As a parent to a child with a brain injury each day presents itself with blessings and challenges. We have learned that in an instant it can all change and never be the same. Some days are more successful than others. Yet each day I make sure that I tell Isabella these five things:
- You did a great job. I always tell Isabella she did a great job regardless of how much aggression and violence there is in the day. I tell her every night as she gets tucked into bed. Isabella has no control over her emotions, mood and behavior. She has severe memory deficits. Isabella tries so hard every day and for that I am forever grateful. To me trying is what counts and she tries so hard. Our survivors all have shining moments throughout the day no matter how small they maybe. They need to know that we recognize the hard work that they are putting in.
- You are brave. I tell Isabella this every day because to her the world is scary. She has debilitating anxiety, hallucinations and sensory overload. Isabella struggles with things that we all take for granted. No matter how scared she is or how terrifying the world seem to her, she tries. That is bravery. Our survivors are incredibly brave to endure all that they do every single day. They need to know that we see them as brave even if they don’t see it themselves.
- I am proud of you. I tell Isabella this every day because she continues to inspire me. She woke up out of a coma in the state of a newborn. Isabella fights so hard to regain her life. Every task that she does is amazing. My daughter wasn’t supposed to make it through the night and yet she did. Isabella is walking, talking, learning to read and so creative. Our survivors are amazingly resilient and should hear that others see it too.
- You are smart. I tell Isabella this many times throughout the day because she thinks if she can’t remember something or she isn’t safe that makes her dumb. Isabella is smarter than she realizes and wise beyond her years in some areas. Our survivors need to know that just because something takes them a while to understand or “get” it doesn’t make them dumb. They are incredibly smart and need to hear that.
- I love you. I tell Isabella this every chance I get. When she was dying I wondered if I told her enough. I knew I did, however, when you have watched your child dying it makes you realize just how precious life is. Our survivors need to know that we love them no matter what. They may not be who they were but we love them just as much if not more.
As a parent we want so badly to help our children regain their lives. There are so many parts of recovery that we can’t control. What we can control is what we say to them. We can be instrumental in helping build their self esteem.
“Promise me you’ll always remember… You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and loved more than you know.” Christopher Robin
Guest Blogger, Kristin Olliney-Apruzzese, is the mother of 8-year-old Isabella, who suffered sudden acute encephalitis when she was just 4. Kristin’s bi-monthly blog, Mommy of a Miracle, talks about the trials and joys of raising a brain injury survivor.
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