On my 43rd Birthday…

On my 43rd birthday I am still figuring out who the fuck I am. How is that possible? The answer is a short one. I had to undo all the people I thought I was supposed to be first.

I was supposed to be pretty, skinny, and fit  in. I was supposed to go to college, party, stop partying, get a job, get a boyfriend, get married, get a house. I was not supposed to curse, be late to bloom, be outspoken, be forth coming, be selfish, leave my comfort zone, take a risk, be unlady like (whatever the fuck that is) or in essence, be me. I was supposed to be me…. reeled in. Me, but not too much me. Just a little me.

Society told me how to be. I idolized those that were loved by the masses.  Their public life molded me into what I should be. I don’t blame my parents , teachers and role models. They did not tell me how to be…but they also did not stress the importance of being me. No one did. In fact everyone  seemed obliviously satisfied with all the people I was trying on for size.

Somewhere along the way, because of age and wisdom and Judah I started to see the world differently.  Pretty and popularity  were not standards to be judged by ; rather kindness was. Love was. Bravery was. Real shit was. I started to realize that I had been doing it all wrong. All I had ever craved was admiration and people being proud of me. The only time I had ever earned it was when I cut the crap and became real.

…Authentic, exposed, insecure, sensitive, loyal, fun, impatient, kind, selfish, selfless and brave me. When I turned into that girl I became loved. First off,  because I now loved who I was. Secondly,  because I was seen for who I was….not who I was pretending to be. I pretended for so damn long that I’m just getting to know myself again. So, obviously, I don’t have all the answers….But this is what I would tell  the young people playing dress up with different personalities:

1. Karma is real. Be nice.

2. Whether someone likes you or not, actually has very little to do with you ….brush your shoulders off and straighten your fucking crown.

3. You can’t do all the things and do them all well AND be happy. Give yourself a break.

4. You really are your own worst critic. No one else is really paying that much attention anyway.

5. People will come and go in your life. You are allowed to be sad about that. You should explicitly share your feelings with loved ones ….but do not dwell. It’s not good for your soul.

6. Be a rebel. But don’t do it because it’s cool to be rebellious. Do it because you aren’t a piece that fits neatly into society’s puzzle.

7. Be charitable. But don’t do it because it’s cool to have a cause. Do it because it stirs your soul to serve others and see them smile. If it doesn’t stir your soul, check in as to why.

8.  Speak up. Even when you think you’re alone. You aren’t. There isn’t a feeling in this world that no one has never had before.

9. Hold out. Hold out for love, your dreams, and whatever the thing is that has always moved you. Settling is not for dreamers and we all have dreams.

9b. It is never too late. You are the author of your own story. Don’t let tales of others dictate the way yours will play out.

10. Be considerate. Don’t forget your family. Love them fiercely. Let all the little shit go. Regret is a heavy burden to bear.

11. Guilt and worry have no place in your life (this one I’m still working on.) One has to do with your past, one with your future. Neither of which you have control of.

12. Surround yourself with your heroes, your mentors, and people you are proud of. All the others are just helping you hide. Hiding is easy. Being real is hard.

13. Show up. I know you won’t always want to, feel like it, or look your best,… do it anyway. The shame of letting yourself down is not worth the price .

14. God is always there. Sometimes you may think the light has abandoned you or was never really there at all. That is not true. The light is always there. Look for it. It will eclipse your darkness.

15. Love your life. It will be hard and shitty. It will exhaust you and bewilder you. It will surprise you and hurt you. Love it anyway. Complain about circumstance if you must, but love your life. The messy way it is. It is irreplaceable and valuable and there is good in it. Find gratitude in that. It will serve you for further blessings.

16. Listen. Really listen. Not so that you can compare stories. You already know what you know. Listen so that you can learn, be a good friend and so that other people’s story has power through being spoken.

17. You will get hurt, hurt people and do stupid shit. Don’t let it define you. You are so much more than your mistakes.

18. If you want to change, really, really, change…unchain yourself from what you have always done.  Do what you must to rid yourself of the habits that inhibit you. Only then, can the electricity begin to be rewired.

