As you may gather from a month's worth of posts, diabetes can take over a household. With the hour-by-hour care and the daily monitoring, it just kind of weaves itself into the fabric of the family. Kind of like brushing your teeth.
I have learned to live with it. I am hoping to make it as seamless as possible for Rocco because even after I am gone, he will still have Type 1 diabetes, at least for now. If I can present it as a necessary routine throughout his childhood, I hope I am training him to think of it this way as he becomes an adult. I spend my days working with him so that in adulthood his life with Type 1 diabetes will just be a natural part of his routine. If I fight it, he will too. If I hate it, he will too. So, I try to remain diligent and optimistic, even on the toughest days.
However, the part about diabetes that shakes me to my core is not actually about Rocco or even my own feelings about it. It is about Zeke. My precious Zeke.
Zeke is simple. He is easy. He is brave. He is the kind of kid that just goes with the flow. He has about five things that he really cares about (activities and various toy things) and the rest is just static to him. His greatest joy is receiving gifts that relate to his five favorite things. He feels loved when he gets gifts. Maybe their playroom is an outward representation of my “mother's guilt”. The room is packed with many variations of the five things he likes.
He is a joy to raise and I love him with everything I've got!
If I were to really dig deep and pull out the one negative in my life that I am suppressing, it is the guilt I feel for giving more attention to Rocco than I do Zeke. Of course, Zeke's laid back nature and Rocco's immediate medical needs are the reasons for this. But, I know it is still happening and those are just excuses. They are good excuses, but they are still excuses and do no good for Zeke. Zeke deserves better.
He does because he just rolls with it. He never complains about how his life has to change when diabetes calls us into action. He never complains when Rocco's blood sugar gets too high or too low and his twin brother yells at him or gets frustrated with him. He somehow understands that it is only the blood sugar talking. Maybe it is a twin thing, but maybe it is because he is just so compassionate. On the weekends, he just runs around town with Michael, Rocco and I even though he would rather leave the crowds behind and stay home to have me read to him. He just goes with it.
I usually tell myself that I don't work outside of my home because Rocco needs me at a moment's notice,but maybe that is not the whole truth. Certainly I know that if I had an outside job, Rocco's care, taking care of the household needs and oh yeah, paying attention to my husband, would all suffer. But I also know that if I worked, there would be even less of me for Zeke. I feel that because he has been so amazing in dealing with diabetes, I owe him. As much of me as I can give.
As every mother does, when I lay my head down at night and go over the day's checklist, Zeke is the one that I wonder about.
Dishes - check!
Laundry - check!
Homework - check!
Lunches - check!
Blood sugars - check!
Zeke - ummmm.... check?
I am banking on the fact that if you are present, loving and there for your kids, they will feel loved. If you tell them they are special, kind, smart, strong and make good choices they will be special, kind, smart, strong and make good choices. I remember Oprah saying that every time you yell at your kids, it changes who they are. So I try not to yell at them. I am hoping that my approach will give Zeke (and Rocco) the necessary basics to go confidently in the direction of their dreams.
Whenever I meet a twin or other sibling of someone with diabetes, I always ask, "What is the one thing you wish your mom did better?" They usually say something like "Don't dress us the same" or "Don't askmy brother what his blood sugar is the minute we walk in the door from school". Then I ask, "Did you ever feel like your brother gets all your mom's attention because of his diabetes?" I am happy to say that every sibling will pull his head back and kind of look at me like I have four eyes and say,"Nooo!" Never!"They also may get a little sad and say that they felt bad that their sibling has diabetes and that their mom does a good job with them both. Based on these reactions, maybe it’s just natural that siblings will accept the situation and just carry on, just like Zeke.
I wonder if Zeke will ever feel bad that Rocco got it and he didn't. One time this came up. Zeke said, "Why did Rocco get diabetes and I didn't?" I said, "Because God gave you reflux instead". We all laughed and moved on to fart jokes. For once, I was glad for a fart joke.
I am not sure how Zeke will feel in his adult life, I only hope and pray that he will feel as loved as his brother because, of course, he is. Right now, his compassion for his brother's pain is unwavering. The teacher's comment to me the day of their conference was spot on. She said that he loves his brother and when something unusual is happening to Rocco with his diabetes, Zeke gets up from his chair and looks over to ensure that Rocco is okay. It’s nice that someone else sees him the way I do. She said if they were separated into different classes next year, Zeke may feel uneasy that he couldn’t see Rocco to make sure he was good.
As mothers we try every day to make sure each of our kids feel loved, protected and safe. I think God gave us mother's guilt to help keep us honest. To stay true to raising these little gifts with everything we've got!
I know I can always do better for both of them, but I also think that mother’s guilt will make me better for both of them. Mother’s guilt is like a built-in instinct that I can trust. I am counting on it to guide me into loving Zeke just a little deeper every day.
So Happy D-kid sibling day Zeke! You deserve an ice cream!
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