Zach & Addie: A Sibling Relationship of Love, Pride, Support and Joy

I am the luckiest mom in the world. Even on the hardest days, I believe that sentence with 100 percent of my being. Being the mother to Zachary and Addison is such an incredible experience that I treasure every day.

I always wanted a house full of children; I always wanted a Christmas dinner with so many chairs around the table that it took 10 minutes to pass the potatoes from one end to the other. I wanted my kiddos to have a support system around them always and to go through life with some best friends who share blood.

And then reality set in and quite honestly, between health concerns and back-to-back difficult labors and deliveries and moving for Scott’s job multiple times when the children were babies, having more than our two awesome kiddos just wasn’t in the cards for us.

Wendy Zook Photography | Down Syndrome Awareness, Down Syndrome family, sibling with Down Syndrome, siblings, brother and sister, parent of child with Down Syndrome, DS awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | Down Syndrome Awareness, Down Syndrome family, sibling with Down Syndrome, siblings, brother and sister, parent of child with Down Syndrome, DS awareness

I wasted a lot of unnecessary time wondering if having Zachary for her brother would ever feel like a burden or “too much” for Addie. Looking back now, it’s one of the things that Current Me would most want to slap Past Me in the face for -- I see now that they are each ridiculously lucky to have the other for a sibling.

I don’t know what the future holds for the two of them as a team. There’s a possibility that one day, we will have to officially ask Addie to care for her brother when he’s an adult. There’s a possibility that she will be teased herself about her brother. There’s a chance that there will be moments of annoyance or frustration. There are other possibilities that I can’t even allow myself to say or think out loud, but they lie in a deep dark place.

But what I do know is that now -- right now -- they are each other’s rock.

Addie is an empathetic, wise, big-feelings kind of girl. She wants everyone to be happy and to feel loved and the biggest recipient of her big heart is her big brother. If he’s upset, she’s right next to him rubbing his back. If he has a boo-boo, she’s on an immediate quest for a band-aid. If he’s nervous or trying something new, she is clapping and cheering him on.

This past year has seen a lot of moments with big talks -- about Down syndrome, therapists and special treatments, treating all people the same, bullying and teasing and so much more. It’s a delicate balance of being honest and yet delivering it in an appropriate way for a 7-year-old. She asks amazing questions. I always answer with a pause and complete truths.

But it’s not just Zachary that wins a cheerleader in this situation. 

Wendy Zook Photography | Down Syndrome Awareness, Down Syndrome family, sibling with Down Syndrome, siblings, brother and sister, parent of child with Down Syndrome, DS awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | Down Syndrome Awareness, Down Syndrome family, sibling with Down Syndrome, siblings, brother and sister, parent of child with Down Syndrome, DS awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | Down Syndrome Awareness, Down Syndrome family, sibling with Down Syndrome, siblings, brother and sister, parent of child with Down Syndrome, DS awareness

I talk to adults who have siblings with special needs and the one thing they always say is that having their brother or sister in their lives has made them a better person. Their parents say both siblings learn compassion earlier and bigger than most kids.

If Zach is not wanting to do homework for me or with me, 9 out of 10 times he’ll do it immediately if Addie helps him. If Addie is sad, Zach is trying to be silly and make her laugh. They share with each other -- the last of favorite snack, a dollar from their piggybank, a sweatshirt on a cold day, toys and games to borrow. They read together, help each other with showers, hold hands almost all the time and constantly try to surprise the other with a kind note or gesture or surprise. If one has a day with mom or dad alone and the other is at home, the one who is out and about will always ask to bring something back for the other. They request sleepovers constantly and frequently read a book together before bed.

Photo thanks to Amanda Hedgepeth Photography

Photo thanks to Amanda Hedgepeth Photography

Wendy Zook Photography | Down Syndrome Awareness, Down Syndrome family, sibling with Down Syndrome, siblings, brother and sister, parent of child with Down Syndrome, DS awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | Down Syndrome Awareness, Down Syndrome family, sibling with Down Syndrome, siblings, brother and sister, parent of child with Down Syndrome, DS awareness

There is a lot of cheering in our house. A huge amount of hugs. And all the laughter you can imagine. And our house is always filled with kids -- friends of both kids. Our home and our hearts are more full than I ever could have dreamed.

I really am the luckiest mom in the world. But my kids? They’re even luckier. Because they have each other.

Wendy Zook Photography | Down Syndrome Awareness, Down Syndrome family, sibling with Down Syndrome, siblings, brother and sister, parent of child with Down Syndrome, DS awareness