19. Sometimes, it’s a: stay in your pj’s, eat chips,  don’t wash your hair, or call anyone… kind of day. Take a day. But follow it with a: false eyelash, favorite outfit,feed your people,.. kind of day…. You need both.

20. Nature can fix you. It won’t solve your problems or change the world .  However, a good walk, surrounded by God’s very first creations,  will humble and move you. If issues should arise : take to a forest or a lake, not to the bottle.

21. Work hard play hard. It has always been my mantra. It is my dad’s. It will be my sons’. It is everything.

22. Don’t panic about getting it done. You always have. You will not fail. Even if you do, the world will still spin just the way it always has. Take that worry right off the table. Strategize instead. Make better use of all of that mental energy.

23. Life will surprise you and send you curve balls. Don’t be so set in you plans that you are unwilling to adapt. You will miss out on some amazing beauty that way.
24. You won’t be saved from the advice I’ve laid before you. If you were young me, you would have barely been paying attention. …What will ultimately change you is grit and pain and hurt. It will take your anger, sadness and disappointment to change . It will take your fear. You must add in all of those uncomfortable growing pains. THAT is what will make you real. Feel the feelings. Know they have a purpose. Turn them into something worthwhile. Be the sweetest, coldest, and best tasting lemonade… you’ve gotta do something with all those lemons anyway…
25. Happy  birthday to me. The real one. Thank you for finally showing up. This second act is going to be fucking fabulous!!!!

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Post inspired by: “Love Warrior” by Glennon Melton Doyle, “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale, “The Story Of Diana,”…..and another year in the books.

 

Do not fret …Down syndrome is Worthy 

When they offer you that early test, lets all admit it…that’s what it’s for. Down syndrome . Deemed the worst road.. As a special needs mom there are so many roads I have seen now. Not worse, not better ; just different.  But when we are all offered that test… that’s the thing . The one they Detect. The one you can avoid. I can’t even imagine how many people have avoided…, statistics record 90% ? I place zero blame on that. .Had I have known I may have been in the majority. I cannot be sure of what I would’ve done. All I know is what I know now. You adapt. You do it quick. You fight. You advocate. You somehow find strength within yourself and you become strong and then……

You fall in GOD GIVEN love. You cant even help yourself ! Because all of the sudden you have gained a community , a fellowship, a fraternity.  And that is all minuscule compared to the diabolical endearments that greet you every morning with the best hug you’ve ever had.

You do all these things to make your kid great  because you know he is and you know he can be and because everyday you cannot believe how he is proving your old you wrong .

And then there he is. He has his little personality that warms souls and grows yours and you think… why did I ever believe this old belief to be so ?

I can say it because I was there. I uttered incomprehensible phrases of not wanting him to be my own.

And now…. I could not imagine a day without the way he makes my soul bigger, my heart brighter and my life fuller. He is a volcano of joy that erupts with each face he sees. Who does not want that in their life?

So Maybe the fear is because he is a rare gem? but maybe he is him and we just made him rare. He is me. He is you. He is the best part of all of us. He is worthy. And most importantly, he is a blessing. Momma’s honor!

 That Summer High 

Those last days. The ones before you relax , heave a big sigh…then say, “now what (or who) to fix these next six weeks.” It’s a precarious time for a teacher; you yourself are wrapping up and sealing all you know about a little mind into a report card, a folder and a collection of memories. You are passing all these things along  to families, specialists and new teachers and you hope to God you’re doing it justice. 

If you are clinically insane,like myself,  you also are on the good-getting recieving end. You are at countless concerts and ceremonies.  You are bombarded with trinkets of your babies bearing their possible occupation or current favorite food. The hope is that you tuck it all away and compare and contrast for years to come. It’s hectic. I am fruitlessly trying to keep all those balls in a 360 degree formation without disturbing the system. 

There’s gifts for teachers and bow ties for concerts and slide shows for graduates and oh shit, you should probably try to  make yourself look decent too. 

These aren’t on the must-do list. Your stuff won’t be repo’d if you fail or anything….but when you are a hoarder of mementos like myself …it is on the “if I don’t do this I’ll die” list. 

