I See You, My Ghost Child

“Mom, I don’t want to be a princess for Halloween anymore, I want to be a ghost!”


This declaration hits me like a punch to the gut.  I mean, Lady can be whatever she wants for Halloween; the costume itself has absolutely nothing to do with my reaction to this seemingly innocuous statement.  It’s the use of the word “ghost” that makes me cringe and break out into a cold sweat.


“You’re already like a little ghost,” I think to myself, sadly.


Did you know, dear readers, that I have a daughter too?  I write about Man all of the time — hell, my blog is called MANvsMommy, but I so rarely write about his sister, my sweet Lady who is 18 months his junior.


My fiery Lady

I did not coin the term “ghost child” myself, but I am quite familiar with it.  This term refers to the siblings of children with special needs.  Their parents are often required to dedicate so much time to their brother or sister that they are forced to be more independent than they should be at their age.


Lady has an unbelievable maturity about her.  It is unclear if this is because she is a girl, she was born this way, or because her older brother requires so much more of my time that she is forced to be this way.  It’s likely a mix of all of these factors.  However, there are times when as a four-year-old, she acts as such.  You can see her independence failing her and her need to have her mom’s attention pushes itself to the forefront.  Who can blame her?  She, like Man, is simply a child who needs her mom.


I want you to know, Lady, that I see you.


I see how amenable and flexible you are because you understand how much I struggle with Man some days.


I gaze at you happily eating all of your dinner, no matter what I put in front of you, because you see how much time I spend trying to get Man to eat.


I feel how happy you are just to sit next to me, no matter what I’m doing, just to be in my presence.


I see you pick out your clothes and get dressed and tidy your toys without me even asking.


I watch you let your brother go first… every time, just to keep the peace.


I am in awe of how long you can sit and entertain yourself, because I am otherwise occupied.


I am grateful for the smile you put on my face every day.


I feel incredibly guilty that there are some days when your needs come last.  I hope one day to be able to make this up to you.


I am struck by your uncanny ability to know just when I need a random hug or a secretly whispered, “I love you, mommy.”


I try my hardest to carve out special time just for the two of us, though probably not often enough.


I admire your independence.  At four, you are more independent than I, your parent, will ever be.


I see your sadness when I have to leave you to take Man to one of his many appointments.  I hear you question why you don’t have as many appointments with mommy as he does. I listen to you beg to go with us and not quite understand why you have to stay home.


I watch your happiness every day. Absolutely nothing gets you down.  Luckily, you have inherited this trait from your dad.


I take notice of the words you choose to use when you try and help soothe your brother from a total meltdown.  The care you take of him is exceptional.  Your understanding of his challenges, without truly understanding them, is nothing close to miraculous.



Her love for her brother is fierce.


Your inner and outer beauty makes me shine.


Your, “whatever Man can do, I can do too” attitude makes me joyous.


The little girl that you are now and the woman that I know you will become one day makes me proud to be your mother.


I glow as I watch the command you have over every room you walk into.  You are larger than life in a most innocent and purposeful way.


I can promise you, my Lady, that I will always be there for you no matter what—that when you truly need me, I will be by your side, as I am for your brother in his times of need.


I see you.  I see all of you.  You are not a ghost; you are my daughter and I love you.



Silliest girl EVER

10 thoughts on “I See You, My Ghost Child

  1. Knowing Lady and what an exceptional person she is, I am brought to tears reading this. She is so strong and so humane and she not only gets this from Dad but from you, as well. I know that she intuitively sees your struggles which are a result of the love you have for Man. She models the caring, the strength and the craving for understanding that you exhibit. You are raising two different but wonderful children who benefit every day from your grit and intelligence and your desire to give them the best the world has to offer.

    You are a hero…and don’t forget it!

  2. I have a ghost child myself. He turns 6 tomorrow. I want almost nothing more than to give him the most fantastic birthday tomorrow but as usual no plans have been made because of brother. My 6 yo neuro typical child was a “surprise.” And is maybe the best thing that has happened to me. He is God’s gift to me, telling me after my 1st experience that I *am* a good mom.

  3. As I read this, I thought “wow this is my daughter” . She has a twin and older sister with special needs. She is just about 3 years old and unbelievably Amazing! This post is our family right down to she wants to be a ghost for Halloween (even though she will scare herself with her own costume..haha). She is her twins voice most days and as young as she is she is his advocate! She is a best friend to both her siblings! She is a pure joy!!
    Thank you for writing this! I Get so mad at myself most days that I don’t give her the attention she wants and needs. And I try so hard. I really needed to read this today. It came at the perfect time!!! Thank you again!

  4. Thanks for expressing how I feel daily when I see my 10 yr old son quietly leave the room. He has 6 yr old twin brothers with ADHD/anxiety/OCD, and every day is a rollercoaster.

  5. I’m sure you are an inspiration for many. You have such a special relationship with your daughter. All the hard work and preserverance through challenges will be payed in having wonderful children grow into awesome adults that you can be very proud of. Yet you still find time to help others you are storing treasure,s in heaven and may you recieve all the blessings this world has to offer

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