It happened at work again the other day; a coworker saw a picture of Carly and asked how old Carly is. I said “22 months” and the coworker said “Wow, she is pretty small I thought she was only 8 months.” I replied with “Yep, she is small, I think she gets that from her moms side of the family, plus she has Down Syndrome.”
As soon as I said “Down Syndrome” I knew what was coming next and just had to wait out the 5 seconds of “uncomfortable” silence and then….
“Oh, I am so sorry”
My reply has always been, “No worries, My wife and I, along with her brother and sister feel very lucky to be part of her family.”
The comments that usually follow are along the lines of wow, you are so strong to be able to say that, I don’t know how you do it, and sometimes I can’t believe how open you are about it.
Since day one, I have never felt the need to hide the fact that Carly has Down Syndrome, perhaps it was because her touch and go birth, or the fact that she is alive and healthy, or because I was raised in a home that did not put labels or limits on people. To me, Carly having Down Syndrome is the same as Brady having green eyes, or Emma having straight hair. It is just part of who they are.
So how do I do it? There is no magic secret or some special sort of incredible resolve I have, rather I have an amazing wife who is my partner every step of the way.
We are raising our children much the same way we were raised, no limits or labels on people. We are volunteering at the Special Olympics on Saturday to not only support the event but to also let Emma and Brady see, with their own eyes, that anybody can do amazing feats.
As far as being “strong”, I think that comes with being a parent. I don’t know of a parent who is not strong. You do whatever you can for your kids, love them with out condition, and raise them to live, laugh, and love. I have a friend who has a son with Autism and if you asked my friend if she thought she was stronger then other parents, she would probably give you a similar reply
I brag about all my kids.
I have a family that believes in no labels or limits.
I am not stronger then anybody else.
Simply, and thankfully, I am a parent.