And so it’s not work but it’s nuts and I love the rewards, be them big or small. Here some favorite end of year particulars that have me on a summer high: 

1. Those first day to last day school pictures. This one is never going away for me. The way they grow and come together and fall apart is endearing in all it’s meaning or not. Judah wasn’t even able to steady his Sandlefeet in the fall and somehow Calvin’s baby locks turned into kid hair? There are no missing teeth or facial hair yet but there’s a year’s growth in their eye twinkle and the way they carry themselves. If only to the  trained eye of a mommy or daddy


2. Teacher Gifts. This year Calvin chose a Venus flytrap for his darling of a teacher. As a teacher myself I half chuckled/ half cringed and obliged because it is “soo him” I dreaded the hustle to grab appropriate souvenirs thanking teachers for morphing my children into structured, well mannered, little learners. It seemed nothing would quite do and I’m pretty sure nothing could….But hugging all those first molders in my children’s lives invoked tears of  gratitude . I’m sure they felt all my warm fuzzy neurons buzzing as I squeezed them one last time. 

3. It is not all quite hearts and rainbows at the school where I teach…in the sense that there are not thoughtful gifts or tearful hugs there. It makes me sad sometimes but those brick walls hold other rewards, in the safe haven that you are for little lost ones and a knowing camaraderie with the ones you work with.  So when I rolled up on the last day I had no expectations. In fact, I knew it would be the opposite from the tearful goodbye I had just left. So as I pulled in the parking lot it became everything to see a handful of teachers with camping chairs perched in the parking lot, smiling in the sun and soaking in every last second until we would meet the ones we tried to save for the very last time. We had made it. We survived the trenches and no lives had been lost. Sure some of us has embedded schrapnel but we mostly came through unscathed and we were once again smiling! There were no hot dogs or cold brews at the early morning makeshift tailgate but there was something better. There was triumph. We won the year together, we won the war and we may have even changed some lives in the process. 

4. I’ve worked every single summer since I’ve been 15.  I’ve flipped burgers and scooped ice cream. I’ve poured beers and taught about Egypt . I’ve taken countless orders at the fair while dodging bees and I’ve even sorted car parts in a hot service garage. I’ve nanny’d  waitressed, educated, bartended, counseled, and made sure I completed your order. What I haven’t done is ME! So the thing that sailed my ship right into shore was the opportunity to keep my womb to myself, become the best version of me and do all the things that I’ve wanted to do. The dancing sugarplum dreams that swirled around my newly married brain 6 years ago….Before I was pregnant 4 times , before I dealt with a diagnosis, before I was laid off and frantically searching a job, before a home was just a first-star wish, before family stormed my bed at 6:30am, before all my dreams came true. They’re here. It’s all in front of me now. Now I get to do all the things I wanted to do with this crazy life and now I have the time to do it.  Here’s the thing though….when you are living a dream you’ve dreamt for so long…where to start is a conundrum. I am spinning with home improvements, warm summer days and lingering late nights. My life has just begun damn it. There is not enough summer. My bucket list is created and I’m headed to my first vacation as I write this very sentence. I am in it. This will be my best summer ever. The buzz shows no sign of wearing off anytime soon.

There is something about the end of something that births a new beginning. It’s a chance for a redo or to do it better and adrenaline hits the gas pedal on caffeine. It’s intoxicating.  It is the best high of all, the one I’ve had since I’ve been a kid. It’s that good old fashioned summer high. 

 How I Miss…But Oh How I Love

I miss how you used to grasp my finger instinctively like little newborns do. But now I love the way that you and I hold hands.

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I miss  serving you spoonfuls of mushy bananas off a tiny silver spoon. But now I love how the conversation rolls with you, my very  favorite lunch date.

 

I miss how you used to clutch to me as I’d spin you around the swirls of the pool. But I watch you kick your ungraceful legs  through the too chilly water and it fills my own pool up with pride.

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And I miss the wiggle of your rolly thighs as I would attempt pajama time.. but the way you pick your own too small, out of season pajamas now ? Well that steals my heart every time.

