I’m a big sister with a big job. And some of you are too. I’ve always said that once I’m a grown up with a ph.D. and a big girl job that I’m going to do research on the siblings of people with disabilities. I’ve always wondered what we all end up doing. What everyone’s lives turn out like. My guess is that a large percentage of us end up being nurses, teachers, doctors or caretakers. Maybe a few disability lawyers thrown in there. And, yes. I said us. I’m a part of the statistic too. Without a doubt, majority of us have a job that helps, but even more so, a job that serves. Maybe some end up as special education teachers, like I did. That being said, it’s no surprise to me the way that my life ended up. I have a younger sister with autism, and I am now a special education teacher in a class for students with moderate to severe disabilities. Even though I have a long way to go, and I’m just getting started in my career, I know that I’ll always have this passion. It’ll always be a mission inside of me, and I don’t foresee myself ever leaving this field anytime soon. The internet is flooded with information and tips and blogs and social media accounts and podcasts for parents of people with disabilities. People with disabilities have an ever-growing presence on social media (which is amazing and so needed!!). But from my research, there isn’t much for the siblings of people with disabilities. Let me just say, if you’re a sibling to someone with a disability, no matter what it may be, and you’re searching for help, or information, or connections, let this be it. You were born for this.
I recently got engaged to the person I started dating at 15. I’m now 23, going on 24. We’re getting married in two months, and my sister will be a part of the wedding with us. During our engagement pictures, we had my sister there with us, and we surprised her with her own ring, asking her to be in our wedding with us. While she was over the moon excited about the new ring, her response to being in our wedding was, “Another day.” And if you know Jordyn, then you know how typical of a response that was for her. Jordyn will be just as much of a part of this day as me and my fiance will be. She has her own wedding registry of things she wants to keep at our condo. She will wear a white dress, and she will walk down the aisle with me. While I’m the one legally getting married, this day is about her too. Because I’m a big sister with a big job.
Somehow, I got lucky. I missed out on the “why me” stage that many siblings of people with disabilities go through. Somehow I have seen the beauty and joy and mystery in this life from the very beginning. I loved it so much that I decided to get two, going on three degrees in this “life.” While many people grow up to resent the fact that their lives revolve around being a sibling to someone with a disability, I’m thankful for it, because it’s made me who I am. It gave me my passion, and I wouldn’t be who I am without Jordyn. I love her, and I also love who she has made me. I love this life. After posting the pictures on FaceBook, we were flooded with the sweetest responses. One of the frequent responses was along of the lines of what a great sister I was and what a good heart my fiance must have. Yes, he has a heart of gold, and yes, I do try to be a good sister, but my hope is that we can change this perspective. We’re not doing anything special or noteworthy here. I’m just a big sister with a big job. And he’s a big sister’s soon-to-be husband with an even bigger job. We are serving in the way that was appointed to us. For some reason, God saw it fit to gift us these jobs. And we’re just doing them.
It’s pretty agreed upon that parents have the hardest and most important jobs when it comes to raising a human. They’re given the big stuff. Making sure the kid has food, shelter, and clothes, making sure they stay safe and healthy. Siblings get the fun stuff. The job of a sibling of someone with a disability is to make sure that they get all of life’s most fun opportunities. Like making sure they have someone to twin with during high school spirit week, making sure their prom nights are just as memorable as their own, making sure their outfits always look good (when they sometimes have very questionable fashion choices), and making sure that they get their chance to walk down the aisle in a white dress.
I spoke earlier about Jordyn’s “another day” response when we asked her to be in our wedding. Jordyn has a shirt that says, “It’s too peopley outside.” This is the perfect shirt for her. Everyday it’s too cold, hot, windy, late, rainy, stormy, sunny, or too early to do something. Whatever that something is. Sometimes this big sister job makes me force her out of the house with me, attitude in towe, when she doesn’t want to at first. She always has fun. A hard no is always an option, but this is my big sister big job…not letting her miss out on things that I know she will love. It’s such a fun job, and I’m so thankful that it’s my job. Thankfully, I’m marrying a man who has adopted it as his job too. He wasn’t appointed this job, like I was. He chose it, which is even bigger.
Siblings…don’t underestimate the power of your job! You were born for it. These things don’t happen by chance. Your job is huge, and maybe even bigger than any other job you’ll ever have. Think of all of the things that you want for your life, and make sure your sibling gets them too. Everyone wants friends, fun experiences, and good memories. Make it happen. But most importantly, make it happen together.
P.s. Our wedding day will be so special and fun for all three of us, but if you want to help make Jordyn’s day a little more special, she has her own registry on Amazon of things that she will leave at mine and Tanner’s condo. Here is the link if anyone wants to help make the day a little brighter. https://www.amazon.com/registries/custom/3IUCV61VSL8C8/guest-view