Letter to My Loving “Ghost Child” on Halloween
There is more than one beautiful flower in our family bouquet.
“Mom, I don’t want to be a princess for Halloween anymore, I want to be a ghost!”
This declaration hits me like a punch to the gut. I mean, Lady can be whatever she wants for Halloween; the costume itself has nothing to do with my reaction to this innocuous statement. It’s the word “ghost” that makes me cringe and break out into a cold sweat.
“You’re already like a little ghost,” I think to myself, sadly.
Did you know, dear readers, that I have a daughter, too? I write about my son, Man, all of the time — hell, my blog is called Man vs Mommy — but I rarely write about his sister, my sweet Lady, who is 18 months younger.
I did not coin the term “ghost child,” but I am very familiar with it. It refers to siblings of children with special needs. Their parents are required to dedicate so much time to their brother or sister that they are forced to be more independent than they should be at their age.
Lady is unbelievably mature. It is unclear if this is because she is a girl, she was born that way, or because her older brother requires so much more of my time that she is forced to be this way. It’s likely a mix of all of these factors. However, there are times when she acts like the four-year-old she is. You can see her independence failing her and her need to have her mom’s attention. Who can blame her? She, like Man, is a child who needs her mom.
I want you to know, Lady, that I see you.
I see how amenable and flexible you are because you understand how much I struggle with Man on some days.
I gaze at you happily eating all of your dinner, no matter what I put in front of you, because you see how much time I spend trying to get Man to eat.
I feel how happy you are just to sit next to me, no matter what I’m doing, just to be in my presence.
I see you pick out your clothes, get dressed, and tidy your toys without me even asking.
I watch you let your brother go first… every time, just to keep the peace.
I am in awe of how long you can sit and entertain yourself, because I am occupied.
I am grateful for the smile you put on my face every day.
I feel guilty that there are some days when your needs come last. I hope one day to be able to make this up to you.
I am struck by your uncanny ability to know just when I need a random hug or a secretly whispered, “I love you, Mommy.”
I try my hardest to carve out special time just for the two of us, though I probably don’t do it often enough.
I admire your independence. At four, you are more independent than I, your parent, will ever be.
I see your sadness when I have to leave you to take Man to one of his many appointments. I hear you question why you don’t have as many appointments with Mommy as he does. I listen to you beg to go with us and not really understand why you have to stay home.
I watch your happiness every day. Absolutely nothing gets you down. Luckily, you have inherited this trait from your dad.
I take notice of the words you choose to use when you try to soothe your brother from a total meltdown. The care you take of him is exceptional. Your understanding of his challenges, without truly understanding them, is miraculous.
Your inner and outer beauty makes me exceedingly proud.
Your, “Whatever Man can do, I can do, too” attitude makes me joyous.
The little girl that you are now and the woman that I know you will become makes me proud to be your mother.
I glow as I watch the command you have over every room you walk into. You are larger than life in an innocent and purposeful way.
I can promise you, my Lady, that I will always be there for you no matter what—that when you truly need me, I will be by your side, as I am for your brother in his times of need.
I see you. I see all of you. You are not a ghost; you are my daughter and I love you.