us. You realize that there are a lot of places we can’t go, and things we simply can’t do.
I know that sometimes you’re embarrassed by Austin, when he’s screaming in a store, or throwing things out of the car when I drop you off at school. Sometimes I worry about how you’ll feel as a teenager. Will you want to bring your friends to our home?
You ask me hard questions, and most of the time I don’t have the answers. But I love your concern for your brother, and I’m thankful that we can have conversations like we do.
You used to ask me if Austin would ever talk, and you prayed that he would. Now you ask me if he’ll ever talk normally. You ask what he would be like now if he wasn’t autistic. You ask what he’ll be like when he’s older. You ask me why God would give your little brother autism. You say it’s not fair.
I worry at times about how all of this will affect you as you grow up, and other times I am confident that the hard parts of your young life will only make you better and more equipped for what God has planned for your future.
You hug and kiss Austin all of the time. You read to him, you try to help him learn to play with his cars. You sing with him, and practice working on his words with him. You can’t stand for him to be upset, so you drop whatever you’re doing to help him. Sometimes when I don’t want to be pulled for the millionth time in a day, you will step in and grab his hand and say, “Show Emma what you want, buddy.”
You’re a gift to our whole family, Emma. The way you give constantly, the way you take care of your little sister, and especially to your little brother. I pray that as you grow up you will continue to love Jesus, that you will continue to be as selfless and compassionate and loving as you are now. I thank God for you and I can’t wait to see what your future holds. I love you so much!