I’ve read enough and have heard enough to know that it definitely… is… coming.
It’s been 21 months since my daughter Willow was born. You’d think I’d have something prepared by now. A response, ready in my pocket. A facial expression reserved only for that moment. A gesture, cocked and loaded. I don’t have any of those. But, then again, how does one prepare for the day someone makes fun of their daughter, or worse yet, questions the value of her life?
The day Willow was born, she received her first label: Trisomy 21/Down syndrome. It’s a label we weren’t prepared for, but fully accepted. Since that day the list of labels has grown. “Special,” “Adorable,” “High Risk,” and “Failure to Thrive” are just a few that come to mind. I can’t argue with any of them. They’re all true, or were true at one point in time. Heart surgery took care of the whole “Failure to Thrive” thing. The “Special” and “Adorable” labels are sure to stick around. Just look at this girl!
Seriously. Look at her. Isn’t she amazing?
Willow is a gift from God. A hand crafted gift, mind you. He knew what He was doing when He snuck that extra chromosome in her. He gave her “more.” Why do some in this world see “less?”
I breaks my heart to think of some of the labels people have for Willow. They see her as some sort of joke or burden. Let me tell you, those are two labels I may not be prepared for, but I will never let stick. And don’t even think about using the R-word on my baby. I’ll… I’ll… well… I don’t really know what I’ll do at this point, but believe me, that is one label I aim to destroy.
In a society that preaches acceptance and equality, it’s hard to believe that this kind of ignorance and hate still exists. But, it does. And I know I’m bound to run into it. When I do, I pray that I’m ready, that I can stand up for my daughter, my beautiful daughter, yet not stoop to the level in which it came from. I pray that I don’t throw a punch. I pray that I don’t break down and cry. I pray that I don’t freeze. God, please, please don’t let me freeze. Willow is counting on me.
Because someday, she’ll need to be the one ready. And I want my girl to not only change minds, but also the world.