Sunday, October 3, 2010

On Purpose

I signed on many months ago, while I was still pregnant with Elijah, to be part of a book. I chose to be photographed for the book, and to put a face to the many expectant Mothers who find out that the baby they are carrying has Down syndrome.  I decided to put it all out there- the fear, the nerves, the confusion...the Love, because I believe that these things will be important and sentimental keepsakes for my boys.  Keepsakes that say that their Mother is not perfect or without conflict, but show that I Loved them. In the face of fear, I Loved Elijah.

The book was released last month and last night was the Los Angeles book release party for this book, called, "I'm Down With You".  It was a lovely, simple affair held at a furniture design studio in LA, where people involved in the making of the book gathered to celebrate.  Most importantly, it was the place where the models for the book were on hand to sign copies and get their moment of glory.  I was quite out-of-place as a model in this book, because the subjects were all people-babies, children, teens and adults- with Down syndrome. We took a group photo at the party and then everyone commenced on having their books signed.  The models were so excited to sign books and to be a celebrity for the evening.  It was so heart warming that you saw nothing but ear to ear smiles or eyes brimming with tears and pride that evening.  I had both.  I did not bring Elijah with me, as it was really too late for him to be out and about, but brought a picture to show off my handsome little man to those who had only met me (including the photographer) while I was pregnant.  I was happy to share the news of his birth, his sweet nature and the peace that I have felt since he was delivered to our family.  I also got to see one of my favorites from the photo shoot day.  Her name is Katelyn and I fell in love with her during the shoot.  She was nearly 7 at the time of the shoot and just as adorable as could be.  She has a zest for life, an infectious smile and is bright and smart.  I remember feeling...well, relieved, really. I was relieved because she was almost everything you would ever want your child to be.  Maybe she won't become an astronaut or a ballerina, but I have no doubt that she'll "become" something very important to a lot of people.  In fact, she doesn't need to become it, she already is.  She is an advocate for Love, for Joy, and a remover of fear- just by Being.  I have thought so many times about Katelyn and her Mom, Kelly.  Kelly made an equally important impression on me. She has a radiant smile (no wonder Katelyn has the same) and just a very serene, confident air about her.  There are no excuses being made, no chip on her shoulder... just Grace. It was less about what she said, though I clung to every word, but more about how she acted.  She acted like she was Fine.  In fact, better than Fine. Happy.  So, I knew I would be fine too. Probably even Happy. And I am.

I think we have a tendency to define ourselves by our careers and our "acts".  When we talk about what our Purpose in life is, it seems people automatically talk about what their dreams for their careers they will make an impact on society.  Sometimes I think those things play into a person's Purpose, but sometimes they have nothing at all to do with it...  I think that my Purpose has to do with me being a light through which people can see God's Love.  I've spent my life doing things I love for work- things that won't go down in history books, but will live on in the hearts of people. I don't think these things, while they are worthwhile, are my Purpose.  But they are part of the tapestry of events in life that mold me into achieving my Purpose.  And I know that Katelyn and my little Elijah have a Purpose too. Their Purpose is just as valid as the winners of the Nobel Peace prize. It may or may not go down in history, but is important none-the-less.

I still have fears...many fears about what Elijah's life in the future will be.  I've heard people say that their child (aged 8-20) can't yet read or write, and it stings.  My heart drops when I hear this because my experience with reading and writing has been magical.  Books create a world that I might never get to see first hand, invent characters that are so real and relatable that you think they truly exist, and transport you from an ordinary day into a world of adventure.  Writing unlocks the hesitations of my mind.  I can write, like today, not even fully aware of what I'm feeling, but here it is. If I could only write my communicative responses-I would be wittier, smarter, and always have the perfect comeback. And I'd never overreact. I'd be able to keep my cool at all times.  Reading and writing is a gift and I hope that it's a gift Elijah gets to enjoy.  Meanwhile I will do everything I can to help inspire a passion for books and writing.  Although, the models for the "I'm Down With You" book mostly just signed their names, my favorite little model, Katelyn, signed what is truly most important:

I am Happy.

Thank you Katelyn. 


This is the photo that Jagatjoti S. Khalsa, the photographer & inspired author of this book, chose.  "I'm Down With You" is available on Amazon or you can click here to order a copy.  It is a beautiful coffee table book that brings new light and understanding to people with Down syndrome- by capturing their true spirit through photography.


