I realized the other day—as I watched Vivian quietly play by herself—how fast she is growing-up. My heart breaks when I think about how quickly she is forced to learn many of the harder lessons life has to offer. Vivian doesn’t seem to mind and her optimistic attitude always helps me put the latest disappointment in perspective. I love both of the ladies but I fear that being Caroline’s mom is eroding my relationship with Vivian and I know that Vivian’s childhood is being shortened by being Caroline’s sister.
Vivian has recently come to the painful realization that Caroline will not play her. So far that has not stopped Vivian from grabbing Caroline’s and trying to get her dance but each time Caroline refuses– she pushes Vivian further away. Vivian asked me the other day, “Why won’t Caroline ever play with me, even when I try to come up with things I think she would want to do?” I did my best to choke the tears as I explained that Caroline loves Vivian but because of Caroline’s autism it is really hard for her to play with other people. Vivian responded, “That makes me sad.” It makes me sad, too; so sad.
Vivian frequently—especially over the summer—attends Caroline’s medical and therapy appointments. These appointments can be very long and sometimes require Vivian to sit quietly for long periods of time. Other times, Vivian is used demonstrate activities. Caroline is much more likely to engage after Vivian completes the task. Vivian never complains about demonstrating for Caroline whether it is at a therapy appointment or even a doctor appointment. But I think Vivian has high expectations for these appointments as the other day she asked, “Caroline sees lots of doctors and has lots of therapists when is going to get better?” I explained that Caroline’s autism is not something that goes away but we see doctors and therapists to help Caroline. I so wanted to ask Vivian what she meant by “get better” but I was too scared of her answer to actually ask.
The other day, Vivian asked me “Why can’t today be a happy day?” as I was trying to spend some quality with her before she started school. I was exhausted, I was stressed, I had a short fuse. I explained to Vivian that I was sorry for being grumpy but that I am really tired and have a lot on mind. She said, “It’s okay mom, but you should count 50 if you feel yourself getting mad.” Yes, yes I should. I rallied after that comment and Vivian and I enjoyed an hour together—an hour where I acted like I was not stressed out and sleep deprived—because Vivian deserves more than the leftover mommy she normally gets.
Since Thelma—my dad—has left we are left with very little support. And as John’s new school year has started life is more stressful than normal. But after Vivian’s comment about “happy day” I took a minute to find a doctor and went to get a new prescription for anti-depressants. (I went off shortly after the move because I didn’t have time to find a doctor.) I am trying to cope with the stress of Caroline’s increasing aggression—mostly targeted toward me—and all the other challenges of being Caroline’s mom without destroying my relationship with Vivian. It is a struggle every single day.