Saturday, December 18, 2010
I had just picked up Victoria from Mom's Day Out (at our church) and we walked over to our church's Christian School to wait for Elyssa and Natalie to get out for the day. Since we had some time to kill, Victoria and I went out onto a small playground that is right beside the school building so Victoria could play a little. Kathy, one of the the custodial staff at the school who just happens to have Downs, must have seen me and Victoria on the playground through the double-glass doors. She came out to the chain-length fence and said "hey" to us. Kathy LOVES to see Victoria (see my previous blog titled "She's Like Me" to get the full story on Kathy and Victoria's encounters). I walked Victoria over and told her to wave at Kathy. She blew her a kiss instead! Victoria went on playing and I stayed by the fence to talk to Kathy.
I was amazed at the depth of the conversation between Kathy and me during those few moments we talked. Kathy told me that she understood how I felt. She said that her mom went through the same things with her that I have gone through with Victoria. She said that her mom had therapists come to her house to work with her when she was little, too. She told me that she can do more than a lot of Downs folks can. She said she can hold a job and has for many years now. She said some "DS" people cannot do all that she can do. I told her that I knew that. I asked her if she was as active as Victoria when she was little. She laughed and said she probably was.
Next, she asked me something that I had to ask her to repeat. She speaks very clearly ... so it wasn't that I didn't understand what she said. I was just taken back by her question. She asked me what I thought of Victoria since she has Down syndrome. Can you imagine? A 30-year-old woman with Downs asking me how I felt about my own daughter because of her disability! I almost cried. I knew how, at one point when Victoria was first born, I felt sad to have a special needs child. I knew that I had grieved over having a child that was "different." I thought back to all of those emotional times as I thought through how to answer Kathy's question. I couldn't bring myself to tell Kathy about all of the thoughts I struggled through in those beginning days. But, Kathy's question made things come full circle for me. It made ME wonder ... how did Kathy feel knowing she was different as she was growing up? What types of emotions and thoughts did she or does she have about being a special needs child/adult? It made me realize, again, that I need to always be sure I build ALL of my children up with encouragement, even my special little girl. So ... after a ton of things flooded through my mind, I answered her. I said, "Well, I think Victoria is pretty special." I told her that I love her and know that she is a big blessing to our family.
It was a real ironic moment. I think God has allowed our family to have contact with Kathy to see all that Victoria CAN do. Not what she CAN'T do! I think the thing that I always have to remember on this journey is to push Victoria to be all she can be. I want to treat her as "normal" as possible. I want her to accomplish much in her life. I don't ever want her to make excuses for herself just because she has Down syndrome (and I don't ever think that will actually happen because our little girl is SO determined!).
I think I will be blown away by all that Victoria will accomplish in her lifetime. And, I know that I always want her to feel loved and treasured. I want to help her reach her goals and see great things for her life.