Friday, July 2, 2010

The Bonds of Motherhood

When I was 10 years old, I had a little yellow diary adorned with white flowers and a little gold lock with it's own tiny little key. I rarely ever wrote in it, because despite the cute gold lock, I was convinced that my parents or siblings would break into it (I mean, it wasn't exactly a dead bolt or anything...) and read my innermost thoughts. The few times I did write in it, the entries read something like this: "Jenny Birmingham broke up with me today. She's so mean." When I found this little diary as an adult and read that entry and entries like that, I was a little embarassed. I made my friendships sound as serious as some long term love affair. It is only now, years later, that I realize- without embarassment- that that is exactly what they are. At about the age of 24 or 25 I started making friends that I knew were going to last a lifetime, or close to it. Becoming a Mother took that to a whole new level. I never realized that when you have a baby, not only do you get the baby, but it comes with a lifetime membership to the club of Mom and the sympathy/ support of millions of other women who are mothers themselves. When my hubby was offered a job in Australia for an extended period of time, I knew that even with an infant in tow, I could move to another country. If nothing else, I'd be able to meet other Moms...by standing in line at a market, or walking in a park, or witnessing a complete meltdown tantrum and acknowledging it with a knowing look...all were recipes for an instant bond. Now, there's a new element thrown into the mix. Even though I am not defined by it, part of my new definition is: Mom to a child with special needs. With this, comes a new type of bonding. When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I spent a lot of time thinking about what he would be when he grew up, how we would raise him, what my hopes and dreams for him were. Of course I would say that I just wanted a healthy and happy baby, but secretly I wanted that plus more...maybe even rocket scientist more, or uber successful artist more. Today, I met a Mom of two, her youngest also with Down syndrome. I was telling her that one of the weird things I was thrown by when I got Elijah's diagnosis, was that he might not be tall like Charles and I. This was one of those weird things for me- it never occured to me when having children that they wouldn't take after some of these basic hereditary aspects. It was all a part of my process. But, today, this Mom leaned over to my sweet Elijah, gave him a loving stroke on his head and said to him, "None of that matters anymore, does it? We just want you to be happy and healthy and that really is all that matters." And it's true. You aren't challenged with the basic acceptance of things until there really is some quantum shift in life. I am forever changed by both of my kids, but especially so by Elijah. At only 10 weeks old, he is teaching me to slow down, to re-prioritize, to appreciate, and I mean really appreciate every day, and every new milestone in ways that I took for granted with Christian. I feel like I listen to people with new ears. And even see with new eyes.

I got to celebrate the bonds of Motherhood tonight with a new book club that I am part of. The night wasn't about being a Mom, and even though we did talk about our kids, it wasn't all about our kids. It was about a book, and food, and travel, and bonding over really, really, REALLY good cheese... And not once did I mention Down syndrome. The Down syndrome is a part of our lives, but it doesn't change as much as one might think...it doesn't change as much as I once thought. Elijah is just my baby boy, and he's healthy, which is all I could ask for. I'm just struck by how very grateful I am- for my babies, for my hubby, for my girlfriends...both old and new, Mommies and non-Mommies alike and for the unbelievable outpouring of love and support that I have been receiving lately. And I feel lucky...for it all...even for every last chromosome of it all...


I can't resist sharing some pictures from today, when Christian insisted on holding Elijah. Elijah wasn't exactly thrilled with Christian's holding technique, but Christian couldn't have been prouder (and neither could I).












And since I could never be so cruel as to mention really, really, REALLY good cheese and then not share...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

:)

Tara said...

Just found your blog. Congratulations on your new little man and welcome to the club of Down syndrome! I love what you wrote about Ds just being part of your lives. When Eon was born, I became a little Ds obsessed. :) But now, 17 months later, it really is just a part of our lives...usually a really good part!
The cheese looks yummy, btw! :)

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