I miss the way you used to sing “rain rain go away” as you stared up at me with your giant baby blues….But now you make up your own songs about our family, your brothers and yes, even sometimes poop. I serve  you side eye and inwardly giggle as I proudly celebrate your creativity.

I miss your scribbles on page after page carelessly flung free. Yet now I am enamored at how you meticulously brighten every corner of a picture making sure not to miss an inch.

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I miss your baby smell, our sacred naps; you needing me.

I love how you collect boxes, fondly tend to your brothers; your independence.

And I love how you still line things up, refuse to throw things away or take off your shoes. I love how you still mimic  your daddy, worry like your mommy and how you sleep with us when you are scared.

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I love how you’ve changed so very much and yet remained so much the same. And while your baby years were so dear to me, I wouldn’t wish them back you know?  For if I did I’d miss even more, the beautiful little boy that you’ve become today.

Happy birthday my darling. You are so very loved.

Hit By The Bus

Almost a year ago to the date my husband and I attended the Gigi’s Playhouse Gala.  We were privileged enough to listen to Gigi’s mom, Nancy Gianni, speak.  It was absolute inspiration, of course. It was also a check in with reality, as we  recognized  how much work there is to still do. Nancy equated her journey with her daughter to a bus ride.  She explained how some experiences are like driving the bus, some are like riding the bus and sadly, some are like being hit by that bus. I wrote about that Gala, (you can read it here.) I spoke of the driving and the riding on the bus, however,  at the time, I had very little to contribute in regards to the inevitable bus collision.  Since that naive night I’ve had some near misses…. There was the time that one doctor asked me if I had the test, or the time when the five year old girl called Judah ugly to her friend  (I can still feel the stinger on that one,) or there is even every time someone is careless with their language.  We’ve come away with some scrapes and some bruises but mostly we have escaped unscathed.

Today , I didn’t even have a chance to look both ways before I was hit head on, by a big, fat, heart-wrenching bus.

We switched dentists because we had to. So,  months ago I set us all up for appointments. Calvin’s and Judah’s were set for today. My husband was supposed to assist in playing zone but as luck would have it he had to work. So, I set off solo with a positive attitude and tales of amazing dentistry to keep Calvin’s anxiety at bay. Not necessarily good or bad…but I never told this office that Judah had Down syndrome. This was thee very first time I had ever done that. Bobby and I talked about it after. We didn’t try and purposely mislead anyone, it’s just not a part of who we are anymore. We used to be  all: ” we have a three year old and a baby with Down syndrome.” “Table for four please. Two adults, one toddler and one baby with Down syndrome” …But these days, we’re passed that. We’ve moved on to “yeah we have 3 boys under 5.” Down syndrome shows up now and then.  It’s  like when you catch a rainbow or see a deer in a field. We acknowledge it and take it all in and then we move on.  I was a bit apprehensive about not mentioning it, but truthfully, Judah is so well loved on in my circle it seemed unwarranted.

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After we were in the  waiting room for over 20 minutes (and if I may say so, my children were absolute angels,) they called us back to a colorful room full of toys and stickers and prizes and bubble gum paste. Gah, I loved that stuff. Calvin really wanted Judah to go first. Cal can be timid and Judah is fearless so to me it seemed to make perfect sense. I agreed with Calvin but we were shut down and instead I had to help the hygienist coax Calvin into the chair. He did great! He was so brave. I know he was scared and that it hurt a little. I was the only one who knew that. Judah did great too. He sat on my lap, not making a peep, watching his big brother like a hawk, making sure he was not being harmed. It was adorable….Then the dentist came in, exchanged some pleasantries and asked me to step in the hall so Calvin could get x-rays.  All went south when she met me in that hall. It started off uncomfortable, it did not feel right and so my awkward   advocating began. I proudly announced,  “this is Judah. This is his first time. He should be good but sometimes he is leery around strangers. He is usually a pretty happy guy though.” And right on cue Judah flashed his most winningest smile, waved and said hi which sounds more like “aaaaaa.” So, of course, I clarified, “he’s saying hi.” *Crickets* My rambling continued, “ I know these little guys with Down syndrome (there I said it) sometimes have trouble with their teeth and his are a bit crooked…..” she stopped me. She said “you know, I’m not a true pediatric dentist so I’m going to have to refer him.” I became panicky.  Didn’t I just come out of a dentist office that resembled Toys-r -us? Then she boldly continued, ” you know, a special need should be sedated for treatment because they move around too much and they can injure themselves.

