All You Need is Love
This post is part of other Hump Day Hmms about how people walk out of stride.
After Polly’s birth, I was obsessed with her Down syndrome-ness. Thoughts about her life and how it would affect me consumed the minutes of her newborn days.
It was not time well spent.
I drove myself crazy early on, worrying about her health, about whether or not she would graduate from high school, about her looking like she had Down syndrome. I walked around with one shoe in the air, waiting for it to drop. I judged her cognition and social skills and speech and muscle tone; can she bring her hands together in mid-line? Does she make good eye contact? Is she babbling? Does she like tummy time?
I thought about people I know whose children are grown and out of the house. “It’s so good to know that you actually lived through this business of raising kids” I used to say to empty-nesters. “You’re free,” I’d joke. And the other person would smile and nod with a glimmer in his or her eye. These exchanges floated back into my head when I had Polly. And the words stung like a summer bee landing on my arm on a hot July day.
Really, it was no way to live. But how could I have known? Grief does strange things to people. All my coping mechanisms were scaled away and I had to start over. I had to get to know and become comfortable with my new persona: the mother of a child with special needs.
Although very wise people told me to just focus on my baby, to let the future take care of itself… no matter how much I processed, no matter how much I prayed, I couldn’t. I spent too much time worrying about the future. It’s embarrassing to admit, but true.
I missed out on her first year.
And then one day Polly laughed and smiled and showed me that she thought I hung the moon. And her thinking that I hung the moon, made me want to hang it. And so I did. I started to sing songs to her, to tickle her under her ribs, causing eruptious belly laughter. I started looking her in the eye, getting lost in what I saw there. I started bending my head down to rest it against hers. And I felt the love oozing out of both of us, mixing and becoming something magical.
Now I play with this love between us like it’s playdough. Some days I use it as a balm to cover my wounds. It helps me to heal.
Other days I throw it out like a boomerang and it encompasses others and then flings back to me, fuller and stronger then it was.
A person who had Down syndrome came into my life and became my child. I am sad to say that is how it happened. If I would wish for anything today, I’d wish that my revelation would have been the other way around. I wish I would have woken up one morning to discover that my daughter had Down syndrome. But it didn’t work like that for me.
And the journey is the journey, whether we like it or not.
Amazingly, now, most days I forget about the fact that I am parenting a child with Down syndrome. Really, honestly, she is just my youngest daughter, Polly, who loves music and peanut butter.
Our new favorite song is All You Need is Love by the Beatles. I bellow out the chorus, “All you need is love,” and Polly giggles and chimes in with percussion, “bum bump bum bum bum bum.”