I’m not an emotional person. I usually bury my feelings deep down and never talk about them. Having a boy with Down syndrome (plus a supportive wife, and two daughters) has forced me to be more in touch with my feelings. As you might guess, I’m not a complainer either. I take life as it comes to me and make it work. Even through the struggles. I believe everything happens for a reason, and nothing is left up to chance. With that being said, there’s a great deal of emotion and feelings in this post. I don’t talk about it much, so this is a way for me to vent. Writing is therapy. I write because I most likely won’t talk about it any other way.
The inspiration for this post comes from an occurrence that happened in a church service yesterday. Prayer requests were being spoken and prayed for at the start of the service. One request was for a couple that just found out their unborn child will probably have Down syndrome. Of course my ears went up and I became unsettled that this was even being brought up. I leaned over and told my wife “let’s go, I’m done, I’m not doing this anymore.” Thankfully, she quickly reeled me in and reminded me where we were when we first found out Judah would probably be born with Down syndrome.
There are many things that go on in the minds of parents just finding out their kid will have special needs. I went through my share that’s for sure. I think to assume one thing or another doesn’t really do anyone justice. There’s always a ton of assuming by outsiders, family, and friends. We all went through different emotions and probably continue to have various ideas and beliefs about the reasons why we were given a “special” kid.
When Judah was first born I read many articles and books that mentioned taking some time to grieve over the child I “didn’t” have. That may work for some people, but it never sat well with me. Judah IS the child I was given. There isn’t one I “didn’t” have. So most of the emotions I had to deal with came from the questioning of “what do we do now?” and “where do we go from here?” I didn’t grieve. But I did become very angry. I was mad at myself for the way I responded during the pregnancy. I was mad at others for the way they responded. I was mad at God for throwing another wrench in my system of life. I also took things too personal and was extremely defensive at first. My son is now six years old and I earned a college education along the way. I’ve grown in so many ways since he was born. There have been many challenges and twice as many blessings. I’m a different person now. I’ve changed a lot. I believe I’ve changed for the better.
Down syndrome is a mystery. Sure, there are many things about Down syndrome that we know, but many that we cannot explain. I can’t explain why many people with Down syndrome are full of joy and have so much love to give. I can’t explain why many people with Down syndrome seem to lack the negative aspects the rest of us have to fight in life such as prejudice and hate. I can’t explain why many people with Down syndrome stay child like their entire life. I can explain how fortunate I am to have been blessed with a son who has Down syndrome. I can explain how much joy he has brought to the lives of most people he comes in contact with, especially my family and I.
Here are the facts: my life has been profoundly changed because I was given a child with Down syndrome. It changed my perspective on faith and life completely. I am a better person because of my son. I have more love and joy to give to the world because I see life a totally different way now. I get to teach kids with Down syndrome and others with special needs. That alone makes waking up every morning an exciting adventure. They’re just fun people to be around.
I can’t explain God’s plans or fully understand what His best interests are. But I can say that it has been much better and more fulfilling than my own, even when we have to endure struggles. Drastic events and changes had to be set in motion for me to find the right path in life. I’m thankful for the path I’ve found and the life I’ve been given. I don’t know what lay in store for my family and I but I strive to take full advantage of each day that I’m given.
Too often people try to explain situations and God as if they’ve got the final and absolute answers for many of life’s greatest mysteries. I say to those people... stop... cut it out. You’re just a person like the rest of us. You haven’t been given magical God powers and you can’t see into the future or know what’s best for your own life, let alone mine. Unless you’re giving unbiased support and encouragement, keep your mouth shut. Spend your time in a more worthy manner such as giving yourself to others instead of taking. Spend your time lending an ear to listen instead of wagging your tongue with know it all answers.