Three kids equals three different personalities with different needs – the level of urgency varying depending on the day.
Sometimes my life feels like a gag reel from reality television. Who am I kidding? There is way too much reality in my life for a good reality television program. Not once have we heard about a Kardashian child vomiting their way through the parking lot of the grocery store.
Three kids – all with stuff going on. How do I make sure that each one feels loved, cherished and noticed?
I worry about one or more of them getting lost in the shuffle. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! On any given day, one of the kids will need me for something, which means another one will have to wait. The squeaky one today may not be the squeaky one from yesterday or the squeaky one for tomorrow. I look around and see the dust bunnies and the bathroom sink that needs to be wiped out. Part of me sees the mess and wants to clean it. The other part of me wants to bring out the jigsaw puzzles and games. Boggle for the win!
As parents, we all have a file in our minds about our kids. At a moment’s notice, we can rattle off their favorite foods, favorite subject in school, their friends’ names, songs, games and who they look like in the family. Parents of kids with special needs have a more complex file. This file takes up so much of our energy. There are some days you can almost see the weight of the file pressing down on a mom or dad. The amount of information would overwhelm us if we let it.
Not only do I know the name of Benjamin’s favorite food (ShopRite brand of Shells and Cheddar) and who his best friend is (another classmate with the same name), but I know the name and number of the neurologist he has been seeing since he was diagnosed with epilepsy at 3 years old. I know jellied cranberry sauce is always a good choice as a side for any meal. I know when he last had an EEG and blood work. I know that if the canned corn is not ShopRite brand, he will not eat any of it. I can recall at will what medications and dosing he is taking. I can remember that he is a whiz at Snap Circuits.
Just before Olivia turned 2, she was diagnosed with life-threatening peanut/tree nut allergies. Just two months shy of her turning 2, we started having Epi-Pens with us at all times. There was always liquid Benadryl available. Olivia was also diagnosed with asthma and many environmental allergies before she was 3 years old. There was some adjusting to a new diet and what we us- to clean the house. We discovered foods that she would eat and what to do in case of cross contamination. We learned how to use an inhaler with a toddler. We are still vigilant about Olivia and what she eats. There is more to her than the medical. There is a girl who is smart, a talented artist, and loves babies. Olivia is also an inventor and likes to work in the garden.
Rebecca? Oh, she isn’t squeaky. I feel like I hardly know her sometimes. Rebecca is an easy kid. She has asthma, but it is well controlled. She likes broccoli and red delicious apples. Rebecca is tall with big feet like her mother. She used to snore, but that was resolved in kindergarten when she had her tonsils and adenoids removed. Rebecca loves books, the library and the book store. My baby girl is left-handed and graceful. I don’t hear her squeak. I don’t hear her ask for any more than I can give at the moment. She is quick to help and give out a smile. No, she isn’t squeaky and that is what makes me worry about Rebecca the most sometimes. I don’t want her getting lost in the shuffle of the daily stuff that could keep me from knowing my daughter. I am afraid that because she can be such an easy kid she will feel like I am not paying attention.
I love all three of them for being independent individuals. Squeaky wheels may get greased, but the quiet ones also get noticed in the chaos. I can see how each child will shine with their own brilliance as they get older. I hope that each of my kids know that they are loved and their squeakiness is music to my ears.
Jennifer Steuer is an Albany mom whose busy household includes her husband, Harlan, and 9-year-old triplets Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca. Follow her on Instagram: jennifersteuer.