Enjoy the Ride: A Celebration of Down Syndrome!

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Ah, yessss! October is here. Time to breathe in the crisp, cool air and take in the beauty of fall. For us, October also means a month-long celebration and advocating for individuals with Down syndrome! This fall is definitely a breath of fresh air. With all the chaos of our world in recent months (the recent presidential debate, for instance … need I say more?!), the ever-increasing pace of life, and all the things on our plates as moms, it can be so easy to miss out on what’s right in front of us. 

 

Sometimes we all need a reminder to slow down appreciate the here and now. And, sometimes, that reminder may come from your child! 

 

A few months ago, I was driving to Michigan with my family for our annual camping trip. We had our two boys in tow and “Captain Daddy” behind the wheel. Now, you should know that when you are pulling a huge trailer behind you, the bumps are a LOT bumpier!

 

 

 

Not long into our drive, we hit some areas with heavy construction – what a pain, right?! Ugh. Suddenly, we heard a chuckle behind us. Did we miss a joke? What’s funny? Our oldest was watching a movie at the time and oblivious to anything else, but we soon heard another giggle … 

 

I turned around to look in the mirror at our little guy, and he was laughing every. single. time. we hit a dip, ripple, or bump in the road! By the time we realized why he was giggling, the contagious belly laughs were uncontrollable as he bounced about in his seat!

 

Instead of annoyance, he was taking it all in, appreciating how fun it felt to be on a mini roller-coaster of a ride. It struck me right then that he was doing what all of us should do more often – simply ENJOY THE RIDE! 

 

 

My son with Down syndrome teaches me so many life lessons in the sweetest of ways. In light of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I’ll share a few of the things I’ve learned from him and the blessings that have come from his diagnosis.

 

Every life has intrinsic value, apart from anything they can do or achieve.

Harrison takes the scenic route in his development, and I learned early on not to compare him to other kids his age or measure his value based on a doctor’s checklist of development by age. He brings so much value and love to our lives just by being himself. This is a lesson for all of us as well. We don’t have to DO or BE anything. Our worth comes from within.

 

Don’t take developmental steps for granted. Every little step counts.

I realized within the first year how many things my older son naturally caught onto without me having to explicitly teach them. We have spent hours upon hours in therapies and early intervention over the years to teach those little in-between steps most people typically don’t even think about. But it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and that’s ok! We focus on the next step, work at it for longer than most, and celebrate along the way. It’s hard work, and those small victories are HUGE for Harrison!

 

Down syndrome is your ticket into a club you never knew you wanted to be a part of!

Last year in September, I attended a retreat for moms of kids with Down syndrome, and I can’t tell you how powerful it was to be in a room with 700+ other moms who GET you – who know what you are going through without you saying a word! The connection is amazing, and we support each other virtually every day. The strength of these women is inspiring, and I’m blessed to be a part of it!

 

 

Keep the small stuff the small stuff.

When you have a child with special needs, extra appointments, and medical challenges, it suddenly puts things into perspective, in a good way! The focus is on what really matters, and everything else fades into the background. I am grateful for the moments that re-align me with who I am and what’s important. Harrison is so resilient!

 

We have the privilege to be a voice for the voiceless. 

Having a son with Down syndrome has given me a new purpose as an advocate. I have felt a new sense of compassion and responsibility to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice or whose voices are overlooked. I’m grateful for a new lens and to personally be able to identify with a marginalized group of people. 

 

Down syndrome has brought so much GOOD into our lives! As I recently shared with some new DS mamas, “The BLESSINGS far outweigh the FEAR!”

 

What lessons have you learned from your children?