I have been blessed with unconditional love throughout my lifetime. I have experienced the unwavering love of my parents, grandparents and sister growing up. And now that I’m a mom, I can honestly say “I get it”. I’ve learned you don’t need to be a parent, though, to understand or experience that level of devotion. Many people have the capacity to love others, aside from their parents and children with deep love and fierce loyalty. Unconditional love, for me, means that you feel a powerful connection to another person’s soul, and a deep admiration and respect that nothing can shake. Forgiveness, although difficult at times, happens somewhat naturally when you possess an undying love for another person. I have been blessed to say I receive and give unconditional love to many people in my life. As a mom, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the unconditional love between my own children. Sure, sibling rivalry is an actual thing. Not all brothers and sisters feel a close connection. Some argue a lot and still love each other very much. Sadly, others did not grow up close or may be estranged from one another as adults. That’s exactly why I am so grateful for the bond between Matthew and Faith.
From the beginning, Matthew was so proud and excited to become a big brother.
I heard a lot about a new baby coming into a family often making the older child feel jealous. They inevitably give up some of the attention when another child comes along. As a result, jealousy can turn to resentment, years of bickering or competing for attention. Matthew was only 4, so I had to get creative when talking to him about a new baby coming along. I wanted to build him up as much as possible so he would never feel slighted or loved any less. I took advantage of every opportunity that came along during my pregnancy, to make it all about him. Instead of saying the baby this and the baby will need that, I would talk about all the wonderful things HE can do with her and for her. I told him how proud I was of him and the fact that since he was such a good boy I KNEW he’d be an amazing big brother. I explained that being a big-brother was an honor and a very important job. Knowing early on, that Faith had Down syndrome, we were able to discuss that too. I explained the baby as God’s gift to all of us. I told Matthew that she had an extra chromosome, which meant she would need a lot of help with learning things, but it also made her extra special. “What a great big brother you will be, Matthew!” I focused on how fun it would be for him and all the ways he would help her. He couldn’t wait! From the beginning, Matthew was so proud and excited to become Faith’s big brother. He took his job very seriously. Matthew would go on and on about all the things he would teach his little sister. When she was born, she had a feeding tube and needed open heart surgery. As you see pictured above, Matthew thought she was perfect! He promised to always look out for her and protect her. He has without a doubt, kept his four-year-old promise, all these years.
They have always been equally impressed by one another.
Words cannot accurately describe the fullness of my heart, when I see them look at each other. They have always played with each other so well. He would jump around, dance or make silly noises just to see her smile. Then he’d day, “Look Mommy! I made her smile!” And I’d respond with, “Of course you did buddy. That’s because you’re such a great brother and Faith loves you.” Matthew would do whatever he had to make her laugh. I continued to praise Matthew for always being a terrific big brother whenever he’d spend time with her. Both Matthew and Faith would watch each other’s baseball games with such excitement. Matthew was at every dance recital, horseback riding trail-a-thon, and Special Olympics event. Both showing excitement and pride for one another, clapping and cheering. There were many times over the years when someone mistreated Faith, made a nasty comment or questioned “what’s wrong with her?” Matthew always went into full-on protector mode and sprang to her defense. I again, praised him for protecting his sister. To this day, Faith idolizes Matthew and he simply adores her. They have always been equally impressed by the other.
Matthew never misses an opportunity to steal a hug from Faith. He can not get enough and she’s happy to oblige.
Today, Faith is 14 and Matthew is 18 years old. My heart overflows with love and pride to see them interact. It’s amazing to see how well he understands her, especially since she is non-verbal. He knows her sounds and behaviors and can quickly discern the problem and what to do about it. Matthew recently left for college, which is about 5 hours away. Although Faith cannot say with words how much she misses her brother, she signs for him often. Zoom meetings and face-time have been a Godsend. As hard as it is for me, to be without my son, part of me feels that it has been harder for the two of them to be apart. These two, in my opinion, are the epitome of unconditional love.
Keep in Touch
Do you have a deep sibling connection? Want to share your story? Drop your comments below. I’d love to hear about your relationship. I hope that our stories resonate with you and you are touched or inspired. Remember, always “Have a Little Faith”! Stay well!