October is Down syndrome awareness month. The timing is a bit unfortunate – it almost seems unfair for anything to share an awareness month with the juggernaut of breast cancer awareness. (Not that we shouldn’t be aware of breast cancer – I just think we should let it be its own month!)
Anyways, many Down syndrome blogs do a “31 for 21” in which they post something about Down syndrome each day for the month of October. Since I’m a once-a-week kind of blogger, I didn’t feel up to that challenge this year. Several mommas have decided to blog about the same thing a few times this month and I’ve decided to participate in that exercise. (If you’re interested in a more info about Down syndrome itself, feel free to send me an email or check out some of the links posted on the right side of the screen.)
Today’s assignment is to write about something I love about Down syndrome. A well-timed topic for me, I think.
So what is it I love about Down syndrome? Hands down, it’s the new lens with which I see the world.
In the last year, I’ve been forced to own up to my stereotypes and misconceptions. I’ve stared them down and I’ve grappled with them. I’ve had to be honest with myself in ways that were extremely uncomfortable, sometimes mortifying, but always liberating.
I see humanity. Where once I saw demographics or political affiliations or diagnoses, now I just see people. (Full disclosure: this is still a work in progress! What can I say? I live in a hotbed of political discord and I’m working hard to see the beauty in the other side of the aisle – but hey, I’m trying. A year ago, I probably wouldn’t have tried.) And what I’ve seen is beautiful and breathtaking.
I’ve taken a long, hard look at how I define success and independence. I’ve examined how I feel about parenting, mothering, and what my dreams are for my child. I’m task oriented and driven by success, and always will be, but my measures of success are on a different scale. I’ve cried over my child giving a high five, and I’ve cried over a friend’s little one saying “love you” for the first time. The hopes and dreams are still there (hear that, Rowenna?), but I’m approaching them in much smaller chunks and appreciating all the little steps it’s taking to get there.
While there are days I am overwhelmed, and days I wish things were just a little more typical around here, I am immensely grateful to have learned these things. I am blessed to have this new lens.
And I know, in the deepest part of my heart, I would not have learned these things with this intensity had I not been given a child with Down syndrome.