Friday, February 22, 2008

My Son

By Rebecca Talley




My baby turned two-years-old a few days ago. It's hard for me to believe that two years have passed since his birth. He thoroughly enjoyed his birthday cupcake, smearing it all over his face, arms, and chest (I was smart enough to remove his shirt before giving him his cupcake--at least I've learned something from raising 10 kids).

The next day, he kept me going from one end of the day to the other. He threw a pencil in the toilet and I had to fetch it. Thankfully, it wasn't a used toilet :). Next, he found one of the potted plants and turned it upside down. Since I had just watered the plant, a nice pool was created in the hallway and he promptly took a little swim in all the muddy water. He then went on to find some packing paper and rip it to shreds all over the floor, turn the trash can upside down, and pull all the pots out of the cupboard. He loves to sit in front of the oven and watch himself make faces and dance. He also likes to lick the oven door and leave little "love smears." To finish off the day, he tossed his spaghetti noodles on the floor. I didn't want them to dry and "glue" themselves to the floor so I began picking them up. As soon as I was within reach, he grabbed my hair and left a deposit of spaghetti sauce on the top of my head (okay, so maybe I haven't learned as much as I should've with 10 kids).

Typical two-year old stuff. While I don't love all the messes, I'm so grateful for them. I'm thankful each and every day that my son can make the messes and act like a two-year-old because I wasn't sure he ever would.

Shortly after his birth, he was diagnosed with Trisomy 21, commonly called Down syndrome. I was shocked because none of the prenatal ultrasounds indicated any abnormalities. My only familiarity with Down syndrome was that I'd seen people with it. With the diagnosis, I feared my son would be a blob in the corner and life would pass him by. I thought he'd never enjoy a "normal" life. I was alarmed at the pages and pages of medical conditions associated with Down syndrome that I found on the Internet. I was afraid that I'd spend most of my time in the hospital and wondered how I could possibly raise my other children. I not only had a lot of misinformation about Down syndrome, I also had many unfounded fears.

If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn't have worried for a moment. My son is anything but a blob. He interacts with all of the other kids, he plays games, he shows off, he has likes and dislikes, he loves music, he plays with toys, and none of us could imagine life without him.

Prejudice is usually born of fear and ignorance. We don't understand someone or something and we let our lack of knowledge dictate our attitudes. Some feel pity for me because I have a child with a lifelong genetic condition. Others just feel grateful that they don't have to have a child like mine. Attitudes born of ignorance. The truth is it's an honor and a privilege that Heavenly Father chose me out of all the other women in the world to be my son's mother. He is a gift and though he may take a little longer to do what others take for granted, he deserves as much respect and love as any other child. He should never be judged by his extra chromosome. He has talents and strengths like everyone else. No one knows what he may accomplish in this life and he deserves the opportunity to do and be whatever it is that he desires.

Some seem to be content to place a child with Down syndrome into a "box" and only expect certain things from that child. "He'll never do this." "She'll never be able to participate in that." I don't believe any child should have limitations set on him or her. What a disservice we do when we limit someone for any reason. A principal once told me in a PTA meeting that the children in our school would never read very well because the socioeconomic level was low and poor people don't read well. Huh? Talk about limiting a group of children. (For the record, many children at this same school read well above grade level, some even read 5 years or more above grade level).

I have no idea what the future holds. I don't know what struggles my son may experience or what prejudice he'll face simply because of his chromosome count. I only know that Heavenly Father has blessed me beyond measure with a child that will surely teach me more than I will ever teach him and I will continue to hope that people will see my son the same way that I do.

10 comments:

  1. Oh, this is so touching and memorable, Rebecca. I'm so glad you're here and that you've shared this post. I remember working as a Service Coordinator for parents whose children had special needs. How I would have loved to given them your words here. What a blessing you are to so many. And how amazing your little guy is already two! I remember when he was born. He's blessed to have you as a Mommy!

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  2. Awesome, Rebecca. I should put you in touch with my niece. She's doing some amazing things for awareness and education about this condition.

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  3. I'd love to get in touch with your niece, Marsha. I think the more people are aware of how alike, rather than different, people with Down syndrome are, the better for everyone.

    And thank you both for your comments.

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  4. Oh, Rebecca! Everybody in the world should read this post! Covenant is doing a compilation of essays like this. May I please, please put you in touch with Kirk for submission? (If it wouldn't violate your other contracts, of course.) LOVE IT! What a doll -- and what an extraordinary mother he's blessed with!

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  5. I love the picture you posted of your beautiful son! Too cute! My photo album has lots of photos with a similar theme...first of my children and now my grandchildren. I laugh now when I see them experiencing life to the fullest. As a young mom, I would fuss about he mess. I feel bad about that.

    I have a new friend who has a 13 year old daughter with Trisomy 21. I would like to share your message with her. She is struggling with wondering if she is providing enough opportunities for her daughter to experience and grow as she is getting more mature.

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  6. Share away. I love to share the message of hope I have about my son.

    Thank you everyone for your kind and encouraging words!

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  7. What a wonderful attitude. As much as I have sympathy for children with this challenge and their parents - I knew I wouldn't be able to handle it if was given to me. I was thankful everyday that my children were growing up that they didn't have this kind of challenge.
    Of course they have been given other challenges. I woulnd't have chosen those challenges for them - but a wise Heavenly Father knows just what we as parents and they as individuals can handle and doesn't give us more than what we can cope with - along with plenty of guidance, love and support from above.
    Margaret Turley RN

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  8. What a beautiful, inspiring post, Rebecca. And what a choice and remarkable mother you are to have the care of such a choice and remarkable spirit. The Lord knows what he is doing, and his love and guidance will be with you.

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  9. And, I fixed the typos--never post a blog while you're doing twenty other things! I'm glad you could read it with my typos. Sheesh--how embarrassing!

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