Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare The Time?

One of my greatest worries as a parent of multiple children is whether I spend enough quality time and give enough attention to each of them. As a parent of children with disabilities, this worry is greater than average, I believe.

Ashley is my child that needs the most hands-on assistance. She cannot be left alone in the bath or shower. Feeding therapy requires my presence at each meal of the day. Many hours are spent at home trying to fill in what is lacking in her school program. And, I am always working with her with an eye on her future – what skills will she need to live as independently as possible when I am no longer around to care for her?

My other children do not require that intense level of assistance, but I do feel like they need their Mom just as much as Ashley needs me. I wonder if I am filling that need for them?

Jessica and I chat for a while every night during the week, and we have lots more time spent at least in the same room, doing the same activities sometimes on the weekends. . Corey is a bit of a loner, and will spend many hours in his room alone. I’m working on pulling him into the family room more often, but it is slow going. He does run errands with Chip and me on the weekends – giving me time with just the boys in the family.
Corey and Jessica go to bed earlier than Chip each night, and the time when they and Ashley are all tucked in bed is my time to spend with Chip. That’s when we watch movies that would be inappropriate for his siblings, or we chat about things that are important to him and him alone, not just chats about our family unit. He seems to really enjoy that time we spend together each evening, but I still wonder if it is enough.

I’ve never seen even the slightest annoyance on any of my children’s faces when my time is more dedicated to one than the other. I would like to think that all my children are learning patience and compassion from each other, especially because their lives are fairly different than the lives of many of their friends. One thing I have insisted upon for my family, and I strongly believe this has made a huge difference in my children’s lives, is that we all sit down to dinner together at least 5 nights a week. Actually, we usually have dinner together 7 nights a week because my children do seem to enjoy being home. Maybe that is the indicator that things are ok, and that I shouldn’t worry so much.


MMC said...

Boy, it's amazing how you manage to hit the issues in my life. I only have two kids, the oldest with epilepsy and dev delay and the youngest with a learning disability.

But the youngest is so incredibly jealous of any time that her sister gets, that I just can't win. I think its from when she was younger. Her sister spent a lot (and I mean a lot) of time in the hospital and although when her dad or I couldn't be there, the Kit Kat was always well looked after (either by grandma or a babysitter) it seemed to have a huge effect on her. So I struggle with just meeting the needs of two.

Quite frankly, I don't know how you do it. Although I do think I know your likely response. You just do it. Because you don't have any choice.

Ashley's Mom said...

You're exactly right - I just do it. I imagine most parents in our situations are like that. We take it hour by hour, day by day. That's a hard way to live, but it's the way we need to live. Fortunately, there are enough rewards along the way to keep us going. The absolute hardest time for me is when I get sick...I may blog about that soon.