Being a parent to a child like Maeve comes with so many challenges. Every holiday, birthday or really any old celebration, causes me so much anxiety. Both of my girls celebrated their birthdays recently. My eldest begins the countdown to her big day about 364 days in advance. This requires a lot of planning and organizing. I have to make sure that things are as close to perfect as possible. When it comes to my youngest, it can be a complete guessing game. But one thing that I have discovered over the last 7 years is that with Maeve it really does not need to be so complicated. All she wants is the same love and attention that her sister gets when her special day rolls around.
I’m often accused of being a Pinterest mom, which I DESPISE. I am actually not very creative, therefore I’m incapable of coming up with ideas on my own. Pinterest has become my go-to destination to steal other people’s creativity. I laugh when people say it, but it does annoy me. It is always said in a joking manner, but I am not naive. I can sense what is not actually being said out loud, in the way it is delivered. To me it implies that perhaps I have too much time on my hands in my boring little life. Pfft. These bags under my eyes are there for a reason people! I tend to go over the top in an attempt to make up for Maeve being neglected and ignored by the rest of the world, or Ofeibea missing out on things due to so much attention being focused on her little sister. While other people are planning their family vacations or attending their children’s extracurricular activities, I’m over here pretending that our life is normal making homemade decorations and elaborate themed loot bags. If I don’t do these things for my kids, who will? My husband was raised believing that birthdays aren’t a big deal, whereas I believe it is cause for celebration. So it falls on me to overcompensate.
Ofeibea has her voice and words, and has no problem telling the world what she wants (aka expects) for her birthday. Such a big fuss is made about it. I don’t mind, she is such a good kid and truly deserves it. However when it comes to Maeve, the sensitive part of me can’t help but feel like she is often the forgotten one. I’m sure many people will feel like all of this trouble is unnecessary because they feel that she isn’t even aware of what is going on. I refuse to underestimate what she does and does not understand. I know in my heart that it is not up to anyone other than me to ensure that we keep things “even” between the two girls, especially since their birthdays are only 11 days apart. She lights up when you sing happy birthday, and flaps and giggles at the sight of the birthday cake candles. But I can’t help but notice that when it comes to Maeve, there are fewer phone calls and no surprise gift drop-offs or balloons. I put so much pressure on myself to make sure she feels equally as loved as her big sister. People wouldn’t dream of doing that to Ofeibea. Everyone goes out of their way to make her feel special. I get anxious every year, because I know that there will not be the same fanfare for Maeve. The protective mom in me anticipates this, so I try to make it extra special for her as well. If only people loved her the way we do, and really took the time to get to know her little personality. I would NEVER expect anyone to buy Maeve anything, this is not about gifts. This is about people taking the time to really get to know her and not minimizing her feelings and what she understands. Just acknowledge her special day. Let her know that she is just as important as everyone else.
Sometimes I feel as though people are afraid to get to know her, always feeling as though they are doing something wrong and will upset her. People believe that she is more fragile than she is. She may not jump for joy and express her gratitude in the same way that her sister would, but that’s just Maeve. She processes things differently. Get to know her, and you will understand that she loves to be included, spoiled, treasured like any other child. Is it up to anyone else to go out of their way, to go above and beyond like they do for her older sister? No, of course not. I’ll admit that I often feel forced into reassuring people that it’s okay when they forget Maeve’s birthday: “Maeve would understand”. I do grow tired of having to be the one to make people feel better about these things when they feel guilty. If you know it’s shitty and you are choosing to excuse it by minimizing what she understands, then that’s on you. Don’t put it on me. I’m too busy struggling to make up for everyone ignoring her and pretending she doesn’t exist. Sure it may take extra effort to truly know and understand kids like Maeve, but it is so worth it.
I am a stay-at-home mom in my 40s, still finding it hard to believe that this is my title in life. Mom of two young girls and married to a pilot (in other words… part time single parent). I am ‘Auntie Boom’ to Willowjak, and have the tattoo to prove it! My youngest was diagnosed with autism at 2, and finally a rare genetic disorder called DDX3X at 5. I’m almost always tired, and I feel as though my goal in life is to survive. I’m sure that I am not alone on this quest.