A Catch-22

>> Friday, April 03, 2009

So, I have to be brutally honest. When Maren was born with Trisomy 21, a little part of me was happy about it ~~ selfishly happy.

I've never wanted an empty nest. I like close-knit families and in modern society, I'm terrified that my kids will live thousands of miles away. So, if Maren had T21, I reasoned, I would always have one of my kids at home. Right?

The irony of it all...she's my most independent child. Tonight, she is doing a "Pink Party Lock-In" and her dance studio. Approximately 100 girls from 1st through 8th grade are eating pizza, guzzling soda, gorging on snacks, dancing pop diva routines, and staying up until the wee hours of the morning. You can see the soda behind Maren and her friend Maddy ;-).

I cried when I dropped her off; she couldn't push me out the door fast enough. So, though I am certain we'll always live in the same town and that she will always need additional supports in her life, she's spirited and will not want to live with me forever. I guess that is a good thing, right? I shouldn't complain when I know her independence is a huge asset for her development -- but I'm not ready. I really thought she'd be a "mommy's girl." I wanted her to be dependent, in my own selfish way.

But, then I have to realize that we have been living in a town that embraces Maren and has included her in everything without question. She's been part of friendship circles, dance recitals, and soccer games, even sleepovers. Our community has nourished her and given her a tremendous foundation for learning to be a part of the community. She's never been excluded because of her extra chromosome (in fact -- the one time was in spite of it -- the ringleader could care less Maren has T21 - her sister does as well, bahhh!). So Maren's never had a reason to think there is anything she can't do.

Her friends are completely aware that Maren has T21. They simply haven't cared, to this point. They know that sometimes she is hard to understand, but there is always one child who can figure out every word she is saying. When one kid gets snotty, Maren gets snotty back -- and other kids back her up ;-). When she is treated poorly, it's in the catty way all first grade girls can treat other 1st grade girls.

And, I know that I can leave her because the other mothers or chaperones will keep better watch on her than I ever would! Her college-student dance teacher from last year, Anna, might be told to "buzz off" before the night is through if she tries to play with Maren too much ;-). For that, I will always adore this town and the people we are surrounded by. I know we have a 1 in million community for her. And, even if we move next year (I doubt we will, but certainly in the next few years), I know that she has an amazing start in life.

So, tonight, I walked her into the overnight lock-in, scared of course -- because it is a madhouse -- terrified that she might not see anyone she knows, scared that she may not be able to clearly communicate with a new group, worried that she'll be excluded, and sad that she is growing up.

But, we walked in and her friend Maddy found her right away, and after she dropped her sleeping bag off and walked into the large play room, I heard a chorus of voices calling, "Maren -- Maren's here -- Maren come over here -- Sit by me Maren." And, she pushed me out the door.

So now, to keep my full-nest as I grow old, I might just have to hope Jonah and Archie are "mama's boys." Maybe I need to start telling them "Foosball's for da devil" and that their daddy died of dehydration. It worked for Kathy Bates in Waterboy. Think it will work for me? Hmm... Where is that medulla oblongata?


Michelle 11:38 AM  

it sounds like you're living in a wonderful community! You don't find that everywhere, so you're certainly blessed! How great that she had such a wonderful time at the lock in too!

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