Dear Typically Developing Children of Mine, I’m not sorry your brother has special needs.
When I first received your brother’s Down syndrome diagnosis, the first coherent thought I had was, “Poor him”, which quickly turned to “poor you.” I exited the present and started living in your futures.
What if someone made fun of you for having a brother who was different? What if I got too overwhelmed with his special needs and forgot about your needs? All I could think about was how this wasn’t fair to you.
What I failed to think about in those first few weeks was how wonderful his diagnosis could be for you.
I didn’t understand the complex world of disability then, I’m still working to understand its many nuances, but one thing I am sure about is this: I’m not sorry your brother has Down syndrome.
When you see your brother working hard to accomplish something that comes so naturally to you, I pray you learn humility. When you are tempted to judge someone based on his or her appearance, I pray you think of your brother and how he will be judged.
I know you may grow up sooner than your peers, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Because of your brother, I hope you can by-pass some of the shallowness that comes with youth.
Things won’t always be fair. I will try my best to settle the score, but your brother’s extra needs will at times take more of my time. My loves, life isn’t fair, but know my love for you burns just the same.
You have the secret to life right in front of you: Life isn’t all about you and when you make your life about others, you get so much more in return.
I hope you teach each other to love, to love all people, and to love them well.
A version of this post originally appeared at JillianBenfield.com, published with permission.