I felt myself starting to think: OH NO!!! I could hardly believe it. This cannot be, I thought. Nooooo!!!! Did she just call my kid “a special need?”  I think it’s happening to us. I was spinning and hot and frightened.  Truthfully. I actually thought that I could be imagining it all and that I was overreacting.  So I prodded as I pointed  to Calvin “does he need to be sedated too?” The answer was no and my unease was confirmed. My stomach immediately dropped clear to the floor. I replied with my chest puffed, “well Calvin cannot stay here. They will both need to go somewhere else.  Calvin will not stand for going somewhere different than his brother. ” Then… ” did you still want us to look at Judah today?” I replied, “well not if you aren’t comfortable.” And that was it. She was gone. I think that was it. I was so shocked that at this point I was already texting my husband “oh my God I think we just got discriminated against.” The hygienist returned and praised Calvin. She also asked if I wanted her to look at Judah just for today. I told her that I was just trying to get him used to the dentist and I didn’t need any treatment at the moment. I also repeated that she didn’t need to look at him if it made her uncomfortable. She was clearly nervous and trying to defend her dentist.   She said things like,  “I don’t think it is what you think” and then she mentioned something about Judah needing more than nitrous oxide” I again hoped I was wrong and tried to helped her clarify. I asked,  “oh so if Calvin needs treatment he will need more than nitrous too?” Again she said no.  I finally and calmly said as I was somehow driving on that road up high, ” Do you understand that is discriminatory? You don’t even know my baby. He could sit perfectly still like he has the whole time here. You don’t know. Thank you for taking such good care of Calvin, really thank you, but we can’t come here anymore. You understand that this  is discriminatory. “  (I felt like I uttered discriminatory a thousand times but I think I am too blurred to be sure.)  She gave an apprehensive laugh and the dentist walked in asking if we needed a referral.   I kindly responded “no thank you” and hurried out of that building with my three babies as fast as my feet could carry us. I couldn’t believe it. I sat in the parking lot: red, shaking, muttering, texting,  and ultimately , not able to really comprehend that Nancy was right… we just got hit by the bus.

That’s what happened, here’s how I felt:

Physically ill, so, so angry, hurt, confused, brave, proud, sad, and most profoundly; astonished. Maybe I set myself up for this moment? After all I have always shielded us. I always keep us around positivity when it comes to my son’s disability. Maybe I disillusioned myself right into the middle of oncoming traffic. All day long I started to notice his delays more than I ever had before. I tried like hell not to cry but I cried; more than twice, more than three times. I cried because he’s such an awesome kid and he doesn’t deserve to be judged solely by his almond eyes. I cried because I feel defeated; because I thought we were winning. I cried because my sometimes unrealistic determination made me think that maybe our world had moved on from such ignorance.

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Here’s where I’m at now.

I  reached out to my people. Thank the good Lord for giving me so many amazing people. They helped and they started to heal the brokenness inside me. All of Judah’s warriors stepped up and reminded me that there is more good out there. I won’t say more good then bad because this person is not bad. This person is uninformed and sadly mistaken. I will not be revealing where this place is and who it is because it is not my goal to defame or ruin anyone. With the help of one of Judah’s biggest supporters, we will supply this business with information about what Down syndrome is and the correct language to use. The high road is made of dirt and gravel and potholes. It’s a hard road to take. But the destination is so much sweeter. It feels good here. The people with this heart warming disability make you want to take it.  The love of their spirit won’t allow you to go low.

