We walked into the Post Office hand in hand. She was babbling and I was looking for the mail drop. I picked her up and she dropped the letters into the slot. We headed towards the door to leave, still hand in hand. We walked out and the rocks next to the flower garden caught Lydia's eyes. She liked the sound of the rustling leaves too. She sat down and I just smiled. As she was playing there was an older gentleman passing us on the sidewalk.
He looked over at Lydia and then he looked at me and said that babies with Down syndrome don't deserve to live. I looked at him and smiled. He went on to say more, but I scooped Lydia into my arms. Her cute short arms wrapped my neck and her little fingers gently rubbed my shoulders. I hugged her and politely walked to the car.
It never gets easier to hear the words that your child does not deserve to live. It never gets easier to defend why you chose life for your child. It never gets easier hearing the snares and snickers of other people. It doesn't get easier.
But what I learned today is that I have grown as Lydia's mom. As much as those words crushed my entire spirit, I know that she is not defined by them. Lydia gets her worth from God because that is who created her just as she is. He designed her perfectly. He intended her to have 47 Chromosomes, slanted eyes, stubby fingers, low tone, a smile that is contagious, more love than she knows what to do with, a heart of gold, a sassy attitude, and a caring heart. She is exactly who she was created to be and she has just as much right to live as any of us.
As I drove home the tears filled my eyes. I looked back at my miracle and just was filled with love and gratitude for being put on this journey. I have changed because of her. While I am sure I will most likely hear some mean comments, I know the truth. I know that because of her, because of those 47 Chromosomes I am a better person. I know that our family is better because of her. I also know that most times people say those malicious comments because they are uneducated.
I also know that those kind of people don't deserve more than a smile from me. I no longer have to defend my child or our decision for bringing her into this world. It was never a decision for us, she was our child that God placed in our family. Down syndrome, medical issues, and a sassy sassy attitude. That was all meant for our family. The only decision we made was to have a child and God knew the perfect child to place in our family.
Hearing such horrible comments will NEVER get easier. Those comments are etched in my mind. In weak moments I hear those comments and I wish they were never uttered. However, it makes me want to share Lydia's story more and more. There are so many good people. Most of the time I hear how cute she is, how they want to take her home, what a ham she is. There are far more good comments than bad ones. The bad ones, however, are just so terrible. How could you think that she does not deserve to live? She has more life in her than most people I know. She has done so much good in this world already and she is only three years old. And I don't think that any parent wants to feel as though they have to defend why their child should live, it really is just not a fun thing.
As I write I am amazed at what a difference it makes when we get our self worth from God and not from this world. When we truly understand what we have, nothing can tear us down. There is still a huge sting from the words, but it has not broken me down and it won't. It has allowed me to want to keep spreading Lydia's story, keep creating awareness and keep loving her. I love taking her out in public and I love seeing the joy she brings to just about anyone she meets.
I guess you have to take the bad with the good. And while I will never get use to hearing things like this about my daughter and I know that it will never get easier, I am OK with it. I know that it will not tear me down, I know that it does not define my daughter, I know that it will not break me anymore.
Please help educate about Down syndrome. While we have come so far in acceptance, there is still so much to do. We can make better communities by educating one person at a time. And I know it is in how I react too to these comments that will make a difference. I can smile and move on with my day knowing that, other than a few tears, it will not ruin me. I will pray for that gentleman and I will continue spreading the joy that Lydia brings to me each and every day. I am so blessed to have her!