Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I Know A Girl Who...


I know a little girl who accessorizes with the flair of an Egyptian Queen, flaunting her strings of beads and large dangly bracelets as frequently as possible.
She loves to tease her brothers, pulling hair or stealing their stuff and just waiting with devious anticipation for their response.

This little girl kindly reads to the baby whenever the mood strikes her, gesturing wildly and articulating words on top of words and yet even more words until the story always somehow seems to make sense.

This little girl has Down syndrome.

I know a little girl who begs to cook with her mommy. She grabs the roller and rollers the heck out of the dough whenever the situation calls for it. And cheese needs to be sprinkled? Sauce needs to be spread? I know a girl.

She pouted as her mother dropped her off at school this morning, her teen-like attitude as thick as pudding, but definitely not as sweet.

Speaking of pudding, this little girl adores chocolate. I feel like "adores" might not be a strong enough word?

This little girl has Down syndrome.

When this little girl was a baby, she stared death in the face, but stubbornly clung to life, returning to us to remind us that not one single day should be taken for granted.

Her birth was closely followed by two baby brothers and one baby sister. She holds strong to the title "Big Sister" and gets quite bossy when the situation calls for it (and even when it doesn't).

These siblings (minus the baby) run around like crazy- playing in a pack. A tight knit pack where she is an equal member.
This little girl has Down syndrome.

This little girl knows all of her letters, can count to 15, is learning to play the violin, is SO close to reading, and on the days she has music class she comes home saying "Ti ti ta!" with all the enthusiasm in the world.

She makes her bed and cleans her room (ish) and is an eager table setter. Her keen eye scopes out which plates do not have spoons- detective style- and lays out the needed spoon with all the precision of a surgeon making that first cut.

She'll sit at the table at Papa's house and serve herself- her strong hand remaining steady as she pours more cheese sauce over her broccoli. And then she'll refuse to eat the broccoli. She just really wanted to pour sauce over it.

She prefers to sit with the adults and chat as the other kids run off to play. She has a lot to say and she knows that they will listen.

This little girl has Down syndrome.

I know a little girl who has a lot of friends. She comes home eagerly chatting about her day with them, and when she arrives the next day for more school- they cheer to see her.

She is quick to forgive and quick to smile and her hug is like no other.

This little girl isn't perfect. She pitches fits and get mad and makes messes (and blames her brothers for the messes).

When she doesn't like the outfit that has been picked out for her, this little girl hides it, and goes to pick out a new outfit.

Her outfit is almost always better. Or at the very least more interesting. This girl has killer fashion taste.

This little girl has Down syndrome.

I know a girl whose presence fills the the house, yet she is small for her age. Tiny, really. With hands that fit perfectly in her Little Big Brother's hands as he helps her stay safe loading the van. Her tiny feet are quick to run and jump and climb because- hello- brothers need to be caught up with!

I know a girl who has alabaster skin, rosy red cheeks, blue eyes, and blonde hair. Sometimes that hair curls when it is feeling particularly saucy. Or humid.
I know a girl whose smile lights up the world, whose frown tugs at the heart strings, and whose tears can melt the hardest of hearts. (She has been known to use these tears to work at the hard heart of her mother who withholds ice cream cones for not eating dinner first. Can you say Mean Mommy?!)

This little girl has Down syndrome.

October is Down syndrome awareness month, but what is it exactly that you are supposed to be aware of?

This could go many different ways, but my point of this post is that Addison is a person- just like you, just like me. This list, that I wrote specifically about Addison, could really describe any number of little girls- Down syndrome or not.

She has likes and dislikes. Things she's good at and things she's not. She experiences intense joy, intense pain, and everything in-between.
If you are expecting a baby with Down syndrome, I cannot in good conscience promise you that your life will be all rainbows and unicorns because of your "extra"- anymore than I can promise this to anyone expecting any baby- extra chromosome or not. I can, however, promise you that you are giving birth to a human being. A person. An amazing, beautiful soul who will change your life forever in the best possible way.

And just like birthing ANY human, you will have good times and you will have frustrating times and you will have times you wonder "Is it too late to just get a puppy instead of having a baby?" times.

But so go the growing pains of raising a human being. A person. It comes with the territory. (Believe me, this happens equally with all four of my children. Down syndrome doesn't hold the rights over these roller coaster emotions of parenthood.)

And if you are just curious about Down syndrome and perhaps want to be friendly to Addison out and about, know that she is a little girl who loves to chat, and she has parents who don't mind telling you what she just said if she talks too quickly and you don't understand her. No need to panic. Just ask!

Life with Down syndrome has incredible take-away-your-breath highs and frustrating lows...oh wait...that kind of sounds like...life.

And even though there can be frustrations, I would be lying if I didn't set something straight. The message going to new parents with a child with Down syndrome- the message of "this life probably isn't worth it" and the doom and gloom and the "life can't be happy or normal because of the frustrations this child will bring"

THIS IS FALSE.

I can't say that strongly enough. I have experienced severe health needs and huge delays with Addison and I say as strongly as I can say it- WORTH IT. Worth every single blessed second that I have had the privilege of being Addison's mother.

I know a girl who lives life to its fullest- her laugh tickling the air and making it somehow sweeter to breathe. Her step is full of confidence, not a fear in the world.

I know a girl who gets frustrated and says, "I can't" but then when she keeps trying and trying, no smile is bigger than hers when she proclaims, "I did it!"

I know a little girl who has so much potential. She can do anything she sets her mind to. The milestones she has already achieved blow my mind on a regular basis. The sky is the limit for what she can accomplish in life, and I am honored to be on her cheer team.

I know a girl who knows its worth it to try. That all good things are worth fighting for.

I know a girl who has Down syndrome. She is my daughter. And she fills my life with joy.

Down syndrome awareness month. Welcome to October. Let's celebrate difference by choosing kindness. Getting to know the person. Celebrating life.

I'm celebrating Addison. She is the peoplest person that I know. And that's saying something. (-;

Here's to Down syndrome, personality, and chocolate- in that order. (Addison wouldn't have it any other way.)
 (Professional pics taken by Floor Three Creative)
Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.

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