When It’s OK To Stare

I actually wince when I catch someone staring at my youngest daughter, Willow. That’s because it hurts me. It physically hurts me. I imagine all the horrible things that person might be thinking while looking at my daughter and it causes my heart to break, hence the pain. I want to just yell back “It’s only an extra chromosome!”

But, I don’t.

Instead, I usually just snatch my littlest love up in my arms, snuggle her in tight and whisper in her ear that I love her.


I hate when people stare.


Yet, I do it all the time. Stare at Willow, that is. I just can’t take my eyes off of her. But, I stare for different reasons.

For starters, Willow is beautiful, an absolute stunner. From her almond shaped eyes to her little sausage toes. From her wavy brownish, blondish, not-sure-what-color-it-even-is hair to the tiny little mole on her ring finger. From her squishy little nose to her pudgy knees. Even the scars on her chest and stomach are gorgeous in my book. They tell the story of her life, after all.

Which brings me to another reason I find myself always staring at my daughter. I’m in awe of her bravery. Not even 4 years old and Willow has conquered heart surgery, bowel hernia surgery, neutropenia, and a cancer scare. Recent blood tests show she’s also likely battling celiac disease. What a brave knight. Yet, I don’t see any armor! How does she do it? She’s so tiny, yet so giant. Look at her.


Look at her!

Seriously! It’s ok this time. It’s ok to stare this time.

I want you to look at my daughter the way I do. I want you to see what I see.

Yes, I know you can see Down syndrome. And yes, I know it makes Willow different. But, can you see how amazingly stunning different can be?

Do you see how you can feel her smile?


Do you see how she dances even when there isn’t any music?

Do you see how she pushes forward when life keeps trying to drag her backwards?

Do you see how she laughs with her entire body?

Do you see how she loves? Fully and completely.


Do you see how she lives while many of us just go through the motions?

Do you see what I see?


If you do, I’ll be able to tell in the way you’re staring at my daughter. I’ll know. I can always spot the difference. That is, when I choose to take my eyes off of my beautiful daughter….


** If you like to stare at Willow’s pictures as much as I do, check out Ashley Booker (soon-to-be Thiel) Photography… Ashley is pretty much a rock star. **

Click here to go to Ashley’s website

8 thoughts on “When It’s OK To Stare

  1. I find WIllow to be quite the young lady. You can see the fiesty spirit that she has and that curiosity to explore all parts of her world, in her way. She is a child I would probably take a 2nd look at in a public place–not to make you feel bad—but to watch her learn about her world.

    There was a story on KARE 11 last week about a teenager from somewhere in the Mpls metro. She happens to have Downs too. She is now designing her own line of clothing and beginning a modeling career. So, even if you are blessed with an extra chromosone, you can do many things. And your little lady will definitely go places. She has too much spunk to just accept what she is told are her limits.

    I look forward to your updates. I think one of my favorites was last year, before Willow was walking. You showed pictures of her enjoying herself outside and the beautiful dirt she collected while exploring.

  2. I want to thank you for sharing the ups and downs that a family deals with having an extra special child to love and provide for. I enjoy the updates to the inside of raising this special gift from God. I hope you will continue to share.

  3. Thank you for those beautiful words.I think we see our beautiful kids different we don’t see that extra chromosome ,but is very important to let the rest of the world know that we have a heart and have feelings and they get broken when people make such mistakes as looking at our precious children like if they were scary.I love my Leslie she’s know 25 and she’s the light of my heart. Willow is beautiful God bless her. Thank you again.

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