My daughter turned five years old last week. Five. I’ve been a mother for five years now. This certainly does not make me a seasoned veteran by any means, but I’ve exited the rookie years.
I didn’t do a social media post about her big milestone birthday. We were busy and I forgot. The truth is, I wouldn’t have forgotten if it were my son with Down syndrome.
If you think this post is about to be a bashing session of myself, it’s not. I share more about my son with Down syndrome than my other two kids who do not possess an extra 21st chromosome. Here’s why: some people think my son should not exist.
When some find out that I knew beforehand that my son would have Down syndrome, a silence ensues. In one case, I had a stranger tell me that it was a shame I found out mid-way through the pregnancy because that presented a more difficult decision.
Some people see my son’s face when we are out in town and feel sorry for him and sorry for us. They see his existence as a less-than life.
I don’t blame them. I wondered the same thing when we got the diagnosis. I thought that extra chromosome stole something from him. I saw it as a subtraction, instead of the addition that it is.
So, I write more about my middle child than I do my other two. It’s not because he is more important than his siblings; it’s because there’s a misconception out there that he is living a less important life.
Here’s what I want you to know — although I may post about my son with Down syndrome more, that does not mean I love him more.
His sister — the one who just had the birthday — man, it’s hard to put into words how grateful I am for her. I mean it. Even at five years old, I can tell you she’s the kind of daughter people pray for. I bought her a shirt recently that says, “Best day ever!” Although coined by a Disney movie, she says this nearly every day and means it. She finds joy so easily. She’s kind-hearted, empathetic, and just downright fun. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Everyone who knows her knows this. When we walk the streets, there’s no need to defend her existence. No one feels sorry for her, for who she is.
I’m not going to lie to you. At times I worry about her brother upstaging her. His needs are greater. Right now he requires more time. I know this is something I’ll always need to keep in check. But I am checking it.
Please don’t mistake us special needs parents as being biased toward (or having favoritism for) our children with disabilities because we post about them more. We post more to connect with the online community who gets us. We post more because we hope to change the world, just a little bit, for our kids who don’t quite fit the worldly mold. It’s not because they are more important, it’s because we are trying to show society that their lives are just as important.