Eight years ago tomorrow Madeline came into the world. She has always had a bit of a flare for drama and we should have known that by the kind of entry she made into our lives! Just like her little sister Ali, she was treated to jet plane ride to the city on the night of her birth and a lovely stay in the NICU. Madi has always been very resilient and was discharged and sent home with us a few days later. We were told that in time, we would find out what the damage might be. Thankfully, she appears to be very typical 8 year old now.
Madi is an amazing kid. It’s hard to understand what it must be like for her to be the older sister of a child with the kind of needs that Ali has. Madi lives in a home with a lot of stress and with two parents who spend a lot of their time stretched pretty thin. We try our best to make life as typical as we can for both of our children but it’s not always possible. Madi just rolls with it. She doesn’t question it. She loves her sister unconditionally and just does what she can to help. She often asks me what she can do. Can she do the dishes? Can she take the dogs out to play? Can she make her own lunch? Mostly, I ask her to entertain Ali so that I can get things done quickly, so she plays with her and reads to her and they run around the house like a herd of elephants.
Madi used to miss out on a lot for Ali. It’s just how it had to be. We’re a family, we all make sacrifices for each other when we need to (even Ali does). Now, Madi is just as active and social as any other kid her age and I’m very happy that our lives have settled down to the point that she can do more of the things that interest her! Madi is really enjoying her after school activities and is currently taking Gymnastics and Zumba. After Christmas, she wants to play basketball (we have a hoop at home and she loves to play with us) and she’s also interested in musical theater. She spends a lot of time out in our backyard playing with our dogs and she loves to read! She is really enjoying school and is doing well academically. She is still loving french immersion! She is apparently very enthusiastic and participates in whatever she can but she can’t pass up an opportunity to let someone know when they’ve offended her. I think she gets that from me. She also has a flare for drama. You don’t want to be standing next to her if someone uses a hand dryer in a public bathroom and you certainly don’t want to use one yourself in her presence and for god sakes, don’t give her too much sugar!!! She is a very kind, caring and polite little girl. She treats everyone with respect and tries very hard to make other people smile. We are incredibly proud of her. We probably don’t say it enough but we’re very lucky that Madi is exactly who Madi is (although she does know exactly how to push my buttons).
The other day, Madi and I were talking about her new baby cousin that is on the way and she asked if she’d ever be an aunt. We talked about Ali and about Costello Syndrome and in the end I told her that I didn’t think she would ever be an Aunt to her sister babies. I said that it makes me sad both to know that she won’t be an Aunt and also to know that Ali won’t be a mom and Madi said, “That’s okay, she’ll help me with my babies”. A little while later they were playing dolls and I heard her tell Ali that she could always help her with her babies even if she didn’t have any of her own. That’s the kind of kid that Madi is and that’s why we love her so much.
So, to the little girl who made me a mom for the very first time (and caused me to pee my pants when I sneeze), happy 8th birthday. You are an amazing kid and we are so lucky to have you! We love you!