Tonight, I was putting Lennon to bed... Her teeth were brushed, her hair pulled back, & her princess pajamas were on... She was all set. I turned off the big light after I turned on the little lamp. She climbed in her big girl bed for the second night in a row. I rolled back the covers & she tucked her wee legs in the cold sheets. She laid there on her tummy, all ready for "night night".
I said, "Ok, let's say our prayers." She laid there on her belly & propped her head up on her elbows, with her tiny hands clasped.... And I prayed.
At the end, I said, "In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen" and she nodded (her "amen"). Then, she laid her head back down. I kissed her goodnight, cut off her lamp, and left the room.
I walked to the den. I sat on the couch and I cried. No, not sad tears. Happy tears. I thought to myself, "It's not at all what I expected."
When Charlie stepped out of Lake's room, I told him of her sweet little prayer time, and how it surprises me. Surprised at how big she is now.
I also told him, "It's not at all what we expected."
His response? "Yeah... It's normal."
We laughed at our old ignorant naive selves.
Coming from a person who bucks the "norm" at every opportunity...
This is a surprisingly welcomed norm.
Looking back on myself the day she was born, and the weeks after, I almost laugh.
The thoughts I had, the fears I had. If I could talk to every parent who has the shock of a baby born with Down Syndrome... I would say this:
"The shock wears off. When it does, treat the child just like you would any other. Discipline more. Praise more. Whatever you do: Do not handicap your child by not pushing him/her in learning how to do things. Oh, and beware: The child will cause you to love deeper than you ever dreamed."
My daughter is where she is because we push her, and we don't allow her to be catered to. We work through sensory issues, we work through motor skill issues, we are working through speech issues.... We WORK. We don't treat her differently, and we won't let you.
I once was given a piece of advice and it has stuck with me.
"I refuse for someone to see my child acting up in public and for that someone to look at her and say 'Oh it's because she has Down Syndrome.' No, it's because I didn't push her. I didn't discipline her. She is smart. She is capable."
That advice meant more to me than anything I have heard. I share it often and I use it to drive me in all areas concerning Lennon.
The Lord has given me strength when I didn't have it, courage to ask questions and seek advice or help when needed, and He has given me a desire to succeed as her parent. I didn't know it would be this hard at times, but I also didn't know it would be this "normal" at times.
I am grateful for the challenges...
because they draw me closer to Him.
I hope I always feel this way.