Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

How is it possible to look at you and immediately be taken back to those first breaths you took? Or, to think it’s only been a few weeks since you took your first tentative steps? It’s been 8 wonderful years, but I remember each one still so clearly.

When Robert was born, I was given a birth diagnosis of Down syndrome. The hospital staff looked at me with pity. I still remember feeling confused by their reactions. I had volunteered in high school working with youth with disabilities. I actually did some 1:1 volunteer work with a girl with Down syndrome (I wonder how she is? She’d be about 30 years old now..). I had written a paper for grade 10 science on down syndrome, and again another in a university course I took. While I didn’t know much, I do remember thinking it was going to be OK.

I told our social worker that raising a child with down syndrome was going to be like raising a child who is left-handed in a right-handed world. The world isn’t designed for him, but we will adapt, change and do everything necessary to support him.

Never did I imagine when he was born that he’d be learning to play the violin. Or playing math games just for fun. I didn’t think he’d take a shining about learning our solar system or facts on dinosaurs.

I had hoped he’d be included and have friends, but I didn’t realize that he’d have such a solid group of friends who look out for him already.

Through raising Robert, we’ve discovered a community we didn’t know existed. One of parents and allies who understand that it’s the world that needs to be changed, not our children.

I think about how lucky we are to enjoy each stage a little longer, a little deeper and how we appreciate each milestone achieved in a different way. We certainly don’t take for granted that we are part of the lucky few.

So here we are. With an 8-year-old world changer, who is as funny and sweet as he is stubborn and sassy.

Bonne fête, Robert. Je t’aime.

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