Cheyanne & Chris,
It's been a wild and crazy 3 years. 3 years of ups, downs and surprises. 3 years that has changed us all. I pray that it has made us all better and stronger people.
When you found out that there was going to be an Ainsley you were 3 and 10. You were excited that there was going to be a new baby that you could dress up and play with. You were so young that you didn't realize how much different life would be for you. None of knew what was coming and the things that we would all be forced to sacrifice. I pray that you don't hold that against Ainsley as you grow older, it wasn't her choice.
When Ainsley was born you were both so excited to meet her. You thought she was a new toy to play with. You both loved to hold her and feed her. Everyone seemed to flee the room when there was a poopy diaper though. I guess that's just one of those things that isn't cute or fun when it comes to a little sister.
It didn't take long for us to realize things were different this time. We went from excitement to worry. I tried to hide it from you for a while but I don't think I was very successful. And that's when things changed for you, more than anyone else. I still feel guilty. I feel like you were cheated in some way. That by no choice of your own you were cheated from many of the things that makes childhood so amazing. You both learned too soon how things can go from wonderful to terrifying in the blink of an eye. I should have done a better job at hiding my stress and worry from you so maybe you could have held on to that innocence for just a little bit longer.
In one swift motion the days of going to the movies, parks and McDonald's were replaced with trips to the pediatrician, hospital and specialist after specialist. You missed birthday parties, football games, school activities and spent many days stuck in the house because it was too risky to take Ainsley out and people weren't allowed over during flu season. I know you were torn between loving your sister and the disappointment in realizing that you were missing out on so much and there was nothing you could do about it. I'm very proud that you both handled it so well. That you both have never held it against Ainsley.
We thought we had turned a corner last year when Ainsley's heart was repaired. I just knew that the days of doctors was behind us and that life would get back to "normal". We were all shocked once again when we received the autism spectrum diagnosis. I spent days researching before the diagnosis because I already knew that's what we walking into next. I tried my hardest to find ways to help Ainsley while not disturbing your lives. Epic fail on my part. Once again you were thrown into the adult world way before you should have.
As we all adjust to the world of Autism I believe we are handling it better as a family. We have all learned what triggers meltdowns and how to curb them as best as we can. We still have kinks to work out. I feel horrible when you want to sit in my lap Chris and I can't because Ainsley needs to rock. I feel horrible when you ask for a bed time story and I can't because I have to put Ainsley to bed. I feel horrible when you want to go to a football game Cheyanne and I have to say no because Ainsley has had a bad day. I feel horrible when I have to say that you can't have a sleep over because Ainsley is sick.
I am proud of the kids you have become. You are both stronger people because of it. You are both more understanding of people, I know for a fact that I will never see a day that you are mean to a person because of a disability they may have. You shouldn't know what Sotos Syndrome, CHD or Autism are but you do. You proudly wear you CHD support tshirts and explain to everyone what it is without missing a beat. Cheyanne, I have heard you explain to people what Sotos is. You know more about this than some doctors that we have met. I am proud that both of you care enough about your sister to ask what it is and what we can do to help her. I never expected my kids to deal with the things you have at such a young age. I never expected one of my kids to ask me if their sister was going to be ok. You have shown love and compassion for her that many adults don't have. You don't judge her. I know you get aggravated when she smacks you but the way you respond to it shows me that you are growing up and I don't have to worry about the type of adults you will be.
I pray that when you are older and you look back you will remember the good times more than the struggles. The way that you both lit up with excitement and pride the first time Ainsley said Sissy and Bubba. How we all laughed when Ainsley ran down the halls of your schools yelling for you and slipping into classrooms looking for you. How funny it was when Ainsley said that she wanted "the bed in poop" when she was trying to say she wanted the float in the pool. How we all watched the video of her twerking over and over and laughed until we hurt. (It was that day that Brandon and I realized just what we were in for with that little princess.) I hope you look past the meltdowns and days that you got your butts kicked by a 2 year old and see the real Ainsley that is trying to come out. I hope you understand that your sister loves you more than anything and just doesn't know how to show it sometimes.
I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, nothing is left to chance. Our life is not perfect. What fun would perfect be?? I know that when you are faced with hardships and struggles as adults you will look back and know without a doubt that you can overcome it. I wish you could have had a few more years of innocence, of believing that the world is perfect and nothing bad will ever happen. I know that in the long run you will benefit from more form all you have experienced that you would have any other way. I can't wait to see the people you are in 10, 20 or 30 years from now.