Here's the deal. We don't do a lot of date nights because we are vigilant about preserving our time together each night. The bedtime ritual is preserved for two reasons: to promote some sort of sleep and to preserve the sanctity of this marriage. So this summer, when the 9 year old started staying up later and later (or else battling "insomnia") I have to say that a bit of my selfish wife heart wasn't always as patient as it could be. Sometimes I rush everyone a bit so I can exhale and hang with Ryan.
We've started this routine with the 9 year old Molly since she needs to stay up. Ryan and I each climb into bed with her and then we do a couple word finds together before she buries her nose in a book. Last night after we finished our games, Molly was worrying that she may not pass level 3 in swim lessons, but that Etienne most certainly will (the kid is growing gills). How embarrassing to have your kid brother surpass you in anything right?
I told her that swimming is the only thing that has ever come easy to Etienne. I told her listening, cooperating, learning his letters and his numbers and colors, all of it is difficult. We talked about how it's hard for Etienne to fit in anywhere, to make friends or to feel like he belongs. Swimming is natural, easy and he doesn't have to work hard at it. This is something he needs the rest of us to be so excited about for him. Reality is that a lot of E's life will require more effort than the rest of us need.
She shared her guilt. Her guilt that he frustrates her so much and that she feels so bad when she gets angry at him. Than she said what took me at least two years to get. "If he makes everything in life a joke than he won't ever feel bad about anything."
We told her we wished we could take away her guilt. We also told her that we don't wish it to be any differently because her compassion and her comprehension of what true love means is so beautiful. We told her that God knew she could do this and he saw something in her that he gave her this brother. What feels like a burden a lot of the time is such an enormous gift.
Seriously, I didn't know my heart could be ripped out, stomped into a million pieces and reformed again and again and again. Oh, my sweet girl. You too break my heart with your pain and your knowledge of how big life is. This too shall pass. In His time.