Today while I was shopping at my home away from home also known as Target, I got sucked into that tiny isle. You know, the one in the baby section with all the little tiny newborn socks, mini sandals that fit in your palm, and little onesies that could fit a doll. I looked at my big girl and I felt like I was just here buying her tiny sandals. Then I realized, "Hey, I was just here!" Rozie just recently grew out of newborn sized shoes, and honestly she wore 0-3 month for most of her first year. Rozie will be three in a few months and we are just now fitting in 24 month size, and honestly I'm loving every minute of her prolonged small size. This got me thinking about these simple wonderful things that go along with having a child with Down syndrome. The stuff they don't tell you when the genetic counselor is sitting there with their large flip board explaining chromosomes and what and not. Trust me, there is no page they suddenly flip to with a picture of the tiniest shoes that can make the heart melt of even the most non-maternal. They don't look at you and say, "See these little heart melting wonders? Your baby will wear them for at least 2 wonderful years! Every time you put them on her you will be forced to kiss her tiny toes, and most likely you may buy a few pairs and arrange them on a shelf so when she is not wearing them you can look at them anytime you want."
1. Children with Down syndrome typically have a smaller stature causing them to have a baby appearance for longer. Low tone also contributes to this appearance. I am the mother that still sniffles a bit to see that her first baby with the soft blond curls is actually now taller then me. I can honestly look each and every one of you in the eyes and say with all my heart that he was just a baby a few years ago, I was just holding his hand with the baby dimples last month. But alas he is grown into a teenager and it flew by way too quickly. Rozie is staying in this stage a lot longer, and I relish each and every minute of it. Give me baby fat, give me tiny clothes, give me soft baby snuggles, and hear me roar.
2. Children with Down syndrome need a little more help reaching their milestones. They do everything a bit later on the developmental charts. When a child has to work a little more to reach something we celebrate. When a child becomes a Bar Mitzvah we celebrate all the hard work and the huge achievements. This is what having a child with Down syndrome is like. Each milestone feels like a Bar Mitzvah. No joke, I almost rented a hall to celebrate when Rozie walked. I love this and I wish I celebrated each small milestone with my other children. I wish I jumped for joy when Dovie first tracked a toy with his eyes, but I honestly don't remember when that happened. For Rozie I know the exact time and date.
3. Having a child with Down syndrome will open your eyes in a positive way to the rest of the world. It will soften your heart allowing you a new form of acceptance for people of all abilities. I myself noticed that since I had Rozie, I was more accepting to people in general, but more so those who have mental disorders. One time a homeless man came into a store and started yelling at most of the shoppers. Nothing scary, just loud. I usually would try to avoid this type of situation like the plague, but I suddenly was able to see who he was, and I saw his neshama in a new light. I did not run, I just went on with my shopping. Thank you Rozie for giving me that gift. I plan to treasure it always.
4. When you have a child with Down syndrome new people come into your life. I have made friends across this country some who I genuinely cherish. I am so grateful that thanks to this little extra chromosome, I found these mommies to bond with. Without it, I really don't think this chassidishe mommy would have ever met these amazing moms from places like Kokomo, Indiana, Ohio, Westminster, and many other places that I have never even heard of. Since we are talking people in our lives, have I mentioned Rozie's therapists? Oh, it will be a tear filled day when Rozie is no longer eligible for services through infants and toddlers. I can not imagine what our life will be like without our weekly visits from some of our favorite people.
5. Last but not least, raising a child with Down syndrome is wonderful and amazing because having children is wonderful and amazing. You realize that a mother's love is not based on a child's ability but on your own ability to accept and love. You realize that having a child with special needs can sometimes be hard and sometimes not, and after you realize this you then realize this is true for all children. You realize that children with special needs are not beings that walk around suffering from an illness, but neshamas that learn and do things differently. I personally love celebrating difference.