I've got three kids, but two of them definitely command more than their fair share of attention and time! Some of this is a stage-of-life type of thing. Baby Ben just needs a lot partly because he is a baby… and partly because he's got that kind of strong-willed, "squeaky wheel gets the grease" personality! I suppose that's part and parcel with being a third child. But truly, Baby Ben will never let me forget that he's there. He's got a commanding presence.
James needs my attention for other reasons. Like Ben, some of this is a stage-of-life thing. James is the oldest child, and he just has a lot more going on than the other two. Homework, school obligations, scouts, and sports -- his life is much busier than the other two kids' lives, and it takes a good amount of time and energy to make sure he gets where he needs to be and has everything that is required of him. Oh, and he has type 1 diabetes, too, and that alone puts his priorities right at the top of the list sometimes.
So, right in the middle of these opposing forces of nature, we have Luke. Luke is SUCH an easygoing child. His personality is mellow, his health is impeccable, and as a kindergartener, his life obligations are not too extreme at this time. In a lot of ways, I've regarded his easygoing personality as a "tender mercy" from God. I remember that when he was a baby I could put him down while attending to something diabetes-related with James, whether it was testing his blood sugar, giving a juice box, or administering insulin. Even as a baby Luke tolerated all kinds of schedule disruptions and rude interruptions to his schedule with a smile and coo. He's still like that, and I really do thank heaven for his great little personality.
But sometimes the needs of the kids come into conflict. The other day before school we had such a moment. James was halfway through breakfast when his insulin pump alarmed that it wasn't delivering. Since it was only minutes before the school carpool arrived, this caused a fair amount of scrambling. I had James sprawled across my lap with a new infusion set, and he wasn't happy. Baby Ben's breakfast/morning fussiness routine was interrupted by this unfortunate turn of events with James' pump, and let's just say he wasn't happy either. So James was complaining loudly, and Ben was screaming loudly. And Luke was JUST trying to tell me something...and I lost it and yelled… at Luke.
Poor, innocent Luke was told to "Just be quiet, stop talking right now and go in your room!" Immediately I felt guilt. Luke hadn't done anything wrong, his story was just one extra thing that was competing for my attention, and I couldn't do one more thing at that time. I finished James' infusion site change, got him off to school, picked up Baby Ben and walked in to talk to Luke. It was clear his feelings were hurt, but he was still quiet and good. I apologized sincerely, gave him a big hug and saw his frown turn into a smile. It shouldn't be so easy.
So what is a mom to do with her easygoing children in the midst of the difficulties that surround parenting kids with other, more difficult needs? I've thought about this a lot. I've come to the conclusion that some kids may just have more needs than others. In our family, that becomes quite obvious. James will always need a little more than the other kids. But all kids have needs. I need to meet Luke's needs in a kind and thoughtful way, and I'm working on that. I'm so lucky to have a sweet, forgiving boy who is working with me as I bumble around imperfectly as his mother. This post is dedicated to my sweet Luke -- truly a great big and little brother! Luke, I promise that I'll always thoughtfully consider your needs and take care of them as best I can.
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I'm thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.
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