Our children who come out made by designer hands and rockin’ designer genes take us on a tour of the world they are in. Their muscles are not as strong as other babies, they often have heart problems, they can have difficulties as a result of smaller nasal passages and ear canals, floppier tracheas, gut and bowel issues, truthfully the list can go on and on depending on the child.
It can take significantly longer for our children to hold up their heads, babble and coo, crawl, walk, talk, read, write, and the list again can go on and on.
When our little ones start to progress and we see them mastering skills that have taken them significantly longer than typical children, we rejoice.
When our little ones hit their milestones at, or even ahead of, other typical peers, we want to shout from the mountain tops…see, my little one can do this!
Moms inherently compare their children, it’s natural.
I have 6 children and I have done, and still do this. I have one child who began taking steps on her first birthday and another who didn’t walk until she was 15 months old. I have one child who began speaking words that everyone could clearly understand by 10 months, and another who didn’t really talk until he was almost 2 but when he did, the words tumbled out like marbles from a jar forming the most perfect and complete patterns and designs our human language contains. I have a child who is so intense and hyper that he makes Rhesus monkeys look dull and another that is so laid back that nothing fazes him or even causes him alarm.
My point is, they are all designed differently.
My newest trek into parenthood has taught me that everything I thought I knew was kind of a joke. Just as soon as you feel as though you have “arrived” and have “mastered it all” God has a sense of humor and he often will throw a puzzle piece into your jigsaw pile that doesn’t seem to fit as smoothly as the rest.
My new little one with Down Syndrome is showing me just that. He is slower to master and accomplish things, as expected, and when he does, I feel that mama pride swell and I want to shout for all to hear…SEE, LOOK, HE’S ROCKIN IT!
But, as I am so proud, there is another mama watching whose child is lagging even further behind. That mama’s precious angel may have had extensive hospital stays requiring therapies to be delayed. That mama may have struggled with the diagnosis and bonding for longer than I did. That mama may have found out that there are also other diagnosis going on besides Down Syndrome.
My “I’M SO PROUD” moment may be yet another slap in the face to that mama.
She may feel like she isn’t doing enough, like she can’t do this right. She may be a new mom, she may not have support, and she may not be ready.
Here is what I want to say. I am proud of my little one, but just as I proclaim his awesome mastery of one skill, he is likely not developing in another, and guess what? It’s okay. I’m proud of your little one too.
What I am learning most from this tour is that my guide is in charge, not me.
Did you hear that? It is almost hard for me to say because I am a very take-charge kind of gal.
He is in charge. He will show me when he is ready to master skills, I am still coming to terms with how I will adjust if there are certain skills he is incapable of mastering, I will go to God and pray about those, likely shed a few more tears, but he and God are the ones in charge, I am along for the ride. Just like on a tour, I don’t get to tell the tour guide where to take me, what we are going to see, how it was made, that is his job.
While on this journey I want to continue to celebrate and have those, IM SO PROUD, moments, but I want to also encourage others, especially since I have chosen to share Cedar with the world to help spread awareness.
I want other mamas to know that if your little one isn’t doing the same thing as mine is, yours is probably doing something even more amazing, like overcoming a heart surgery, learning to eat by mouth, not by tube, overcoming sickness and illness to just keep living.
I don’t ever want my I’M SO PROUD moment to be a stumbling block to another mama. If you hear or see me shout my pride, share yours too, I will rejoice with you.
I am not about the business of comparisons on this Down Syndrome journey because I now realize that our children, designer genes that they have, are all so very unique and special. I do not feel any more pride by watching what my child can do that someone else’s cannot. This type of pride is harmful to all of us.
Having pride about our loved one’s accomplishments despite having Down Syndrome is okay, bragging is not.
Let’s embrace our tour guides, share their journeys, rejoice in one and other’s accomplishments and also be sensitive to what other moms may be dealing with. Pepper our moments of pride with sensitivity to others so we don’t create division that doesn’t need to be there.
In other words, I’M SO PROUD should be not only for our own children, but for all the rest too. Praise liberally when you see another parent struggling, compliment often, and encourage others, don’t keep that pride selfishly for your own, allow others to feel it too by celebrating their pride with them.