Mya’s Rule #4

Having the maturity to think of others before yourself is not restricted by age. Working as a caseworker for child protective services I saw a strength in children I will never forget. When I had expected abuse and neglect to show these children as survivors doing all they could for their own perseverance I actually witnessed it proving the opposite. Three year olds were changing their little brother’s diapers, telling me their sister needed a bottle. Siblings who were babies themselves were taking care of infants better than their parents had ever done. I saw a six year old boy gently rock his baby sister to sleep with the love and care of a mother. This is not to say hardship is necessary for raising a child but to show that age does not dictate the power to sense when care and love are needed. Mya is not an abused or neglected child, but even within a loving and caring family she knows what it means to put someone before herself. Having a second child you wonder how it’s going to affect your current only child. Will they be jealous or angry, will they love this new baby like you hope they will? I have mixed feelings regarding Mya’s first time meeting Ellie. I had bought her a shirt that said big sister on it expecting them to meet at home with a photo of them together on our living room couch. Even as I write I can clearly picture her running towards me in the halls of the hospital wearing that shirt. Her face was the happiest I have ever seen it. A moment mixed with joy and sadness, I thought how am I going to introduce Mya to her sister in the NICU, how am I going to show her that they will be best friends forever when she can barely see her in the hospital bed. I nervously washed Mya’s hands thinking a room with beeping machines and tiny babies was no place for a 3 year old. I fought back tears and tried to recognize that this was a special moment even though it was not the way I had thought this moment would be. I watched Mya carefully and practiced how I could explain what was happening and then took a minute to realize the expression on her face: pride. She didn’t know what Down syndrome meant, she had never heard the words NICU, she barely noticed the IV line and wires, this was her new baby sister and she was proud. I never had to explain anything to Mya. Someday I will but in that moment it didn’t matter. In her eyes Ellie came home when she was ready and she was fragile and delicate because she was a baby. Mya has never been jealous of the time Ellie has needed these past months. She has never blamed Ellie when we took her out of school prior to surgery. She delicately touches Ellie’s face and tells her she loves her. She surrounds Ellie in baby toys and always picks the softest blanket when she thinks she’s cold. Mya claps the loudest when Ellie does something to celebrate. You wonder late at night sometimes about your children and what life will be like, I feel safe knowing Mya will always watch over her little sister and in return Ellie will know no greater hero. I have a picture of Mya holding Ellie on our living room couch the day she came home from the hospital. A glow shining from Mya’s eyes as she carefully holds Ellie in her arms, hints of a smile from 2 week old Ellie thinking this 3 year old girl is amazing.

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