Thursday, July 19, 2012

Humbling Moments

Have you heard that song "In my Daughter's Eyes?"  It starts out something like this...

In my daughter's eyes, I am a hero.
I am strong and wise,
And I know no fear.
But the truth is plain to see:
She was sent to rescue me,
I see who I wanna be, in my daughter's eyes.

In my daughter's eyes, everyone is equal,
Darkness turns to light,
And the world is at peace.
This miracle God gave to me,
Gives me strength when I am weak.
I find reason to believe, in my daughter's eyes.

When this song came out, it was about the time my oldest daughter Ella was born.  I can remember singing it in my car at the top of my lungs, and breaking down crying when I listened to it, because I had a daughter and I hoped and prayed that I could be a hero in her eyes.  I hoped that she believed I was strong and wise, and I really did find reason to believe when I looked in her eyes.

For all of my children, I strive to be a hero, I strive to be strong and wise.  I wish I knew no fear for their sake.  Recently, Ella has turned the tables on me, and it's her who has become my hero, she has become exactly the person I wish I could be.

We all looked forward to the arrival of our baby boy, our brother, our son.  After the diagnosis that rocked my world, Ella kept saying things like "I'm so glad Sam has Down syndrome" and "I think it's ok that Sam has Down syndrome, I think it's kind of cool."  Without being too outwardly negative, I tried to correct her way of thinking.  I kept saying, "no, this isn't a good thing."  She would ask "mom are you happy that Sam has Downs?" and I would quickly reply, "no, I'm not."  

This past weekend, I was trying to get the billion pictures we've taken of Sam organized so that I could start working on his scrapbook.  Ella was glancing through some pictures, and again she said "I'm really glad that Sam has Down syndrome, are you mom?"  Tears sprung to my eyes and I said again "no, I'm not glad.  I know it's hard for you to understand, but he's going to have a hard time his whole life because of this.  Do I love him? Yes.  Am I glad he's in our family?  Absolutely.  But no, I'm not happy that he has Down syndrome."

I think my answer was more than she expected.  She put her hand on my shoulder and said "it's ok mom."  Then Grace came along, and found a picture she was in and boldly stated "do you like my smile in this one?  My lips are gorgeous." Nobody provides me with comic relief better my baby girl!

The moment passed and I hoped that Ella's belief that Down syndrome is "good" would finally be put to rest.

Later that afternoon, I took the birthday girl, Marie, and several friends to the pool in town for a swim.  It was hotter than the dickens out and we were all ready to cool off from the hot summer sun.  The girls all got settled into their suits, slathered up with sunscreen and were in the water before I could say "boo."

Rewind to the beginning of June...
I took the girls to the library one afternoon, and there was young woman there who kept glancing our way and smiling.  I had Sam with us too, he was sleepily slurping down his afternoon bottle.  Finally, the woman approached me and asked how old Sam was, and introduced me to three of her kids.  I asked what her kids' names were, and she proceeded to recite all SEVEN names!  I would have never guessed her to be the mother of seven.  And when she walked away, I felt resentful.  I remember thinking to myself, "you and your seven healthy kids, you probably take for granted that they're all healthy and "normal."

Back to the pool....
As the girls were in the water splashing around, a young lady caught my eye.  She had a "look" about her.  Was it her eyes?  Yes, they were sort of almond shaped and slanted upward.  She was short, but so am I.  The back of her head was definitely flatter than I would expect.  Her petite hands and short fingers, yes I think she has Down syndrome.  And what's this?  It's the woman from the library helping her swim.  My jaw about dropped.  Well, maybe she's not her mother, maybe she's a relative helping out or maybe she's a hired helper.  But then I hear her say to her younger daughter, "come and swim with your sister."  This was a humbling moment in my life.

My mind was racing - would it be inappropriate to assume her daughter has Downs and talk with her about it?  Would it be out of line to ask her story?  Would it be ok for me to befriend her after I so wrongly felt resentment towards her last month at the library?

I'm not real good at holding back, and I did approach her.  She was rinsing her youngest off in the shower and I walked past, backed up a step or two and said "I don't want to be too forward, but..." and she interrupted me and said "yes she has Down syndrome."  I replied, "Ok, my son Sam has Down syndrome too."  She said simply "I know.  That's why I talked to you at the library that day."

Wow.  This woman, who I wrongly assumed to take for granted her beautiful children, is no different than I am.  Her and I share something in common that we will always and forever share.  A story.  A story of fear, and a story of unconditional love.

My Ella is right, in a way.  Perhaps it is good that Sam has Down syndrome, because he's doing good things in my life without even trying.  He's opening my eyes to a world filled with beauty and he's opening my heart to see everyone equally.  He's showing me that it's not my place to judge, and he's assuring me every day that the people who choose to judge him or our family are not people we need on this team.

No comments:

Post a Comment