On the day Ingrid was born we began a life long journey of education. Before this we knew nothing of down syndrome or anyone who was blessed with it. To say we were thrown into a new life would be an understatement.
From the beginning we made a very conscious effort to treat her the same as our other kids, yet as her future unfolds we find ourselves making exceptions. The necessity of such provisions seems to change quite frequently.
Each day is a new story, some similar to yesterday’s, while others are painfully different and new. No one can tell you that everything will be okay and to just live life when the smallest of occurrences leaves you fearing the worst.
As we educate ourselves on topics as they come up, we tend to learn of things we didn’t expect, and mostly fear. I dont believe that we should ever take on someone else’s pain as our own, but sometimes it’s hard to set aside.
Throughout the years since Ingrid’s arrival, we have learned of a wide range of potential health concerns, psychiatric concerns, learning difficulties, and so much more. It’s become a life that we didn’t expect, yet have fallen in love with.
Yes, Ingrid has challenges with academic development, yet she is farther ahead in other areas. Yes, Ingrid is full of feistiness like I’ve never seen before, and can also be the most timid child in the room. As someone who will not defend herself in a social setting, she doesn’t hesitate to call us out (at home) or tackle her older brother.
But here’s what makes our life different.. what most people assume are fun and easy for any family aren’t for us. When some people want to interject their opinions of how we should “handle” our life with a special needs child, they are usually the same people who have never given her a second thought.
Our family is wonderfully different. And, frankly, we love it this way. I can promise one thing.. Ingrid’s diagnosis doesn’t define her, and it never will, yet as her mom, its always on my mind.
Let me elaborate. My kids will always be my life. When there’s even the slightest chance that something tragic could slip into our lives, I fall concerned. When the smallest cold creeps into our home, I know it’s going to turn into something long and rough for Ingrid.
I’m not saying any of this for pity. Actually, my intent is the opposite. It’s about creating awareness. To be aware of families that aren’t like yours. And when assumptions are made, it adds a complexity that isn’t necessary. Our lives aren’t harder, they’re just different. Our concerns as parents are similar, yet we worry about different things.
We know it can be awkward at times when trying to navigate a family dynamic, but rest assured, it’s something we’ve already considered.. and we’re doing what’s best for our family. Keeping things normal is what we strive for.
As the holidays are fast approaching, I hope that more compassion becomes a way of life, and not just in the spirit of Christmas. I hope that love can be spread as quickly and easily as hatred. I hope that understanding is taught to our children, rather than stereotyping.
Patience, kindness and love.. let’s spread these gorgeous attributes like wildfire!