Monday, September 21, 2009


Since the day Brogan was born, I have been both looking forward to and dreading the day that he started walking.
Sometime last week - after walking a few feet at a time for about a month but still mostly crawling - Brogan decided that he preferred walking to crawling. Of course we are all so excited and so proud of him! He is so proud of himself too, and he is just adorable to watch as he walks this way and that way, stopping, turning, bending down, squatting and standing back up like a pro! Picking up a toy in each hand and carrying them around as he wanders around the house!
Underneath the joy of seeing my son walk, there is a large part of me that is so sad and worried about my little girl and how she will cope with having her baby brother doing all these things that she just can't do.
Up until now, Avery has been excited whenever Brogan has walked, clapping her hands and shouting "Good job Buddy! Look at Brogan!! He's walking!!", but now that it is not a novelty anymore, she is starting to be bothered by it.
Gabe and I both worry a lot about this.
The other night, Gabe had the two of them out on the trampoline before bed, and they were having a great time. But then apparently Brogan stood up and started walking across the trampoline, and Avery got upset and said "No Brogan, don't walk! I want to walk!" and she tried to stand up, but only got as far as almost straightening up before she did a little jump and fell down.
Today at physical therapy, we all took a long walk through the hospital together. We're trying to get Avery comfortable using her cane independently in places other than just the gym where she does therapy - that is really the only place she feels safe enough to use her cane without holding someone's hand. So we walked all the way down the hall, up the elevator and through the main lobby. Avery did an amazing job, and managed to walk almost all the way to the lobby with just her cane, only stopping to rest 4 or 5 times. She had a little red turtle that we started out having her throw as far as she could ahead of her so that she could walk to it, pick it up and throw it again - motivation to get her all the way down the hall you know. But that didn't work because Brogan kept on refusing to hold my hand and would go racing ahead of Avery to pick up her turtle, which naturally was quite upsetting for her.
Obviously, it is possible that this may be the motivation Avery needs to get her walking, but at the same time it may just be disheartening for her, and we're in a little bit of a quandary over how we should handle it.
Of course we want Brogan to know how proud of him we are, but at the same time it would break my heart to think that it could make Avery feel bad about herself.
She is old enough now to be aware of the fact that children her age and much younger are walking and running. How do I continue to push her and encourage her in her efforts to walk, without making her feel inadequate in the light of her baby brother's easy transition to walking? How can I do it and at the same time let her know that everything that she is and does makes my heart just burst with love and pride?
Recently, in conversations with Avery I'll ask her to do something and she will say "Oh, and then that will make you so happy?", as if she needs to do anything to make me happy. I don't want her to think that she has to walk to make me happy, or that she has to do anything to make me happy! Of course I want for her to be able to walk, but for her sake, not for mine! And I certainly can't bear the thought of her imagining for even a second that we love her any less, or are even a tiniest bit less proud of her than we are of Brogan. I can't even begin to express how proud I am of much she already, at the tender age of 3, inspires me to be more than I am, to work harder than I do. If only we all could work as hard as she does and do it with the sweet attitude that she has always had, the world really would be a better place.
Oh, my heart aches for my precious girl.


Lisa said...

This post touched my heart. So beautifully written. I understand the joys you feel as well as the heartache.

Thank you for sharing this.

Meriaten Long said... heart is aching for her, too - she is an inspiration

Tami Conklin said...

That is heartbreaking. But that's also pretty common for all children as they have a younger sibling begin to reach milestones--they start to wonder if their parents are going to love them less, and they start to search for new ways to impress their parents and/or at least get their parents' attention. That's life with more than one child!

Patty Huffman said...

We feel your pain. We worry all the time about Jaedyn and how she feels seeing her two younger sibilings walking, talking, eating, playing. There are no words that we can offer, but maybe Brogan can help her. Passha contantly encurages Jaedyn and I know that makes a difference.

Samantha said...

My heart aches for your little girl.....but I am thrilled for your little man! I dread the day my son starts to realise he is different from other children, it must be absolutely heartbreaking.

Paul said...

My objective self tells me that this is life. That's it, Avery and Brogan will both realize it, and the sooner they learn to handle it, in their different ways, the better it'll be for everyone. I suspect, indeed, that they will turn out more adept at dealing with it than their parents give them credit for!
I'm no expert, but my advice would be to praise and encourage Brogan, love and support Avery (while controlling her natural frustrations), love them both equally (difficult, I know), and, perhaps most importantly, nurturing their love for each other. My guess is that they'll figure out the rest for themselves.

