Recently, I was watching one of my favorite Christmas movies, called “The Family Stone.”
In a poignant scene, a son introduces his girlfriend to the family during Christmas. As they gather around the dinner table, the conversation takes an unexpected turn when the topic of one son being gay arises. The mom, in a lighthearted manner, expressed a wish that all her boys would be gay, so they’d never leave her. This sparked a tense moment as one of the sons’ new girlfriends questioned why the mother wouldn’t want her children to be “normal,” causing a scene that prompted a few family members to leave the table. Yet, what unfolded next remains etched in my memory: she gently tossed her fork onto her son’s plate, a son who is hard of hearing. She signed and mouthed the words “I love you,” affirming that he is more normal than anyone else at the table.
What does “normal” mean? I never understood how hurtful a word could be until I had Kay. To me, Kay is perfect- strong, resilient, and no different from her typical peers.
Through my journey, I’ve encountered families who embrace the prospect of having another child with Down syndrome, some even expressing hope or considering adoption. These experiences are a testament to the rich diversity of paths families embark upon.
Recently, I stumbled upon a reel featuring an influencer in tears. Expecting a baby girl, she revealed that all her tests came back normal except one. The specifics were uncertain, but what was clear is that her unborn child would not have Down syndrome. In her emotional disclosure, she remarked, “I’m not sure what’s wrong with my baby. I’m just glad she won’t be born with Down syndrome.”
This statement stung. I try to empathize, recognizing the woman’s journey through the realm of unknowns. Unaware of the beauty that accompanies loving someone with Down syndrome, her words, I believe, stemmed from fear and lack of understanding. Reflecting on my own initial fears upon learning about Kay’s diagnosis, I remember the apprehension, not about Down syndrome itself, but the unknowns that accompanied the revelation. All I wished for was the well-being of my baby.
Perspective is a powerful lens, unique to everyone. I earnestly desire that everyone could glimpse life through the eyes of those who know and love someone with Down syndrome.
As parents, our deepest desire is to see our children thrive and overcome any obstacles they may face. It’s a universal sentiment. Yet, the beauty lies in the unique journeys our children take. Each path, including those with Down syndrome, is marked by strength, resilience, and the potential for boundless love. So, let’s challenge our definitions of ‘normal’ and open our hearts to the extraordinary experiences that come with embracing diversity.