I watch Abby as she sleeps. She’s so pretty. Her big, almond shaped eyes that can’t quite decide if they want to be blue or brown. Her tiny hands and chubby feet. All laid in a quiet ball in my arm. Her breathing is labored, as it usually is when she has a cold, but her body is still.
I’m met with the simple reassurance that this was meant to be.
Abby’s extra chromosome is not a mistake. It’s not an abnormality. She has Down syndrome. She was made that way.
Casey comes in. It’s been a rough night for all of us. He wiggles his way into my other arm and nuzzles his head into my shoulder. He can’t keep his legs still and his movement wakes up Abby. She opens her eyes with a crusty look on her face, sees who she’s with and her angst explodes into joy. She wriggles out of my arm and climbs over me and pounces on Casey. He laughs and pretends to be put off. He speaks in lines chosen from various TV shows and movies. “She’s just a baby, she doesn’t do much…” he says as he squeezes her and puts her on the ground to resume our snuggle.
I laugh. This was meant to be.
Casey’s autism is not a mistake. It’s not an abormality. He has autism. He was made that way.
My children were born this way. I have come to accept that. Acceptance does not mean that I do not wish my kids had life just a little bit easier. It doesn’t mean that I’m okay with Abby getting sick as much as she does or that I’m okay with watching Casey as he struggles to calm a body that will not be calmed. It does not mean that I don’t work tirelessly to get them the best services to help them on their way. It means that I love my kids for who they are. For who they were born to be. I want the world to see my kids as Abby and as Casey. Not just as their respective diagnoses. I want people to see them not less and even not more because of the Down syndrome and autism, but as equals.
And being different is so good. It’s what gives color, depth and richness to this life. I’m grateful for the things that make me different. I’m grateful for the people that I have met that are so much different than me- because they teach me. Everyone has their own beauty, their own worth and their own need for acceptance for who they are.
We were not meant to all be the same. We were meant to be different. You were meant to be the person you are. You were born with certain dispositions, a certain way of looking at the world and life has given you the experience to make yourself better. Don’t conform.
You were meant to be, too.