A few weeks ago, in our Sunday School class, another member shared a documentary that a high school student had made about his daughter, Sophia. She is the older sister of Eli (who's story you can read at Pray for Eli), an extraordinary little guy who has already faced a huge number of challenges in his little 5 years and continues to face many more as he grows, but he does it all with God-infused love and devotion from his family.
The documentary about Eli's sister is called The Glass Child, and it is about siblings of children with special needs and how they often grow up feeling as though they must over compensate for their sibling, by achieving more, doing more, entertaining more, helping more, etc, as well as being more compassionate and understanding. As we watched the video, I couldn't help but think of my husband's struggles that he faced early in life by being born with a cleft palate, and how his older brother must have been effected by that. An older brother who, by any and all observations, is extremely successful and has achieved a lot for himself and his family. To say he is driven is, to me, an understatement. Does his drive originate from nowhere other than his own determination? Is it from birth order, and he is just another example of an over-achieving first born? Or is it a product of overcompensating for a younger brother who struggled through multiple surgeries and other difficulties during his childhood? As someone who has only been in the picture for a little over a decade, it's impossible for me to actually specify the point of origin for my brother-in-law's resolve, but after witnessing for 11 years the love and devotion and admiration between the two of them, I'd say that he was monumentally impacted by his younger brother's start in life.
A few days later, as I was driving home from work, an old memory surfaced. Our middle son's teacher is acquainted with my brother in law, and had remarked at one time in the past that Pot Pie is very much like his uncle. I shrugged it off as being a comment that Pot Pie is a ham and loves to make people laugh and capture their attention, but as I drove home that day, the memory came back to me, and I realized how much deeper her comment goes.
Pot Pie was just 15 months old when Pumpkin Pie was born 4 months early. At a time when I should have been at home, cuddling a very much still little baby Pot Pie up to my ever growing pregnant belly, I was at the hospital, watching and praying and crying over his struggling little brother who was born too soon. From Pot Pie's age of 15 months to 19 months, I was absent, perhaps at times even when I was right beside him, my heart and head, if not my actual physical body, planted in the NICU at the hospital. From 19 months to 4 years of Pot Pie's life after Pumpkin Pie was discharged from the hospital, we spent so much time going through surgeries and rehabs and dealing with breathing difficulties, and Pot Pie was just the easy child to deal with, who rarely complained about anything. Even from 4 years to just recently, my thoughts and plans were being motivated by Pumpkin Pie's future and what he has in store for him should his vision get as bad as the doctors say it might. This, coupled with the fact that Pot Pie's older brother struggles with ADHD, Pot Pie has been the child I have rarely worried about because everything seems to come so easy to him. In fact, I've told people that I wish he did have some kind of struggle, just so he would know how to overcome it. I am in tears as I write this because it is hitting me full force now that I realize just what he has overcome to be who he is today. He is so smart, and incredibly intuitive. His powers of deduction astound me. He is the child who will get up earlier than anyone else, get ready for school without being asked, grab his breakfast of yogurt because he wants to eat something healthy, and then sit down and turn on the news because he likes knowing what's going on in the world and what the weather is doing so he can help his little brother get ready for school and dress appropriately when he gets up. Many mornings, he will make our bed just because he wants to help out. He goes above and beyond when we ask him to do something. To say he is a people pleaser just doesn't cut it. He is compassionate and caring and hilarious and so talented. I hope and pray that this realization I've come to will help me to support him even better as he grows up. Above all else, I will not overlook him anymore, and I will never take him for granted again.
Wishing my little Pot Pie a very Happy 8th Birthday this week!