Thursday, March 20, 2014

Is she really mine?

It's been three years now since I became a mom and I have to admit, there are STILL days when I don't believe it.  I thought for sure that when Tera started saying "momma" that would do it, but sometimes I'm still surprised by the whole thing.  I can't say that I haven't experienced plenty of motherhood milestones; I was there when she was delivered, I've lost plenty of sleep due to nighttime feedings, crying, and worry.  I've answered the phone calls asking for the "mother of Tera Theodore", I've been to the doctor visits, the hospital stays, the therapy appointments. I sat in on her first IEP meeting, I've communicated with her teachers, I've filled out the never ending paper work, I've done the loads and loads of laundry, changed the diapers, bought the clothes and other less fun supplies, and finally heard "momma" uttered by my sweet little girl.  And yet somehow, on some days, it still doesn't feel real.

This is in no way a bad thing.  It's not that I don't feel like a mom, I just don't always believe that it's actually true.  I'm sure it's no surprise that I, like many other parents, have pictures of my child on my desk at work.  And for some reason, on some days, that smile on that face can light up my day like nothing else.  This past fall she took one of the best school pictures she's ever taken and I was able to leave her hair down and almost every time I look at it, I'm just taken aback with how completely beautiful she is.

In those moments, I'm not usually thinking about my daughter with Down Syndrome, I'm just thinking, damn, my kid is pretty damn adorable.  It seems to be hitting me a little more now that she's in preschool.  I'm communicating with a teacher, packing her backpack each night with a snack and drink, and in a few weeks she'll get a report card (of sorts).

Mostly when I look at her pictures (pictures are easier because unlike her, they are still), I really can't believe that Tom and I created such a perfect little being.  Sure she got an extra chromosome in the process which, I'll be honest, has come with a handful of complications and an abundance of stress, but she's perfect.

Tomorrow is World Down Syndrome Day.  My students have all been given the extra credit assignment of answering four questions:
1.) What is World Down Syndrome Day and why is it on 3/21?
2.)  What is one fact you know now, that you didn't know before this school year?
3.)  What is something you'd still like to know about Down Syndrome or what it's like to have Down Syndrome or have a family member with Down Syndrome?
4.) Have your views about Down Syndrome changed at all, and if so, how?

I will bring in treats for them and Tera is bringing in treats for both her classes.  We will also be going to Gigi's for their Family Fun Night/World Down Syndrome Day Celebration.  Tera will be wearing her new t-shirt ("I've got an extra chromosome, what's your superpower?"), and our family, friends, and coworkers will hopefully be sporting their Team Tera shirts.  It's a day for us to celebrate, not mourn, what Down Syndrome has meant to us and to Tera.  For me, it means getting to be part of an incredible community of people who celebrate differences and accomplishments.  It means being able to take extra pride in each milestone that Tera reaches because she works so very hard for each one.  It means acknowledging that this isn't a sentence, it's just a different life than what we had planned on.  It means daily challenges, regular tears, and more love than I've ever known from such a little person.

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

Sorry this kind of went in ten different directions, it was a thought process...

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