Dear J,

You came home from your break away; your very own little holiday.

A few nights for you and just you - something daddy and I encourage you to avail of whenever the opportunity arises.

You asked me how was everything while you were heart skipped a beat...did I do this?

Have I encouraged you to carry the weight of a carer on your slender ten-year-old shoulders?

I smiled at you and assured you, that while you were missed, we were all just fine.  

I watched you pat Ethan's head while you told him you missed him, only to be told to "fug off".

You laughed.

You grabbed your baby brother and kissed him. 

He wriggled and laughed as you tickled him.

"Will I change Ethan's channel on his TV mom?" you glanced at the sitcom beginning on Ethan's TV.

You even know what will hold your 13-year-old brother's attention. 

"Here Ethie, Spongebob is on", you began to sing the theme tune (just like I do.)

Have I taught you how to be Ethan's carer?

I swallowed hard and insisted you sit down and watch something that you would like to watch, while I sang and danced with Ethan.

"You know, I missed him mam, I don't mind. Go make a coffee" you gave me the thumbs up.

I watched the two of you jumping and laughing as Spongebob played loudly in the background.

The toddler came over to join in, only to be pushed away by Ethan.

You reacted immediately. 

I stood in the doorway, ready to intervene.

I didn't need to though; you had managed to get Ethan engrossed in Spongbob while you cuddled the toddler, gently telling him- "Ethan didn't mean it" (my words; which I have spent years saying to you)

You smiled at me while I watched you.

"I think Ethie may have made a stinker mam!" you pinched your nose, which made me laugh.

You are funny, J. 

You make me laugh... a lot.

You brought Ethan by the hand and lead him to the toilet while I followed.

"Have you everything you need mam?"

I nodded as I began the process of cleaning Ethan.

"Come on D and we go play cars" I heard your voice, your happy, cheerful voice.

Later, when the two boys were put to bed you sat beside me and told me all about your holiday.

You waited until you knew you had me all to yourself; experience has taught you this.

You told me of how you helped your grandad in his vegetable garden, how you found a birds nest and then got in trouble for trying to remove the nest. 

You told me of all the late night movies you and your aunt watched. 

You reminded me of my mother's cooking and how delicious it was and suggested perhaps I could take a cooking lesson from her!

We both laughed.

You asked me next time if you could bring your medications with you, the morning 'stuff' and the nighttime 'stuff'  as you found it hard without them.

You told me that you missed Dad and I, but you really didn't miss the noise in our house, you quickly asked if that was ok to say.

I nodded and rubbed your soft hair.

You went up to bed with your beautiful smile plastered on your handsome face; you were happy you got 'mam' all to yourself.

You had waited all day to tell me your stories - I know that is a hard thing for you to do J.

I know, J, that it is not easy being Ethan's big little brother.

I know it is not easy to live with ADHD. 

I know you find it hard.

I am sorry, J.

I'm sorry you have had to stay away from your home when we are all up in Dublin (at the children's hospital)

I am so so very sorry that we've missed your school plays, your school masses, your school sports days over the years because of having appointments that we can't cancel.

I am sorry you've had to miss parties, family gatherings and seasonal outings due to Ethan's needs.  

I am sorry that Ethan gets more attention; I wish he didn't. 

I wish he was just like you J, but he isn't and he never will be - I know you know this.

I am sorry it feels like sometimes we don't ask you how you feel; I am trying really hard to work on that one, my buddy, I really am.

Most of all J, I am sorry that you know how to manage Ethan at the tender age of 10. 

I am sorry you know all about 'meltdowns' and calming techniques; medications his and yours; treatments and therapies; doctors and specialists; ERT and Hunter Syndrome-- I wish you didn't know any of it.

You are a great brother; not because of Ethan, not because of all the things you know about Ethan, but because you are you J, you are just wonderful J.

Thank you J for being you,

Love Mammy



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