I know that I have mentioned over and over how I wish I'd known when Jack was born what I know now, but I find myself being reminded of this daily.
Today we celebrated our friends' little girl Ella's first birthday at a wonderful party (way to go, Laine ... awesome time!). It was a day full of friends, fun and laughter. A friend of ours who we haven't seen much of since Jack's birth came up to Robert, Jack, and I and asked us if he could talk to us for a minute. We said sure, of course, and he went on to tell us about how when he first heard about Jack's birth and diagnosis, he called upon an old friend of his who had four boys, two typical children, one with Down Syndrome and one with Autism. He called upon this friend to ask him advice in terms of what to say or do for us because of Jack's diagnosis. His friend told him that out of all four of his children, if he had to choose only one to have he would choose his son with Down Syndrome. I thought this was an amazing thing to say, and I of course started tearing up upon hearing this. Our friend quickly said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you sad." I quickly corrected him, explaining that I was not tearful because I was sad, but that I understood what his friend meant when he said this about his special son and about how happy I was to finally and truly be "there."
I loved reading the book Gifts so much that I grabbed the book Gifts 2 as quickly as I could, and I think this story from the most recent Gifts (by Amy Armstrong about her daughter Larkin) reiterates the feelings we go through as moms of children with special needs and the journey (tough but very necessary) we must walk in finding true acceptance. It defines how, no matter how hard it is to find our way sometimes, we do eventually get there ... to this wonderfully new and better balanced life.
"I found myself standing in new shoes that didn't fit, and suffered terrible growing pains from trying to walk in them. My raw emotions became blisters that wouldn't heal.
I continued to wear the shoes, though, because I didn't have a choice. Eventually my blisters gently healed into tender spots. And over time, I found the shoes balanced me and kept me grounded. One morning, Larkin was in my arms drinking her bottle, and I relaxed into the moment and locked eyes with her. The pure love in her eyes flooded over me. I realized I needed to have that very same look in my eye. When I look at people, I need to have the same open, loving, nonjudgmental gaze. And I began to cry with that knowledge."
I loved the moment she describes here with her Larkin because it reminds me so much of the first time I had that pivotal moment with my Jack. These children have so much to teach us about acceptance and love for others, and I absolutely can't wait for our journey ahead.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend everyone!