It’s not very often that we get to look through the lense of another person. Infact it’s rare, if at all… I feel extremely blessed to have been given the opportunity to look through the eyes of another woman. Not any woman, however, but the lense of a single mom raising a child with special needs. You see, a single mom in our community gave birth to a baby girl about 8 months ago with Down syndrome. In preparing for the birth of her baby, this mom was like any of the rest of us… She was planning their lives together, nesting, and dreaming about her daughter’s future. She was faced with the challenge of doing this alone, but was running at it full force. At the birth of her daughter she was told that the baby had some complications. Her lungs were not functioning correctly and the baby was quickly whisked away to another hospital for treatment. She was also told, for the first time, that her little girl was born with Down syndrome. This is where we came into the picture. We were sent an email to pray for this Momma and her sweet angel. We started and have not stopped. I felt a strong bond to this mom and her daughter and have really been involved in their lives ever since. Ben and I volunteer to take the baby when ever her mom needs. We have her at least 6 times a week… She is part of our family in every possible way. We love her as if she were our own. She has a biological big brother and a Mom that worship the ground she walks on, plus our family of 5 that think she’s the cat’s meow- she is so LOVED!
Here is the thing, this sweet baby has Down syndrome. A syndrome that is recognizable to most people in our society. As her primary care giver much of the time I’ve learned many aspects of what it’s like to have a child with special needs. She receives services on almost a daily basis. Whether it’s OT, PT, Speech or something else, our home is open to therapists every day. I’ve learned about her body and how it operates a little differently than yours and mine. I’ve learned how to support her and teach her based on who she is. I love every aspect of this child so to me these things are now part of our daily lives, they are normal.
I’ve also seen what it’s like to be a Mom of a special needs child in public. I’ve experienced looks of sympathy, embarrassment, shock, and confusion. I’ve answered lots of questions and explained her story to complete strangers. As a teacher I’ve always tried to listen and understand what all my parents want and desire for their children. I’ve always tried to learn as much as I can about all my students especially those with special needs, but this is different…. I have a new hope, a hope that the world would accept her differences, a hope that we would all see that we are more alike than different, a hope that you all get to experience this beautiful child! Looking through the eyes of a Down syndrome parent has made me a better person. It has made my children better children, it has made my family a better family, it has blessed us in a way I can’t even explain.
Let me tell you about her… She is the easiest baby I’ve met… She has a smile that will take your breath away! Her SOUL is full of joy! She lights up when you talk to her! She cries when she’s hungry, wet or bored- but just a little. She loves to be held and talked to… She has the biggest blue eyes that have a star like sparkle! Purple is her color! She loves Ben and his beard :)! She’s curious and brilliant and beautiful! She’s one amazing girl that holds a special place in my heart!
I know that we are all not able to take outside children into our homes, especially those with special needs. I think this connection was divine and that made the details just work out. BUT I do think that we can control our thoughts and actions whether in public or private. I think we can try our best to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. AND… if you by chance have the opportunity to look through the eyes of another, snatch it up! It will change your life forever, I PROMISE… XOXO