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Maybe we save this person? Maybe we don’t? In the end all we can do is stand together and grow bigger. My child has grown the most incredible garden of kindness I have ever seen.  It is fascinating! The enormity of  what his little life has done has performed the unthinkable… it is even healing  the wounds of being hit by a heart-wrenching bus.

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Speech 

Hi my name is Beth Craver  my husband out there is Bobby Craver and we have a two year old named Judah with Down syndrome. You may have noticed him gracing the Gala invite this year. I also have a debilitating fear of public speaking. I cry, shake and turn multiple shades of red. So if you see any of that going on tonight that’s why. But somehow I’m up here. I still can’t believe it but I am. And that is a testament to exactly how much my little boy has changed me.  After Heather called me to ask me to speak,   it took me twenty minutes to say yes to something I’ve been avoiding for 20 years. Judah has transformed me and Gigi’s has transformed me And That’s what I’m here to talk about tonight…

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For those of you don’t know me …we did not know Judah was going to have Down syndrome,  that is I never had the test.  I was very encouraged to get it because of my advanced maternal age and honestly,  we really debated it… but in the end, because  I had lost my teaching job and had no insurance at the time ,we decided to disobey the doctors wishes and forego it. Here’s the thing though…for nine straight months I worried about Down syndrome. I was consumed by it. I was absolutely convinced my son would have Down syndrome. I was in  a perpetual state of googling and those closest to me knew it was my biggest fear. I have learned since then that this is a thing. Many moms who did not get the test just knew anyway that their child was going to be born with Down syndrome. In fact,  looking back, I think that on some level maybe I never did that test because I didn’t want to have to make the difficult decision the doctors wanted me to make about my child’s value.

So when Judah was born I was lucky enough to have a  very good friend who is a nurse in the delivery room with me. She later recounted I  how had the most terrifying look on my face when I asked her “is he okay?” She answered with the warmest and truest “yes.”  and she was right but when I looked at my son and my husband looked at him, we instantly knew. We actually had some trouble convincing the doctors of what we already knew. The pain I felt is inexplicable. I can’t even describe how deep the ache was. That feeling of being in crisis…. Those of you who have had a baby with Down syndrome may know what I mean and those of you who love someone who had a baby with Down syndrome may understand, but it is tough to describe. I will never ever forget it. Most people say that they feel this way because they are grieving the loss of the baby they thought they were going to have. For me, this wasn’t the case. I expected my baby to have Down syndrome. It is the only baby I ever imagined. First off,I couldn’t actually believe my biggest fear came true. And also, I’m  pretty self conscious, and I have  areal need to be well liked,  so what I feared most is that we wouldn’t be loved. I thought my life as I knew it was over. …that friends would disappear and that we would be made fun of. I thought people would think my baby was ugly and that we would be some sort of pity or joke

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Well, let me tell you, there was a revolving door of love at our house when we came home from the hospital. Friends and family brought meals, and gifts, and wine and tears and hugs and laughs.

We just had a little baby 5 months ago named Augie and when he was born I said to Bobby, I don’t know how we did it back then? How did we entertain all those people while caring for a newborn and absorbing a diagnosis? But back then we needed it. I needed to feel that love then I needed my people.   They dismantled my fears. They saved me…And I started to wonder if Down syndrome was the monster I made it out to be in my mind.

When Judah was just 20 days old, he was rushed in ambulance to the hospital with RSV. There was this medic and wish I got her name. She was so special to me.  I remember her straddling the ambulance gurney looking at Judah the whole way. She kept whispering endearments to him like “you got this buddy” and  “hang in there cutie” I remember being so perplexed. In fact I even said to her “do you know that he has Down syndrome?” She said she did and her eyes never left his. We remained in that hospital for 13 days….through Judah’s 1 month birthday , through Christmas Eve and Christmas… and we finally went home New Years Eve. The whole time the doctors and nurses worked tirelessly to save my baby,…some missed their very own family Christmas celebrations to be with my son. Again I was just so confused. I couldn’t quite understand because everything these doctors and nurses were doing was so out of line with how doctors looked at my child’s worth just 9 months earlier. And Again, I started to second guess what I thought I knew about Down syndrome.

