Why I don’t advocate..

Wow, I have missed this!  Over the past few months I have been busy working on other writing projects, spending time with my family and planning my posts.  Now I’m ready to get back to work.

I have a desire to explain something to everyone.  You already know that our beautiful daughter has been blessed with Down Syndrome, yet what you don’t know is why I won’t advocate for her.  As I say this, please understand that I have many friends who choose to stand for their cause and I am writing this very delicately, as to not discount anyone’s purpose.  I applaud you!  But my focus is different..

Before having a child with Down Syndrome, I had no knowledge of what this diagnosis contained.  My husband and I were not aware of the health concerns, development delays, or any other hurdles that we may encounter in our daughter’s future.  All we knew was that we were embarking on a journey that would enlighten us to an unknown world.  I won’t lie, I was taken aback when her diagnosis was confirmed.  Not that I was afraid of my adorable baby, yet I was worried about how the world would treat her.  When Ingrid was less than a month old, we were given some advice that I’ll never forget.  Our pediatrician at the time said that Ingrid is just a baby and to treat her that way.  We couldn’t expect the world to embrace her and her beauty, unless we showed the world all that she had to offer..  and that didn’t include a diagnosis.  It was about a girl who had enormous potential to conquer the world.  These few little words have stuck with me since the day they were spoken.  My husband and I vowed that we would never treat Ingrid any differently from her siblings.

You see, I feel strongly about this.  Ingrid is now four years old and doing wonderfully in school.  We haven’t been faced with many health concerns, she is extremely healthy.  We have run into some “characteristics” (I say this very lightly) of DS that we understand are common, yet we never let that be an excuse.  She sees her older brother doing his chores and always wants to help, so recently, I gave her her own chores.  At four years old, she helps me fold laundry, unload the dishwasher and she sets the dinner table every evening.  Some of you may not agree that our kids have chores, but I will not apologize.  We are teaching them that you have to work to make life happen.  You can’t expect to be handed anything!  I never want Ingrid to grow up with the understanding that because of a diagnosis on paper, she can’t or shouldn’t be treated like any other person.  She is a person and she will be a valuable asset to the world around her.  Her understanding may be delayed, yet that doesn’t have to stop her from accomplishing absolutely everything she can dream of.

This is why I don’t advocate.  Trust me when I say that I understand the importance of anyone who chooses to do so.  But my focus in life is for my children to see that hard work paves the way for life.  My children know that very few things are free, except love, friendship and respect, but even those require work.  All of them are loved and cherished for their individuality.

When Ingrid was about one year old, Brixton couldn’t grasp why we frequently went to therapy and doctor appointments.  Keep in mind, at the time he wasn’t even three years old.  After some thought, I explained to him that Ingrid is different from he or I.  That she was born slightly different and would need some help with the things that we take for granted.  I told him that as they get older, its possible that other kids, and sadly some adults, would say that she was “weird”, but that was okay.  Not everyone has the opportunity to know someone like his sister, that we are lucky!  He may hear people say that she’s special, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t.  All he needed to know was that he had a cute little sister and we would take care of her, no matter what.  I told him that when, or if, he hears someone say mean things to her because she is different, that he could simply respond by saying that we’re all weird and that’s okay.  Being different is exactly how we’re meant to be.  There are no two people alike!

I hope I wrote this as delicately as possible.  I applaud everyone who feels driven to speak up for those who can’t.  And I thank you for your hard work that will likely influence my children’s lives!  We may do things differently in our family, yet your vigilance will never be overseen.

Ingrid has a diagnosis on paper.  There have been times when I felt the need to explain to passersby that she isn’t “typical”.  I have seen my wrongdoing in that and no longer feel that need.  She is a girl.  A beautiful part of the world that will journey farther than anyone could expect.