“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. I'll always be with you.”
~A.A. Milne, from "Winnie the Pooh"

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Future Encounters

Hello there.
You don't know me. We haven't met yet. But one day in the future, we will.
You will look at me, walking through a store, or sitting in a waiting room, or waiting in line behind you, with my daughter by my side and refuse to meet my eye. You will walk away, shaking your head, and thinking quite smugly, 'Better her than me." You will wonder briefly, as you drive home to be greeted by your normal children, in your normal house, your normal life, what would make someone choose to give birth to a child like that. You will think that there is no way you could ever deal with caring for a "handicapped" child. Then we will blow through your mind like a cool breeze and be gone.

That random encounter won't even involve any exchange of words at all. But I'm going to tell you that I will know what you are thinking. I will be gracious. I promise. But I will also be smugly thinking to myself about just what it is you're missing......

You're missing a smile like the very sunshine. You're missing bubbly laughter. You're missing all of the little celebrations that come with mundane accomplishments. You're missing the light, the beauty, the joy. You don't know how smart my Liddy is, or how much we love her. You're missing her love for us. You aren't the recipient of a one of a kind, dimple cheeked, split that precious face in half Lydia Anne grin. You're missing out on some of life's greatest lessons, all taught while watching a little girl who has more faith, more strength, more will power than most of the adults in this world and who faces every struggle head on. We are the light in her world. And that makes us the lucky ones.

We don't always get to choose the paths we walk in life. Sometimes the decisions are hard, while others are simply no-brainers. Having Liddy, just the way God made her, is a no-brainer to us.
That doesn't make us stronger than you, or wiser, or better parents. It just makes us parents who love their child.
We're really not that different, you and I.
Our goals, our hopes and dreams for our children, are just the same. My hopes and dreams for Lydia are no different than those that every parent has for their child. I am full of faith that those hopes and dreams will be realized, even if it takes us a little longer to get there than it does others. We both gaze at our children with wonder and are breathless with their beauty. We take pride in their accomplishments, and brag to everyone we meet about how bright, how talented, how awe inspiring they are. We both strive to raise intelligent, responsible adults who will spread their wings and soar into the clouds. We both shed the same grateful tears when we held our babies for the first time, and we will both shed the same tears of grief when the time comes to let them go.

This isn't the road I set out on. It's not the life I pictured. It's a work in progress still. And while it may not have been what I would have chosen....
It's better than I could have ever dreamed.


  1. Beautifully written post and spot on! Your last paragraph really hit home.

  2. I've been reading your blog for awhile and generally enjoy reading about your sweet little one. I am a bit disapointedly offended by this post. I do not have a child with down syndrome but I believe every child is a gift and I think it would benefit you(and everyone!) from believing that you know what "I" am thinking in the grocery line. Not everyone feels and thinks the way you describe and I think you are doing your daughter and yourself a disservice to see unkindness where it may not exist and feel false smugness. Not everyone will know or understand your life but you certainly cannot know or understand theirs either. Even someone who looks away is perhaps reliving the loss of a loved one or processing other emotions that should not negatively impact you or give you a sense of smugness that you know better. You don't "know me" and please don't assume that you do or ever will. Respectfully, MW

  3. Um, I think the above commenter really missed the mark a bit here.

    I don't believe Heidi is meaning EVERYONE...This post was written to only those who would judge or pity her. She is in no way suggesting EVERY ONE she comes in contact with is like this, or thinks like this, or feels like this...But the truth is there are some who really do.

    I have been standing in line at a store when an older woman actually "Tskd" when she looked at my son and shook her head with a frown as though saying "That's a shame"...And NO I did NOT misunderstand her! There are people out there who look down on our children and THIS post was written for THEM. Not for people like you!

    Us Moms who DO have a child with Down syndrome always see the good in other people, because we love people who love and accept our children...But we also see the ones who don't. We have to deal with both.

    Heidi, great post! I totally got it :)

  4. MV, I did not mean to offend anyone. It wasn't directed at those who don't feel that way about my daughter or anyone else's child either. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that a child is just that. A child. There are plenty of people in this big old world that truly believe that my child should not exist. That my child is a "defective" baby and that we shouldn't have brought her into this world KNOWING as we did that she had DS.
    My point to those people who feel that way is that my daughter is immensely loved. She is not a burden or a mistake. She is perfect. A blessing. Just as all children are.

  5. Well I thought it was beautiful. If someone else doesn't "get it" then they just haven't been in those shoes. Lovely, Heidi!

  6. I have not walked in these particular shoes and probably don't totally "get it" but I have walked in my very own shoes and have felt hurt by others when I was really only projecting my own fears, seeing malice where there was none intended. I think this world is a tough place but sometimes our fears and judgment of others make it even tougher(on ourselves). I would just hope that we could all see beauty as often as it exists and not look too hard for hurt. I understand that there are people who will express negativity towards your family. I really hope that you(and your daughter) will be on the lookout for the many loving hearts who would welcome and support you. Sorry my last comment wasn't well received. And not very well written! Thank you for sharing your sweet little one with the world, she is incredibly adorable!!! MW


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