IMG_1807As I write the title to this post, I’m laughing, because one thing Sophie does not lack in is self-esteem. She’ll be dancing around the house, singing to herself a made up song, “I’m awesome, oh yeah, that’s right, I’m so, so awesome.   How can I be so awesome, I just am awesome!” Ha! And this will go on for minutes at a time. Well Sophia Pearl Shtein, I agree, you ARE awesome!

My first two posts were about Jackson, but how could I forget about my incredible, eight year old daughter, Sophia. Sophie and Jackson are 22 months apart, so for her whole young childhood, she’s been around Jackson’s Autism. It’s the normal of our house.

Sophie is wise beyond her years and understands that our family operates different than others. Her curiosity began early on, and she continues to voice her questions and emotions about Jackson, asking wonderful questions leading into deep discussions:

“Why can’t Jackson talk?”

“Why can’t we all go to Disneyland together as a family?”

“I wish Jackson wouldn’t go into my room to make a mess.”

“Why do we have to take 2 cars to our cousin’s birthday?”

“Why does Jackson get a playroom?”

“I wonder what Jackson’s voice is going to sound like when he talks?”

“Why can’t you take Jackson and me to the pool?”

“Why do you have to go to Panama with Jackson. Why can’t I go?”

“Why aren’t you teaching anymore?”

IMG_4938I have so much respect and love for Sophie’s patience, empathy and acceptance for Jackson. At her best, Sophie is in the playroom spinning hoops with Jackson, using her ‘mommy voice’ saying, “I’m gonna tickle you, J, watch out!” Sophie will spin Jackson around in the hot tub for Motor Boat, push him on the swing, go over concerned and ask him what’s wrong when he’s showing his intense energy and she loves to help him get into the car and buckle him up. In these moments, I’m so proud of the unconditional love Sophie shows Jackson. Though our household is far from typical, Sophie amazes me and is learning valuable life lessons, which will only make her stronger.

Every day is not sunshine, rainbows and roses for Sophie, but I do my best to flood her with love, and support whatever feelings she may be experiencing toward Jackson. I cheer her on when she’s interacting with, helping and loving on Jackson, and am there for her when she needs alone time and explanations of why Jackson does what he does.

Everyday, I modeling strength, leadership, courage, love, empathy and health, knowing Sophie is watching my every move. So when I hear consistently, “Mommy, I want to be just like you when I grow up,” my heart warms, and I know I’m doing something right. Sophie is a powerhouse, and I’m so fortunate to go through life with her and watch her grow into the capable human being she’s growing into.

To my beautiful, talented, smart Sophia Pearl Shtein, I couldn’t agree more, you are ‘Awesome,’ wise beyond your years, and I am blessed to be your Mommy!