Thursday, August 23, 2012


I think I left the hospital with my fists flying.  I had this idea that the whole world would be "against" Sam and his "different" abilities and that I would spend my entire life defending the value of his life.  It didn't help that as we walked down the hallway of the hospital on our way out that day, a lady commented on the adorable quilt that was draped over Sam.  Um, what about the adorable baby underneath?  I simply said "thank you" and went on my way, but it stuck with me.  It bothered me and I couldn't help but think did she see Sam, and think he wasn't adorable?  Did she see there was something "wrong" with my baby and the only thing she could think of was to make a remark about the quilt and go on her way?  I'm hoping she's an avid quilter who honestly only saw the quilt and never even saw the baby, but I highly doubt it.

I remember feeling so anxious when I had Sam out in public the first few times.  Now I sit back and laugh at myself because I feel nothing but pride for my Mr. Wonderful.  It was not shame that I felt, it was fear.  Fear of him not being accepted, fear of him not being loved, and fear of what people thought.

In the months that have passed, I've discovered I didn't need to leave the hospital with my shield up.  More people than not are overwhelmingly loving towards Sam, and eager to accept everything that he brings to the table.  However, I'm sad to say we get "looks" every now and then.  Sometimes, I (strangely) wish that Sam had more physical features of Down syndrome so that people didn't have to stare so long to figure out what is "wrong" with him.

I've gotten looks that say "I'm sorry", I've gotten looks that say "how precious" (these people know, and I would venture to guess they have someone like Sam in their lives) and I've gotten looks that plant a big question mark on people's faces.  Why is it that we stare?  Why is it that we do a double take when someone who seems different than us walks by?  I know I've done it myself, but I don't quite understand it.  And now, I'm the mother of one little boy who people stop and stare at.  I'm the mother of one little boy who makes men and women alike do a double take, as if they've see a unicorn prancing by.

I was talking to my sister in law, Kelly, about this.  She sure has some wonderful advice sometimes.  The other day, I was ranting on about the people who look and stare, and I asked "what do I do?  What can I say to them?"  She says...."Why don't you say: 'hi, this is Sam.  Sam has Down syndrome.  The next time you see someone like Sam, why don't you stop and say hi and do your best to make them feel special."  Nicely put.

I, on the other hand, have considered starting a t-shirt business, and my top sellers would say:

"It's just an extra chromosome, don't worry,...I don't have the cooties"
"I love my son (brother, grandson, nephew, godchild) with Down syndrome."
"Am I rocking this extra chromosome, or what?"
"Down syndrome doesn't discriminate, why do you?"
"My baby has more chromosomes than your baby!"
"There's really nothing to feel 'down' about."

9 out of 10 people just smile at us.  Thank you.  For those of you on this team, the ones who accept and love Sam, and commit to spreading the word that he doesn't have cooties, we love you.  It will be my job, one from which I'll never retire, to spread the word that we are all more alike than we are different.  And if you don't hear me the first time, I'll gladly make you a t-shirt.