Recently, we attended a Football and Cheese Ball party at a friend’s house. There were 5 kids there, all age 3 or younger. They tore the place up – in a good way – with their unbridled enthusiasm. They laughed and shouted and got into everything. The dads watched football, the moms talked.
It was a delightful fall afternoon and when we got home my cheeks hurt from all the smiling. Hubby reported he had a great conversation with the dads, and my daughter was sound asleep, exhausted from her play date.
Throughout it all, I couldn’t help but notice the ease among the group. The conversation flowed and the laughter was easy. And Down syndrome only came up briefly, despite the fact that all our kids sport that extra chromosome.
I am thankful to have this beautiful group of women to count as friends. I am thankful no one says anything about the milestones my daughter hasn’t met. I am thankful that they recognize and praise the things in her that I am so proud of – that she will eat anything, that she is curious, that she gives kisses. They see Rowenna.
Now for the soul-baring part of all this. It took until I sat down to write this entry to realize that - for the first time ever - I am thankful for Down syndrome.
I never would have met this group of women if my daughter hadn’t come with an extra chromosome. I never would have taken the time to put Rowenna in a playgroup, and I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have had such an intense need for the support of other moms. Certainly I would have made other momma friends, but this is different than I expected.
These women have become sisters and I can no longer imagine life without their kindness, laughter, and support. We rally around each other when our littles need medical attention and we drag each other out for lunch or dinner when someone is having a bad day.
But best of all - the thing for which I am most grateful – there’s no explaining between us. When someone’s child needs a sensory break, it just happens, no questions asked, no odd silences. When a mom breaks out the thickener so her child can have something to drink, there’s no explanation. When someone’s child signs something, we all know enough signs to be able to respond.
We get it. We get what it means to live this life, challenges and joys and all. We don’t explain, we don’t apologize, we don’t worry.
So today I am so very thankful to be surrounded by these beautiful mommas, and I am thankful for this lesson learned: to see that there are things to be grateful for when it comes to Down syndrome.
I am thankful I am not alone.