To be perfectly honest- I SHOULD be in bed. In fact, I was upstairs brushing my teeth and yawning- yearning for the comfort of a bed already warmed by husband- when I realized I had been mentally writing a new blog post. Who am I to deny the flow of words??
I want to start with this quote:
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”- Charles R. Swindoll
When I first heard this quote I was 20. I was working for a man whom I admired and respected very much. Mike was a heck of a boss. He was, by far, one of the biggest influences on my early adulthood. I will always remember him.
Mike loved this quote. He had me print it out and post it on the bulletin board above the phones at the pizza shop he owned and I helped manage. I read it every day. It made a HUGE impact on me and I still think of it to this day- nearly 12 years later. I can't thank him enough for this.
I was talking to a friend tonight. She is a wonderful mom. She is also blessed to be part of the DS community. I really like her. And, though we have never met in real life, I feel a strong connection to her. She is honest and funny and she is REAL.
She said something to me tonight that I have been thinking on so much and it's funny she said it to me tonight because I had a separate experience today which directly relates. She said to me, "I don't love the DS."
I have said numerous times that I would not change my boys for anything. If I were given a wish it would not be to remove their 3rd 21sts. Until tonight, no one has made me think about that too much. She did.
Here is my reasoning. Casey and Connor are everything I never knew I needed or wanted in my life. They are the reason I am who I am today. More importantly, the fact that they have DS is a HUGE reason why I have grown and evolved into who I am. If I were to change this one thing about them I would change everything about my life today. I would not have the friends I have. I would not be as patient and caring. I would probably not have gone back to church and focused on my faith as I have. I would not be as happy with me. If I were to remove that teeny tiny little extra genetic material my ENTIRE LIFE WOULD BE DIFFERENT.
Think about that- the very thing that pregnant women dread, pray to happen to someone else's baby, not theirs- is the exact thing that has made my life and ME into something to be proud of. That's heavy stuff. If it weren't for Casey and Connor's DS I would have continued going about my life as a self-centered jerk, using the R word, judging people, not caring- pretty much just sucking. Instead, God gave me my sons and in doing so he blessed me with something else many people pray for- a second chance at living a life to be remembered. PRAISE BE TO GOD!
The first few days after "The Diagnosis" were a roller coaster. I was devastated and in love, I was broken and battered and also made whole, I was destroyed and rebuilt. Honestly- it was almost too much to keep up with- I went through every emotion known to man- and then some. At the end of those days though I came out of the darkness and into a world that is so much better and more beautiful than any I had ever known.
When I looked into the stunningly beautiful faces of my sons I felt the weight of the job given to me- it weighed heavy on me but at the same time- I knew I was capable of succeeding and making a difference. I made the decision that I would go into the world and spread the word that life is not over because you have a child/ren with a disability. It's just a new path.
In the last 21 months I have learned so much. I have learned that life really IS about your attitude. I am positive and upbeat about everything in our lives about 99.5% of the time. There are days when I feel sad, or overwhelmed or just plain sorry for myself but then I remember that Casey and Connor deserve to have a mother that cherishes them- as they are- no questions- no limits.
I mentioned another incident that happened earlier in the day. While we were waiting for Matt to finish his last class on campus today, the boys and I were sitting on a bench enjoying the beautiful day and watching all the people. They loved all the "big boys"- aka college boys- walking by. They smiled and waved and even got a few high 5's from these 19 and 20 somethings. It was great.
Sitting on the bench beside us was a very pretty woman. She was polite and smiled and asked the usual questions we get- 'Are they twins' 'How old' 'What are their names'- the basics. Then she asked me if they were walking and talking a lot. I smiled and said, "No. They both have Down syndrome and they are delayed a bit in those areas but we get closer everyday." She looked at them, looked at me and said, 'I'm sorry, I didn't know.' I told her many people don't notice and that they are the biggest blessings in my whole life. We talked more- about her 6 month old son, her desire for another baby, the boys' fan page (shameless plugs all around!!) and she thanked me for talking with her.
As she was leaving she said to me 'Many people are afraid of having a child with Down syndrome and here you are, and you are SO happy. Smiling. It's inspiring.' My heart sang. She told me she'd look the boys up on Facebook. I hope she does. I also hope she reads this so she knows how much she truly touched my heart today. A few minutes after she left another woman- barely a woman- came out and said to me that the boys are the the most adorable babies she'd ever seen. She asked me, 'Do they have Down syndrome?' I said yes. She went on to explain that her uncle who is almost 40 has DS and is 'so high functioning you'd never know it' and he is 'awesome.' She stayed long enough for C&C to smile and flirt a little and left as Matt came out of the building.
I love days like this. I love to meet new people and tell them that my life is amazing and worth living and that Casey and Connor lead full lives. I love meeting people who already know what I know- that DS is beautiful and the people who have it are angels on Earth.
My attitude about our life is one of positivity and hope. I believe with all my heart that I can make a difference and that C&C can and will accomplish amazing things. If my attitude were any different I don't think I could function.
So, here is my conclusion. I love Casey and Connor. I love every single thing about them from their beautiful almond shaped eyes, their single palmar crease, the broad flat plane of the bridge of their nose. I love their perfect little toes, their curiosity, their hugs, their moods, their belly buttons. Everything. Every. Last. Chromosome.
I even love the DS.
Food for thought- “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Chuck R. Swindoll
What will YOU do with your great opportunities?