Today my post is going to be a little different. I feel very compelled to write about an experience that happened this morning. After all, writing has become an escape for me. I really don't care if people read what I have to say, like what I have to say, or comment about what I am writing about; it is a great way for me to escape from my life for a moment to just breathe! I enjoy it and it does make me happy that some people read what I write!!! So I felt like I needed to address this situation and the more I thought about it and prayed on it, this situation allowed me to put into practice some of the things that Lydia has taught me.
This morning I went to the store. I really had not much to do today, other than pack, and I was not looking forward to that. I thought that Lydia and I could enjoy a little shopping. I have NEVER been embarrassed to take her out and there has never been a fear of taking her out. As I entered the store, I put her in the cart. I heard "A baby like that does not even deserve to be born." I turned to find a lady walking towards me and I said "Excuse me!" I wanted to make sure that she in fact was talking to me. Lydia was sitting in the cart, chatting, smiling, and waving. She brushed past me and said "You would be better if she was never born."
I sat there, jaw on the ground and tears streaming from my eyes. I could not speak, I was completely stunned. No moment to come and talk, no time to say anything, just brushing past and judging my child and my family. I was frozen in that moment unsure what to do. I was trying to process how someone could be so mean. I picked Lydia up out of the cart and hugged her, sobbing and made my way to our car.
I held on to her and just sobbed. She hugged back so tightly as she knew something terrible had happened. She pulled away for a second and smiled at me. Then she pulled me closer. We danced the whole way home as I sobbed.
I came inside and texted my husband who immediately called me. He asked who this was. It was no other than a passerby who clearly was not tolerant of someone with Down Syndrome. I said that I realized it was just words, but they stung and still sting. I know that her opinion does not matter, and there will always be someone who is willing to put in their two cents, but wow that was hurtful. I said that I was sad because I did not even have a chance to educate this lady about who Lydia is. My heart actually aches for her.
I don't know this lady and I don't know her situation. But I pray for her. Maybe she experienced a huge loss, maybe she aborted a baby with Down Syndrome, maybe someone close to her was institutionalized because of DS, maybe she lost someone she cared for dearly who had DS, maybe it is just complete ignorance. I am not sure what the case is and I never will. But I pray for her. I pray that she would understand what a blessing a child/adult like Lydia is. Differences yes, but likenesses oh yeah! She is more alike than different.
As I have thought more and more about this situation, about these lessons I have been writing about, about Down Syndrome awareness month what a great situation. See, when I got home I shared a picture on my Facebook page of Lydia smiling away in her car seat. I wrote a small description about why awareness is so important. That picture has gotten shared a couple of times, but maybe it will be viewed by someone who it will affect. Someone who was unaware of DS prior to that picture. So maybe some good will come out of this.
Discrimination is a horrible thing and it will be something that Lydia will most likely encounter for the rest of her life. Believe me, I am trying my hardest to do what I can so she does not have to feel the wrath, but discrimination is present in all shapes and forms. However, it is important that I handle it in a manner that I am able to teach her to do the best thing. I need to always be a teacher to her.
Yes, thousands of my things went through my head of what I wanted to do, what I wish that I would have done, and what I hope would be done to her. However, I am so thankful that God quieted my tongue, He made my feet as heavy as cement, and gave me tears that I could just turn and walk away. Even at the age of 27 months my child is learning from me. I taught her that words can really hurt, but it is better to walk away and pray for that person than scream back.
The could of, would of, should of set in about educating this lady. However, I truly don't think that whatever I would have said would have made a difference. She did, however, look me right in the eye and she saw that hurt she caused. She also saw my daughter; her contagious smile and her wave that could melt even the coldest person's heart. Maybe this image will be enough to cause her to reevaluate herself and maybe change. But I am only accountable for my actions and not hers. Hard hard hard thing to understand in a circumstance like this. I do think that education with someone like her is not always the best thing. But just standing strong sends a much stronger message.
As tough as words are, as hurtful as it may be, we must behave in a way that is appropriate. If I called names back and I said hurtful things to her, I am no better than she is. Being uneducated about Down Syndrome is a horrible thing in my mind, but not being taught how to keep your mouth shut, or respect others is just a tragedy.
I am thankful my other girls were not there to hear that. They have been around to hear some pretty nasty things before. But each time we try to teach them how to be proud of their sister, no matter what. Just like they are suppose to be proud of themselves no matter what others say about them. Each time is a teaching moment.
In this moment, I was thankful for all of the lessons that Lydia has taught me. I know that she would have not acted much different than what I did. She does not like hurtful words and she would have cried too. I know that she would not have spouted anything back that was nasty or unkind. Lydia has taught me how to stand up and be strong, how to be courageous and compassionate. Lydia has taught me that it is better to take the higher road even when the other person is clearly wrong. I am learning some of these lessons and I am applying them...sometimes.
So, I hope you continue to create awareness about Down Syndrome. We have a long ways to go yet, but we are gaining a lot of ground. We have gone in the store many, many times and have never had this happen. Usually she gets all of the attention and I hear how cute she is. Usually everyone loves her to death and it is hard to make your way through the store. I am thankful for that. But I do think that we need to continue to educate. And not just about Down Syndrome, but anyone who happens to be different because God created them in a special way. She is not a mistake, she is not deformed, she is not less of a being, and she certainly deserves everything anyone else gets; after all she was created from the same loving God that created you and me. She is joy, she is laughter, she is the light of my world, she is life, she is love, and she is my delight!