I apologize to anyone who reads this blog. I’ve been ignoring it lately. That’s because I’ve been vacationing in Downinthedumpsville. I never planned to visit… but somehow I got there. And to be honest… it’s by God’s grace that I’m back… because Downinthedumpsville is not an easy place to leave.
My trip started a few weeks ago… while out-and-about. A woman passing by Willow commented on how cute she is. After agreeing and thanking her for noticing… a conversation started. Here’s how it went:
Woman: “How old?”
Me: “About 8 1/2 months.”
Woman: “Is she crawling yet?”
Me: “No. She actually is working on sitting up right now.”
Woman: “Oh.” (look of confusion)
Me: “She has Down syndrome… so her muscle tone is low…”
Woman: “Oh! Well… she sure is cute.”
After we exchanged smiles… I started packing my bags. Downinthedumpsville was calling.
As Willow gets older… her differences are becoming more apparent… and the conversations are becoming more awkward. I hate it. Pure and simple. It kills me that no matter how much I want my daughter to feel loved, accepted, included… she’ll always stick out to others. She’ll always be different. I LOVE those differences… but when they’re constantly pointed out or made apparent… will she? Will she love herself? Or will she feel the weight of insecurity? Like me….
Ever since I can remember… I’ve felt different from those around me. There are many reasons why… and I could spend all day listing them… but I’m not going to. That’s because I can’t stand when my differences are pointed out. Ok… for entertainment sake… I’ll let you in on a few: While I’m a girl… I have NO sense of fashion. I don’t own any heels. A ponytail is as fancy as I get. I’m also Cheap with a capital C. Actually… make that a lower case c… I bet those are cheaper. And lastly… I actually don’t mind being a janitor. Even the toilet cleaning part! Sure… working in tv was fun… but cleaning offers instant gratification like no other job can. Now back to my point… I’m a strange duck. Just ask my husband. He’s a strange duck too. In fact… sometimes it feels like he’s the only one who gets me…
The other day I made an attempt to escape Downinthedumpsville by visiting a park with some other mommy friends. While everyone was smiling… enjoying the sun… and sharing stories about their kids… I was being dragged somewhere else. Downinthedumpsville. I couldn’t fight it. I tried and tried… but every word out of their mouths… every movement of their children… pushed me further and further away. I felt so alone. Like I no longer related. My kid isn’t like theirs. She’s amazing… she’s beautiful… she’s a blessing… but she’s also different.
That night I shared my pain with my husband… and cried. A lot. All my life I’ve just wanted to fit in. But no matter how hard I try…. I never do… and I never will. And then it hit me. Neither will Willow. It was in that moment that I saw the road… the road out of Downinthedumpsville.
All this time I’ve viewed my differences negatively… allowing them to become sources of insecurity. What I’ve failed to consider is what God sees. He has uniquely designed me to be Willow’s mom. I need to start celebrating what makes me unique… what sets me apart. And more importantly… I need to teach Willow that it’s not only ok to be yourself… it’s good to be yourself… to love yourself… to celebrate yourself. Because look at this girl:
She deserves to be celebrated! In fact… we all do. No matter how strange we might seem to others….