Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Lesson #24: She’s just another leaf

on October 24, 2014

I have had very few negative thoughts regarding Down syndrome.  But I’ll let you in on a little secret: for several hours after she joined our family, I was terrified about family pictures.  Somehow, in my brain, I had decided that family and friends would no longer want to take pictures with us because they would not want to have a picture of Tessa hanging on their living room wall.

This is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous thought that I have ever had, bar none.

(Except for maybe the night in college that I thought a bottle of Jack Daniels and some Dixie Cups would make for a good night.  But that’s a whole other story.)

Since she arrived, Tessa has been just another leaf on the family tree.  She’s different, but we all are.  And not one person in our family has taken her as anything less than that.

Being a part of the community of families with children with Down syndrome, I hear a lot of stories.  Most are positive.  Sometimes, however, a mom comes looking for advice on how to deal with family/friends who are struggling to accept her child.  There are families who refuse to acknowledge the baby, or who won’t hold it, or those who treat the child differently through words and actions.  My heart really aches for those families.  It also overflows with love and gratitude for my own.

(Just to clarify – when I say “my family,” I am talking about the whole dang thing, from both John’s side and mine.)

When Tessa was born, I did a really poor job of allowing other people to process our new situation in their own way.  No grieving was allowed on my watch.  Whether I should have let go of that control is a question for a different day, but in reality, I don’t think anyone would have grieved anyway.  Because this is how life really is:

Tessa has four doting grandparents, who love her fiercely and in completely different ways.  They are teachers, snugglers, cheerleaders, and many times, the glue that keeps John and I running smoothly when life is exceptionally busy.

She has aunts and uncles who hold her and play with her as they would any other child.  She adores them.  If there is one thing that we have learned about Tessa’s personality, it’s that once she has attached herself to you, her eyes will look so deep into your eyes that you’ll swear she’s looking right at your soul.  All of her aunts and uncles get those looks.

Tessa’s cousins make her giggle. They poke and prod her, motivating her to get moving.  They give her kisses and pull her hair and sit on her and take her toys just like they would with any other child.

I could not ask for more.

(this pic was taken by my fabulous cousin, Jessica.  It’s blurry now for lots of reasons. 😉 )wdowiarz pic


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3 responses to “Lesson #24: She’s just another leaf

  1. Oneinamillion says:

    That photo with Tessa on her grandpa, (is it your dad?) lying on his chest, just gave me such a lump in my throat. Lovely.
    I sometimes forget that while I went through my own grieving process for my Peanut, my family and everyone who loved her also had to go through their own process. I sort of forgot that other people would have feelings about it! Very self centred of me, but then it was such a whirlwind I could barely take care of myself, let alone think about how everyone else was coping. I’m so glad your family are so accepting of Tessa.

    • Maggie says:

      That’s my father-in-law. 🙂

      I also forgot that other people would have feelings – and then, for a long time, I would get really irritated when people would express that they were struggling or unsure how to feel. I would probably still feel that way if people were telling me those kinds of things. Selfishly (maybe?), I still feel like I’m the only one who is allowed to feel anything negative.

      • Oneinamillion says:

        Yeah I know what you mean. I think I’m kind of the same. I just have to remind myself other people had expectations for my baby too.

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