Throughout the time that Matthew has been in the hospital, it has become apparent to me that as Jacob has gotten older, he has some real feelings about being Matthew's brother and all that has gone on with Matthew.
I am thankful that Jacob has wonderful teachers, an amazing speech therapist, and other adults in his life who are able to help me monitor how Jacob is doing. These adults have been safe for Jacob, and he often will seek them out to share his thoughts and feelings.
Jacob has made it clear that he feels safe when Matthew is in the hospital, and that he is worried when Matthew comes home. Jacob and I have been doing a lot of talking about this recently, and I have realized that it is important that I create a plan for when Matthew comes that keeps Jacob feeling safe.
Matthew's therapist at 4 Winds and I decided that it would be good to have Jacob and David come in to meet with her and Matthew while Matthew is still in the hospital. Because Jacob is so verbal, we decided to bring Jacob in to meet with Linda, the social worker, today and that we would bring David in next week.
I was amazed at how much Jacob shared. His thoughts are very clear, and he is very aware of how he feels. When Matthew gets angry, Jacob is scared. When a friend comes and takes him to their house, he feels better. Jacob needs to know that I will call someone if Matthew is angry, so that he can go to a friends house and feel safe. Also, Jacob was able to tell Matthew that he goes to my room when Matthew is mad, and he needs Matthew to stay out of there when Matthew is angry. This is Jacob and David's safe spot, and it is scary for him when Matthew comes in there.
Jacob was amazing at talking to Matthew. He told him how he feels, he shared that he misses him when Matthew is in the hospital, but that he likes that it is quiet at home, and not scary. I was so proud of Jacob and how he was able to take care of himself and verbalize his thoughts today. As the meeting was wrapping up, I was talking to Linda about having David come in to do a similar meeting. I asked Jacob if he thought that was a good idea, to which he said, "yes, David should come, I will come with him, he will like that". My heart melted. Jacob may be the youngest in my family, but he is aware that his brothers have some limits. He seems to be aware that in many ways Jacob takes care of David and speaks for both his thoughts, but also David's thoughts. Linda and I told Jacob that we will definitely have David come and meet with Matthew, and then asked him to tell David that meeting with Matthew is ok at the hospital, and that Matthew listened.
Well, we got home a few hours later and got David off the bus. David and Jacob immediately started playing, and as I walked by, I heard Jacob tell David, "you will meet with a lady at 4 winds. It is good. You will talk to Matthew. He will listen"
I could not believe how much Jacob had taken away from our meeting today, and how he shared it all with David. While David did not answer Jacob, I could tell that David was thinking about what Jacob said, and that David heard Jacob.
I am thankful that we have this next week to keep talking about what we will do when Matthew comes home. My first priority will be ensuring that Jacob and David know that I am aware that they need to feel safe. Even if Matthew is just yelling, he is loud and it can be scary. Matthew is so limited cognitively that he struggles to see that his actions have an impact on those around him. I truly believe that if Matthew had any control he would never want to scare his brothers or make them afraid, but sadly, Matthew's brain damage does not allow him to have the ability to stop himself when he is angry, so it is up to me to ensure that I do all I can to create time for Jacob and David to have calm and quiet even after Matthew comes home. I am in the process of enrolling Matthew in a respite program where he can go for a weekend, so that David and Jacob and I have a weekend each month to just be the 3 of us. To enjoy the quiet and predictabliity that is not always possible when Matthew is home.
Life is in many ways a balancing act when you are dealing with a child with mental health and developmental issues, and when you have more than one child to care for. I am thankful that Jacob is sharing his needs with me, so that I can ensure that each of my boys is getting what they need from me, and from the world around us. I am proud to be Jacob's mom. I know that I am raising a strong, little boy who will have a major impact on the world because of all that he learns from being david and Matthew's brother. I am impressed by Jacob's ability at the age of 5 to clearly state what he needs and to be able to talk to Matthew and tell him what he is afraid of. I am also proud of Jacob's ability to offer love and support to David as they travel this path together.
Today I am proud of my boys, all 3 of them! and I am beyond thankful for all of the lessons I have learned by simply being their mom.
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!