Sibling Love Makes Mattie’s World Go ‘Round

When Mattie’s birth mom choose our family, one of the reasons that she chose us was because we had lots of kids. She grew up alone and didn’t want Mattie to be lonely.

I assure you, this boy is NOT lonely!

I firmly believe the Lord direct her heart, knowing all that Mattie would face, and knowing how VITAL the love of a big family would be to his healing.

I cannot tell you how much I believe that a HUGE part of Mattie’s growth and progress since he has been home has been because of his amazing siblings.

The eldest and the youngest taking a Sunday afternoon nap on the floor. Nick doesn’t live at home now, but he comes by on lunch break, after work, on the weekends, and he always gets his “Mattie” fix. Mattie loves his facial hair and always grabs for his chin. Nick’s often wears a cap, and Mattie is quick to pull it off. They tease and play and they simply LOVE! Nick and his girlfriend Amy can often be found pulling “Mattie duty” when they come by on the weekend to help. He adores them both!

Taylor hangs out with Mattie and I quite a bit in the evenings. Taylor adores this sweet little man, and gets such a kick out of all of his crazy expressions. The most common words out of Taylor’s mouth are, “Oh Mattie, you are SOOOO cute!”  Taylor was with me the first time Mattie ever sat up on his own, and we were both going nuts trying to catch a photo of his big milestone. Mattie lights up when Taylor walks into the room. It is just amazing to me how he has such a unique and special bond with each one of his siblings.

This girl is beyond words. My darlin’ Isabelle is a top-knotch, big sister extraordinare ! She has stood by my side as my extra set of eyes and hands many a time, including, on more than one occasion, helping me resuscitate her precious brother when he had turned a lovely shade of “blue.” As a matter of fact, one day a few months ago, I asked her to change Mattie’s diaper. We paused for a moment and then both laughed knowingly, as we realized she had NEVER changed his diaper. She said, “MOM! I’ve bagged him, suctioned him, helped change his trach, run his feeding tube, but I have NEVER changed his DIAPER!”

A natural teacher and care giver at heart, she has learned more from this little guy than any classroom could teach!

This is Aiden reconnecting Mattie’s vent tubing, after Mattie had rolled over and “popped it off.” Yes, my 6 year old with Down syndrome, caring and loving on his brother without fear and with incredible tenderness.

These two are quite a pair. Aiden has adored Mattie from the word GO! They have a secret bond, a connection like none other. I still remember the delight in Aiden’s eyes a few months back when he realized that he and Mattie both have Down syndrome. It was the most precious thing ever.

Aiden is a little possessive of this baby brother of his. He is very protective and very “in charge.” He corrects Mattie firmly when he is “naughty.” He helps him learn sign language, reads books to him, stacks block towers, and mostly just loves every ounce of him. They are wrestling buddies and can often be found tumbling around in a pile together!

Emma is our early riser and is often the first one to greet Mattie (or at least check on him if he’s still asleep) in the mornings. She loves to come play with him and he immediately grabs her face and pulls her down toward him. She is a fantastic bath time helper and loves to watch me do trach care and hand me things that I need or hold Mattie’s hands out of the way for me.

There is nothing like giving a child who has special needs, the opportunity to care for another child with special needs. She loves feeling like a helper! And if you look at that face, you can tell he adores her! To this day, every time Emma knows that I am leaving the house to take Mattie to a doctor’s appointment, she says, “… and bring him home?” The memories and intensity of life in the hospital are still close to all of our hearts.

Elia is such an amazing big sister. She loves to read to Mattie, play games with him, and simply adores him. She is always home from school when his therapist comes to the house and she takes great pride in helping with Mattie’s physical therapy sessions! She loves teaching him sign language and is so proud of her little brother!

My kids have all learned from Mattie and he has learned from them. They have learned to love, to give, and to teach. They have learned how to celebrate the small victories and the large miracles. They have learned to pray and to trust God when things were very hard and quite scary.

Mattie has learned that love is around every corner. He has learned that he is adored. Cherished. He has had Littles there next to him to model play, teach sign language, read books, and stack blocks. He has been eye to eye with love, and it has literally nourished his body. He has been blessed with Olders who have learned to care for his advanced medical needs without fear. They adore him. They know all of his silly little expressions and know how to make him laugh- his deep, infectious, full of JOY laugh.

We are a family. Families love and grow together. Having a medically fragile child can at times make the world very small. We haven’t had a family vacation in 2 years. Family outings require a bit more effort than, “Hey everyone, go jump in the van!” We cherish every moment though. Every milestone, every event, whether big or small, is celebrated. My children have made more sacrifices and have loved BIGGER than you could even begin to understand. But their reward has been great! So great! 

My children are simply amazing. I am so blessed. So very, very blessed.


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