Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What Was She Supposed To Be Like?

It happened today.

The moment assaulted me out of nowhere- spoiling a beautiful afternoon.

I hate it when this happens. It fills me with questions I can't answer and a profound sadness. For a while this moment was all my moments- spoiling all of life. But now this moment is just a random hint of wind, rushing by my face quickly- leaving only a sting on my face from the hit of cold air.

We were on the playground. Carter was running around in circles, grinding his feet into the mud as much as possible while still practically flying across the grass. Eli was tucked safely in my front carrier. His white hood framed his face perfectly as he stared up at me with his wide blue eyes and small red lips. I tried to capture the essence of his baby beauty in a picture, but couldn't get it quite right and satisfied myself with a sort-of picture and a mental snapshot- hoping I would never forget.
Addison was sitting on top of the wooden play structure. She labored over climbing the ladder to get up- begging for help but then finishing on her own when mean ol' mommy refused to help.

Her purple jacket wrapped around her. Her small hands peeked out from the sleeves. They looked cold. The wind whipped around us, so I pulled Eli even closer to me as I stared up at Addison.

It was in that moment that it happened.

The clear spring sky framed her face, matching her blue eyes. A curl blew from her shoulder onto rosy red cheeks. Her lips parted slightly. She tugged her cold hands into her long sleeves. She intently stared at me with a strange look on her face, and I felt like I could see into her soul.
Time stopped for just a moment as the question popped into my mind.

"What was she supposed to be like?"

I stared at my beautiful daughter, capable of so many things, so beautiful, so talented. And yet- what was my daughter supposed to be like without Down syndrome? What would she be like as a normal 4 year old? Would life be easier if she was developmentally her age? Are we missing out on something? What should her personality really be like- without delays, without the medical label "mentally retarded"? What would my daughter be like- smart and fast?

I see the babies born the same year she was, and they are already in an entirely different league than she is. Carter at 2 1/2 has already passed her up in almost every area. Life with 3 young children often feels that much harder because my oldest really isn't getting "older" like a typical child would- still requiring much care.

And in that moment- I let the questions pour in. I didn't stop them. I didn't try to answer them. I let myself have the moment. I needed it. I leaned into the sadness and let it take over- just for a moment.

She broke the moment first, her lips widening into a broad smile. The kind that brightens her face and a thirty mile radius around her. I smiled in return.

"Mommy." she beamed "Slide."

And with her smile I remembered- these questions don't question my daughter's intelligence or what I dreamed my daughter would be like. These questions question the very sovereignty of God. In reality the question "What was she supposed to be like?" is asking "Did God make His first mistake?" "Did He mess up when creating her?" "Did he create a 'normal' little girl, make an error, and then send the defect our way because we didn't deserve the whole package?"

When asked this way, it sounds ludicrous to me. I believe in a perfect Creator- one who makes no mistakes. I believe in a sovereign God who had this path planned out for our family long before we were even a family. I believe in the handiwork of my Savior who lovingly sent me the beautiful children that He wanted me to mother. I believe in a God who does not make mistakes. There is no such thing as a defect from God. I trust this God. And I know that the good He promised me was in that moment staring back at me with blue, almond shaped eyes- the complete package. The little girl who has always had an extra chromosome- even from the beginning of time. For there is no Addison without Down syndrome- God perfectly created her this way.

To ask "What was she supposed to be like?" can only be answered one way.

This.
She was supposed to be like this.

Beautiful, capable, talented, with Down syndrome and all that that means.

Sometimes my mind goes to dangerous places. But it always returns to this. And in returning, my mind is filled with thankfulness.

Thankful for this path. Thankful for His goodness. Thankful for Addison. Thankful for Down syndrome.

Because it truly isn't an "extra" that was tacked on in a judgement hall for parents who needed to be punished. It is an etching in a perfect design that was graciously matched with parents who desperately needed an Addison to love. Who desperately needed her perfectly created self in their lives. And what the world may see as "mental retardation" I now know as something so much more. It is a part of the beautiful gift of a specifically created life. A life that is different, yes- but a life that is no less important and no less deserving of complete acceptance that exactly who she is now is exactly how she was always meant to be. 

As I smiled back at my daughter on the playground, these thoughts flashed through my mind and my smile widened. I asked her to take her glasses off her neck that she was wearing like a necklace because I knew she was going to go down that slide on her belly. She quickly took off the glasses and handed them to me. Loving the quickness of her response, I was also reminded of how smart and fast she is- in her own way.
She scooted over to the slide and sat there for a minute, deliberating. The wind blew more hair onto her reddened cheeks. Her feet looked tiny dangling down onto the green slide. Her cold hands gripped the sides of the slide as she prepared to go down. Her forehead wrinkled in concentration, and then at the last minute she flipped over onto her belly and slide down- feet first. She was shrieking with laughter as she slid. Because she loves the slide.

Watching her, my heart swelled with love and pride for what an amazing person she is. She is a complete joy- a puzzle piece cut with curves and edges to perfectly match the "big sister" spot in our family's puzzle. I couldn't imagine life without her. Just like this.




Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.
 
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