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When we left that hospital we were pretty much quarantined to our house during the winter months. Our very first outing was to to The mall on March 21st 2015. World Down syndrome day. I had heard of Gigi’s through a mutual friend and knew I wanted to be a part of this day to truly heal. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to expect. I guess I envisioned a support group of sorts. I pictured a lot of people asking about my baby and me telling my story.  I pictured crying and strangers telling me how sorry they were.  And so,I brought back up. I rallied all of my friends and family to support me. As we walked to the event I was so completely scared but I didn’t need to be. There was no sadness there. Everyone was smiling and laughing and happy balloons bopped all over the place. There was music and dancing and a boy with Down syndrome was raffling off prizes. The only time people asked about my baby was if they could hold him and they did.   It was inspiration at its finest and Gigi’s will always be that defining moment when I realized that I was misinformed  and that I was a part of something very special.

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Nobody told me about all of the love . Nobody mentioned the good parts about this other world…where people take care of each other and believe in acceptance and kindness…And don’t even get me started about the person that Judah is. He makes us laugh and brings us joy every day. He amazes us every day.  That’s a whole other speech in itself. But No one tells you about all of these parts when you are a scared mom who decides not to do the test. I was so gravely wrong. I did not believe there were this many people in the world that cared about Down syndrome, let alone people in this room.  There is so much good….but there are also so many people out there who think the way I thought. I want to fix all of the people who believe what I believed.

So, I will continue to stand with Gigi’s  shaking and sweating and turning different shades of red until everyone in the world believes in people like Judah the way all of you do…thank you for that…. and thank you for having me tonight. Good night and God bless.

The Gift 

When I was a kid and Cabbage Patch kids were all the rage… I’m talking all the rage, like people beating each other up for them (that’s when you really know something is great) I, like every other kid in America, asked for one from Santa. Santa Claus did not deliver. I was devastated and heart broken. Instead, Santa did his very best and gave me a homemade, hand sewn, knock off , non-look alike, Cabbage Patch named Libby. I was mad at Libby for about ten whole seconds and then man, did I love on her hard. She went everywhere with me. Me and Lib were thick. Occasionally I would remember that she was not the real deal and be embarrassed by her falsities, however, love would always prevail and all of everything else would disappear.

I was pretty concerned about having a baby with Down syndrome. Even though now I know there are thousands of disabilities, Down syndrome seemed to be the one to torment me. People really spook you about that one. Never mind that I had a good friend who’s sister had Down syndrome or that an old boyfriend’s cousin had it too. Never mind that I wasn’t scared of either one of them and that I actually found them endearing. All of those goodie-goodie gum drops were tossed out in the trash when I thought that it could happen to me. The detriment of the possibility consumed me. And when it actually did happen,oh my how I fumbled. I spent quite a bit of time wondering how.  I was devastated, embarrassed and hurt. Judah’s big brother came to visit with his sweet big brother shirt on and it nearly killed me. This was NOT the little brother I wanted for my first baby boy. I became literally sick over it. I spent a little bit of time feeling sorry for myself and healing was a process.

I’m two years into the journey now. I’ve since had another boy and so that makes 3 darling little monsters for this mommy. While I simply adore all three of my sons, there is a fierceness in the way I love Judah; a fierceness that says “don’t mess with us!” Judah is my Scooby-doo, my Gilligan, my Beavis,my Ernie, my Oats, my Sonny and my Biden. We have something. People see it and I feel it. I am so in love with this little human that I am actually secretly mad about his independence. He is absolutely bound to do great things and leave me one day. 

All kidding aside, sometimes I can’t believe the way I have changed. I was moving bins of clothes around yesterday and I actually saw that old big brother shirt. I wept. I cried for how hopeless and hurt I was. I sobbed for what I didn’t know. That old pain is unforgotten. But now, I am not in the least bit scared anymore. In fact, I cannot wait to see this child every morning. He makes me laugh a thousand laughs a day and amazes me just as many times. I no longer wonder how this could have happened to me. Rather , I thank God everyday for giving me a gift of love that prevails and makes all of everything else disappear.