Well here we are in October. It is an important month for a lot of reasons in our family. I mean it holds one of our favorite holidays and it is the beginning of Fall. October gives you the right to have fires in the fireplace and pull out the fuzzy sweaters and October happens to be the month the Down Syndrome community make an extra effort to try and provide information as well as awareness to those not have not been touched by that extra chromosome. I love that…..and every year I have struggled to find the perfect way to participate.
The first year I ran the Chicago Marathon and raised money for Best Buddies, an organization I instantly fell in love with for many reasons. They value friendships and that was my biggest fear for Grace when she was born, that she would never have any friends. WOW! has she proved me wrong. She is a friend magnet and she has brought more friends into my life than I will ever bring into hers.
The second year I had big plans, I was going got contact my Doctors offices and let them know I would love to be a reference to them or to a new Mom who had been blessed with a child just as perfect as my Grace but I was not strong enough yet.
Even after 2 years of being Graces Mama I still struggled to say the words Down Syndrome. It hurt when her diagnosis was the first thing people noticed about her when we were in the grocery line. I still cried and I felt that was a weakness. I felt as though I could not support someone else when I was still pulling myself up by my own bootstraps. I was in envy of the parents who could say the words Down Syndrome out loud and could advocate for others. I did know one thing for sure I was madly in love with my little girl and I needed time to find the strength that she already had.
Now that my Daughter Grace is 3 years old I am celebrating this October and I am celebrating all the awareness it has to offer. I am standing strong and I am speaking up and it feels good. It took me awhile….. maybe longer then I would have liked but I am grateful for all those people who stood beside me and gave me nudges when I needed them. I am also thankful for all those who listened to me and gave me a shoulder when I needed that too. Because of all of you I was always able to enjoy the beauty that my daughter brought into our life. She has reminded me from the day she was born how important it is to pay attention and look at details closely. She has opened our hearts to others and the compassion and strength she has given me I can not begin to explain.
Life with Down Syndrome is just that…..life. We have our struggles and we have our worries just like everyone else but we have something that is different and something that is very real. We have a life that is worth living every day. We have a constant reminder that family is first and we have a duty to take care of each other. The little things don’t bother us like they used to because our picture is so much bigger and brighter. Our life is now focused on living and not hoping or wanting.
I am excited October is here again! I am ready and I will do all the things I wanted to do last year and more! I encourage everyone to step out of their box. If you are not celebrating someone you know who happens to have an extra 21st chromosome than say hello to someone you have walked by in the past. Smile and notice people you haven’t in the past. Lend a hand to someone who needs it. That is what this month is about. It is about awareness and acceptance for people who happen to have Down Syndrome but take it a step further…..It is really about acceptance in general. That is what we all want and what we all need to succeed. Make someone feel special in honor of all our loved ones who just happen to have Down Syndrome.