Anonymous said...

Love your post! It brought tears to my eyes, and I just so love that picture of you. I wish I had one taken when I was pregnant. I'm so glad we met, and that I have another comrade in this journey! Suzanne

Mama Marchand said...

The photo of you and Elijah is beautiful. :) Your book is next on my list now!

Beth said...

Really beautifully put. I enjoyed this post very much. Thank you for sharing.

Cheryl D. said...

Hi fellow Spring Chicken! What a beautiful picture of you!

Thanks for the kind comment on my blog. We've had a fabulous experience with behavior therapy. I hope it works for your beautiful boy too!

Also, I'm a Los Angeles girl also! I used to live in Santa Monica, then Westwood. Now I live in the Valley (Woodland Hills).

Look forward to getting to know you better over the next two weeks.

Hailey Murray said...

Jennifer, that picture is beautiful. So much hope, so much love, but still a quiet moment of wondering what is to come... knowing you now, I feel proud of you and your family for moving forward with open hearts and open arms. And what a reward! Your beautiful #2 son... and everything happened exactly as it should have. Love you, Charles, Christian and Eli very much.

Karen said...

Your words are so beautiful and inspire me and I feel blessed to know you...

Ginny Marie said...

I'm so excited to be able to read more of your writing, and I wouldn't have found your blog before being placed in the Spring Chickens! Your boys are both just precious!

Amanda Broadfoot said...

Hi, Jen!

And thanks SO MUCH for stopping by my blog ... I really look forward to reading more and more and getting to know you and "your boys" -- all of whom are GORGEOUS :-)

I can tell our Spring Chickens are a remarkable group already, and we're going to have a VERY good time.

All the best,


Tabitha the KnittingJourneyman said...

This is such an incredible and beautiful post--and an incredible and beautiful woman and family. :)

Laura said...


P said...

Jen, our kids can read. Terry Brown was standing next to you and Christines husband met her. She was at the OC book signing and Sat too--she's the answer.

She does recommend my baby can read stuff for our 18 m to three yr crowd and her methods and therapy (in OC!?!!) start at three yrs. Amazing results and inspires lots of verbal success too. She's teaching reading and writing.

Your idol asked my four and a half year old for a playdate -- she ROCKS. She's exceptional but I'm gonna say an example not an exception.

I only cried in the hospital once, when I was not sure Benji would read. He will. We will get right paced books on tape for him to use if we have to or whatever.

This boy of mine kisses your face EVERY DAY since Saturday. I'm Down with You has huge smiling faces--it will always be his favorite book. This I know.

MommyToTwoBoys said...

This post is absolutely amazing. Mark it in your all time best.

You just made my day in so many ways. You reminded me to be humble, thankful, happy, and understanding all at once. What a beautiful post.

Ferg_e said...

JEN! This is an amazing post! I love your words about purpose. I spent many many years focused on career and material success and I have to say I was never ever as happy as I have been since through Bradyn I found my purpose of raising awareness about Epilepsy and other social causes.

Mel ~ said...

I LOVE this post and in perusing your blog (I just couldn't stop reading) I was moved to tears with your stand alone pages, especially Elijia's story. (((hugs)))) I was wishing I could sail around the blogosphere and hug you and your beautiful family! You have so much grace and love. <3
I look forward to reading more of your work through the Spring Chicks Tribe!

Jen Currier said...

Just wanted to say how grateful and humbled I am by all of your comments! To old and new friends alike, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the support and love you express!

Lynn said...

What a gorgeous photo of you! I love reading Elijah's story. I think all special needs moms have that story of the initial discovery. I had my amnio around the same time of the year that you did (only in 2003) and found out the results the day before Thanksgiving. Mine was "good" news (that's the way it goes with autism) and reading your story really brought me back in time.

You have a beautiful family and I'm so glad to get to know you through our "tribe"!

Tara said...

Hi, I'm a fellow Spring Chicken! How wonderful that you were able to be a part of such an important book. And I love that picture of you :)

JennieB said...

This is a gorgeous photo. There is so much I love about your post, and as the mother of a child with autism I really relate to your words about reading and writing.

But Katelyn's signature is what brought tears to my eyes. Just perfect.

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