The thing that gets me all the time about having a child with Down syndrome is that I never, ever, ever feel like I’m doing enough for him. That probably won’t ever go away.
Then there’s my “typical” daughter
Emma isn’t yet two and remembers the swim instructor’s name from one week to the next (and it’s not even her swim instructor). I find myself feeling guilty for doing too much with her because, well, it’s so easy. She toddles up with a book and starts turning pages and naming objects, with a few verbs tossed in. Ten minutes later, we’ve gone through 18 books and Charlie is still in the corner playing dance party with his stuffed Elmo.
Which is great. Don’t get me wrong. That he can play independently is fabulous, and that he has such an imagination warms my heart. But still. I need to work with him more. Always.
Then this happened
So, one night, after the kids are tucked in bed (possibly still protesting but that’s what the monitor volume button is for), I got a message on Facebook from a friend with whom I worked briefly but feel like I’ve known much longer and better because of Facebook. She’s one of those moms who posts The Whole Truth. Not just the shiny, happy baby pictures but the Oh God I Suck as a Mommy stories (and of course she totally doesn’t) and her love of drinks. (OK, that’s really why I feel like we’re FB BFFs).
Anyway. She started volunteering at her church’s Sunday School, and this happened on her first day, and she shared it with me:
A mom brought her daughter, Camille, in for the first time. Camille has Down syndrome, but that’s not really what made me think of you. The kids in every class had to answer the question “what gives you strength” and put the answer on a construction paper leaf (to be displayed in the narthex).
Watching Camille’s mom reluctantly leave her in a room full of her peers (k-1) wasn’t unusual, but her desire for Camille to enter and exist in that room and her worry that Camille would be frightened touched me. That might have been when i first thought of you.
But when I read Camille’s answer to the question “what gives me strength?” I thought…”one day Charlie Wallace is going to write this and I hope Maureen sees it.” Her answer? Mom. I don’t know if Camille’s mom will ever see it, but I hope she does.
So, of course, I did this
Perhaps it was because of my my pregnancy hormones. Perhaps it was because I so badly in that moment needed to feel like I am a good mommy (like, who doesn’t, right?). Perhaps it was because it was on one of those days when Emma and I read through the Library of Congress while Charlie played dance party with his stuffed animals.
Whatever. I cried. And I was thankful.
And I realized that no two days will ever be the same, and I will never give my children exactly the equal or needed time to help them as much as possible. But I will always try. And if someone I never see can see that, why can’t I?
Thank you, Erin. <3
Oh, and that child? Camille?
Well, I happen to know her mom because our local Down syndrome community is tight-knit and that’s how we roll. And I happen to know that she struggles with many of the same feelings of guilt, exasperation, frustration, overwhelming love and overwhelming fear as every other mom of a child who needs extra help in this life.
And I know she is a good mommy.
Funny how we are so quick to recognize everyone else’s worth but our own sometimes.