Valerie said...

My darling girl, the burden of a mother's heart is that I feel for you and for my grand-daughter in equal measure. I suppose we all suspected this day would come, inevitable really because Avery is so bright that these things will not escape her. You are such an amazing Mother, Josephine, you and Gabe have been so wonderful from the day Avery was born. You have both loved her and taken as much joy in her as any parent has any child if not more. You, above anyone,will both know how to handle this, you can (and do) praise Avery for everything she does, you can let her know that Brogan cannot speak yet (by the time he does she'll be older and more able to share this talent), that you cannot share with him those precious moments of story telling and other conversations which are so delightful. Without putting him down you can share 'eye-rolling' moments with Avery whenever he does something a bit naughty. Make her your conspirator - there's no more charming companion in the world than her.

Pam said...

My heart goes out to you reading the below remarks. I haven't any answers. I suppose you need to convey to her that you just want her to be happy and if she wants to walk you'lll help her, but if she doesn't want to walk then that is alright too. But somehow you also need to encourage her to walk so she can be as independent as possible. Is she old enough to try and explain that she has health problems which make it difficult for her to walk like other children, and how she has been given a very loving and couragious spirit to help her cope with it all. Explain all her positive sides, like her beautiful hair and happy smile, her laughter, and courage etc etc. And how Brogan doesn't have the same health problems, so it is normal for him to find it easy to walk. That 'we' should encourage him to walk etc etc etc. How when he is older he will be able to help her and protect her like all good brothers do.
Maybe something like that in words she'll understand, so she can also be proud of Brogan and see him as her little helper when she needs help.
Love Granny

Talitha said...

I wish I had some kind of amazing advice for you, but I don't know what to say!
I'm sure Avery knows how much you love her, but things will always be a little bit harder for her, as she already well knows!
I can't wait to spend time with her and to see and feel her amazing spirit.
See you soon, xxx

Syme Family News said...

Oh Josephine, You are such a super mom. I know that you have been given the gifts of caring for your children because of the qualities that you have. Avery excels in so many ways, and her brother will help her along the way with his kind heart too. Keep up spirits and just let her know that you are proud of her. She is so sweet. We sure love you.

Hedge said...

Just wanted to echo many of the other comments above. You are a great Mum! It's hard work being a Mum, but you are the best Mum for both your children. You can do it! and they will love each other so much!!

Paulette said...

Every star is different and so is every child some are bright and happy and some are meek and mild everyone is needed for just what he can do your the only person who ever can be you. Words from the children's song book, these words bring me such comfort Heavenly father loves all his children and as we love our children they will learn to love themselves and realise there is no Normal.

A rainbow is beautiful because it is made up of all different colours in this way families are like rainbows.

As a child I was afraid of being different and I tried to hide from anything I thought made me stand out only to realise no matter how hard I tried I will always be me and there is no one else like me.

Maybe you could find other things like rainbows that are made up of differences to make them beautiful
And talk about peoples differences.
I am so happy Brogan is walking and a happy healthy boy, And that your beautiful girl is as strong minded as she sounds from your Adoring words. I can not give advice only words to try to lift your heart, and I can only talk from my own experience and feelings.
I think and always have that you are wonderful, your countenance has always shone to me. What a journey this life is, know you are loved. And just love your children and I am sure the answers will come, we never get the whys or the when’s just the call, then the walk by faith. I know one day it will all truly be unfolded to us and a marvellous work and a wonder it will be.
Much love Paulette. x

Alex said...

My heart aches for you. We think that you and Gabe are amazing. You are two such capable parents. What a wonderful family you have. Can I keep Brogan for you during a PT appointment so Avery doesn't have competition for her turtle (or whatever her task may be)?

Andy said...

You are already the solution to this problem. Having parents with keen understanding and deep empathy will guarantee your children positive results. They may founder but never fail with you supporting them. Despite her trials she is much better prepared for this world simply by being sent to you.

Kristen said...

This post touches my heart. I can empathize with your joys as well as the heartaches. Cayman being my first child and planning to have other children in the future, I have thought about what it will be like to have our other children surpass her developmentally. I can feel that heartache and desire to find the right balance between encouraging each child in their own unique progress.