Life with Down Syndrome

I was walking through Target once, many years ago, pushing my cart with my two little boys when I saw her.  She was a mother with a little boy about Alex’s age.  She was pushing her cart through just like I was and I felt sorry for her.  While I sat there with my two very healthy little boys, her son had Down Syndrome.  This wasn’t the first time that I saw and felt sorry for a mother who had a child with Down Syndrome and it wasn’t going to be the last.

After PJ was born I did a lot of reading about Down Syndrome and I remember reading from one parent “If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have been so sad at the beginning.”  I read that and didn’t believe him.  I couldn’t quite understand.  Although I have had some experience with children with Down Syndrome, I was pretty ignorant.  I didn’t even know that you don’t call them Down’s kids, but instead a child with Down Syndrome.  For those of you who don’t understand this, it’s because you want to focus on the child, not the syndrome.  You wouldn’t call a child with a broken leg a broken leg kid, right?  You would call him a child with a broken leg.  PJ is a sweet little boy who just happens to have Down Syndrome.  But first and foremost, he is PJ, my baby, part of our family.

Now I am that mom that people will look at in Target and feel sorry for.  But I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me.  There is nothing to feel sorry about.  I feel blessed.  There isn’t much difference between having a baby with Down Syndrome or one without.  You still stare at your baby when they are asleep in your arms.  You still hold them a little bit longer just to smell their sweet little heads.  You still rejoice at the sound of their laugh and your heart soars whenever they smile at you.  You still celebrate every milestone, maybe even more so if your child has Down Syndrome.

This summer I was at our local pool with Kathleen and her girls.  We saw a mother who had a little boy, about three years old, with Down Syndrome.  We both just kept staring at them all afternoon.  I wanted to go up and introduce myself to this mother but I didn’t.  I wish I had though.  I wonder if she saw us staring and I hope that if she did she didn’t feel it was because we felt sorry for her.  We were both just watching because what we saw was a mother playing with her little boy.  He was going under water and blowing bubbles and having fun just like all of the other kids there.  Seeing him actually made me feel better about what the future holds.

So the next time you are walking through Target and you see a mom with a child who has Down Syndrome, don’t feel sorry for her.  And don’t look down or look away.  Look at her and her child and smile.  Let her know that her child is beautiful.  And if you smile at the child don’t be surprised when you get a huge smile back.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kathleen
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 11:55:18

    My name is Kathleen and I am a friend from the IA group! Hope things went smooth for Patrick today. He is a doll! Enjoy him forever!



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