I have to ask.
Do you have someone with Down syndrome in your life? I ask because, well, it's really hard to understand the impact of it unless you do.
Then again, maybe that's why you readthis blog! So you can start to understand.
Or maybe you read it for the camaraderie because you do have an extraordinary person in your life. Lucky you!
Let me tell you about a couple t-shirts I bought for full-price online. This is important because, for one, I don't really like to wear t-shirts. And for two, I don't like to buy things unless they are on sale or second hand.
But when these shirts came into my inbox, the words on them hit me so hard that I ordered them (each at different times) right away.
The first says, "Down syndrome Mom: If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart."
I bawled the moment I saw it. It was, and still is, perfect for my life.
People often see me and tell me that they don't know how I do what I do. They are often amazed at my situation.
I don't really know how people view me and my son. I just hear what they tell me sometimes. Often they say nothing directly to me, and that's just fine.
They can see what they see of us. They can see that "my hands are full" as I leave my groceries on the end of the checkout counter while I tell the cashier, "I'll be right back!" because my son just got mesmerized by the automating sliding doors and decided to run out of the building.
Or they hear me talk about the three different kinds of therapy that he needs to have in order to even have a chance of catching up to the other kids.
But the kicker is the latter part of the t-shirt.
"You should see my heart."
Because it bursts at the seams with love. The grammies and grampies know this. The aunties and uncles know this. The community members know this.
Brady P. makes your heart burst with love.
He walks out of his room in the morning, closes the door behind him and greets me with a huge "Good morning" smile, a hug or a joke. What a way to start the day!
We sit at the picnic table in the yard to eat dinner, and each time he hears a car horn, he shouts, "Hiiiiii!" so loud that it's embarrassing. Even more so when he stands on the bench waving his arm shouting, "Hiiiiiiiiii!" to a car alarm. And he does it more and more because I absolutely crack up. What a ham!
And he gives me sweet kisses on all the parts of my face and says, "I love you, Mommy," and my heart absolutely melts as we embrace in a hug.
He is the sweetest, most loving person I have ever met. His depth of caring and compassion has taught me to deepen my own. It's like he's an angel and a human at the same time.
"You should see my heart."
It is so full.
I would not trade my experiences with him for anything. And I have never wished he was different. He's perfect for me and our family and our community.
The other shirt says, "I am a Down syndrome Mom. What's your super power?" With an S in the Superman emblem.
I know it seems a bit haughty, but it's true.
When your child has Down syndrome, they don't just walk. They don't just talk. They don't just pick up a crayon and draw.
Without support, love and encouragement, they really are not designed to do too much more besides love people and want to eat sweet food.
This may be a bit generalized, but in my experience with many other parents, it's true. I mean, decades ago, people with an extra 21st chromosome were thrown into institutions where they were expected never to amount to anything.
Then people started working with them. Started giving them the love, support, encouragement, therapy, repetition and community that they need to thrive.
People realized that our extra chromosome friends could learn. They just need extra help.
You know, I have never really thought about it in that way before, but in that regard, I am helping a small body of a person become what society can deem a worthy human being.
That sounds absolutely horrible.
But that's the way people used to think!
And Brady P. did not get put into an institution where he still can't walk or speak or know all the colors or the alphabet or how to count to 10 in 5 different languages or be able to name a dinosaur for each letter of the alphabet.
No. He did not go to an institution
He came to be with me. And our family.
And he can do all those thingsI mentioned.
He is amazing.
So that, I suppose, is why the parent of a person with Down syndrome can wear a superhero shirt.
Because it's true.
Thanks for listening.
Have a wonderful day!