All You Need is Love

May 21, 2008 at 5:41 pm 16 comments

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.” 



Entry filed under: Down syndrome, Family, Friends, Grief, high school, Love, Mothering, Parenting, Peanut Butter, Polly, Prayer, Singing, Special Needs, Therapy. Tags: .

More Music I’m Schooled

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. theramblinghousewife  |  May 21, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    So sweet!

    And I think all parents get pre-occupied with the worry at some point.

    It’s just greatly compounded when you have a child with a disability.

  • 2. tom  |  May 21, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    What a great post! I too “freaked” out when Ian was born, and now wonder why. I’m looking forward to the day when I can teach Ian some songs too.

  • 3. Madison Warren  |  May 21, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Very cute! Tell Polly I love her…..Just as a little girl who in my mind is MORE perfect that all the rest!!!

    Made perfectly by God….just for You!


  • 4. Lisa  |  May 21, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I just LOVE your blog. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that. You have a real talent.

  • 5. Julie Pippert  |  May 21, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    This is so beautiful and moving.

    You know, my youngest daughter was born and things were difficult. Things got in the way. I held her, I did all the things you should. I loved her, but…I hadn’t fallen in love and that’s the real moment.

    I remember the moment. She was in my arms, this little girl, and I suddenly noticed her hair—her crazy stand on end hair, and it was a blow to the chest, this falling in love. Because of her hair.

    That moment, it comes at different times for each of us. Take heart with that.

    So glad you joined in.

  • 6. Julie Pippert  |  May 21, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    P.S. Oh my gosh she is SO adorable in that photo—little person playing drum. Too precious.

  • 7. ukrainemom  |  May 21, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Thank you Julie! I loved finding your blog today. Will be checking back!

  • 8. Stephanie  |  May 22, 2008 at 1:22 am

    I found your blog through Julie’s Hump Day Hmm links. What a great post. I worked in early intervention before I had babies of my own, and I had a similar experience as a teacher. I wasn’t just looking at a child with cerebral palsy, I was looking at a baby. A baby. It changed my life. But it took a long time for the switch. I can only imagine how much harder it would be as a mom.

  • 9. Emily  |  May 22, 2008 at 3:55 am

    Rockin’ post today. They all teach their parents how to love them properly.

  • 10. ukrainemom  |  May 22, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Thank you all for stopping by. And thanks Emily, for pointing the way to Julie’s blog. Good stuff.

  • 11. mayberry  |  May 23, 2008 at 3:14 am

    What a great point, Emily, that babies teach us how to love them … today’s my first visit and what a beautiful post to start out with. Thanks for reading mine too.

  • 12. TheRamblingHousewife  |  May 23, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    I don’t know how I missed the picture of Ms. Polly on the first time I read this.

    (And yes, I actually re-read it because it is so good.)

    But I must say, that Polly is such a cutie-pie!

    She’s delicious!

    (That’s a word I use for my little one!) 🙂

  • 13. ukrainemom  |  May 23, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    I put it up later, thinking it fit well with the percussion bit of the post. Thanks! We think she’s quite somethin’!

  • 14. Sandy  |  May 26, 2008 at 2:44 am

    What a lovely post. Thank you.

  • 15. anniegirl1138  |  May 26, 2008 at 2:49 am

    You know, it’s upending when what you planned on – because it is what 99.9% of us get – isn’t at all.

    I spent the first year after my husband’s terminal diagnosis much as you did when your daughter was first born – learning and worrying and despairing. And I missed that time with him and he’s gone now and I can’t make that time back up.

    It happens. We are human and we have to adjust and re-wrap our minds around the reality we live as opposed to the one’s we dreamed of.

  • 16. kate  |  May 27, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Lovely post! And she is lovely, too!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Our new friend Hope needs our prayers too!

Polly needs our prayers!

Reece’s Rainbow Christmas Angel Tree

To Select a Bauble For Your Blog


All material on this blog is copyright of Gillian Marchenko

%d bloggers like this: