When "normal" is "special"

>> Thursday, August 09, 2007

About 6 1/2 years ago, I was in a hospital bed in Park Ridge, Illinois holding onto to Maren and drinking in her every baby smell and nuzzling my cheek against the fuzz on her little head. I held her and loved her, and tried to imagine what Down syndrome really meant in our lives.

I had visions of Life Goes On, and smiles came to my face. I remembered Corky working at the movie theater, and wondered if Maren would find a job like that. I remembered how hard it was for him when he couldn't drive like his girlfriend, who also had T21, and wondered what would be in her future.

I thought about Special Olympics, and I thought about Special Education. Those were good and happy things in my mind. And, still, they are. But, what I was lacking was a vision of the "non-special" things that Maren would do, as well. I lacked the concepts of everyday life with my Little Miss Magic that would make her life, our lives, more "normal," than different or "special."

Certainly, I never thought that at 6 years old, she'd be on ballet recital number three, or that she'd have a wardrobe and personal style that I would love to have, or that she'd fight with her friends over who got to be "Gabriella and who had to be Sharpay" in High School Musical re-enactments. I never thought that she'd like Pink and Barbie (goodness knows I detest both and swore that I'd never allow either in my house, LOL), and I never imagined that on her first day of kindergarten, she'd be embarrassed to hug me goodbye.

Yes, it's true, Maren has already decided hugging Mom and Dad isn't cool. She won't even blow kisses on school grounds. But, Coach Mike and Mrs. Whitley, and Sister Elaine --- now they get HUGE hugs -- apparently, it's cool to hug them; parents: not so much. UGH. How is that for typical? Jon, my husband, thought surely Maren would kiss him goodbye today. Heck, she even dropped his hand when they approached the door. She wants to be the big girl on campus. And, two days into Kindy, it certainly looks like she is to us.

So, now, I think back on those hours I held Maren and thought of the few "Special" things that I knew about, and realize that nothing is as a special as the normalcy of every day life with my Little Miss Magic. I really wish I would have known then what I know now, that life is life - with or without an extra chromosome. Certainly, there are some differences, but it is all in our focus. I will focus on the beauty and charm. And, here she is, with her handsome brother Jonah who began the third grade!


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