When my oldest daughter was born my name changed from Gary to Courtney’s Mom. It felt funny for about a year, almost like I lost myself and become someone else. I was no longer Gary the athlete, or Gary the banker, or my personal favorite Gary the girl, I was simply a mom. It was a year of adjustment and acknowledgement that yes I was a mother and it is the one job I had to learn how to do well.
15 months later when Alex was born my name changed again, this time is wasn’t Courtney and Alex’s mom, it was the mom with the baby with down syndrome. Talk about adjustments…that one took a while. In my mind I was being defined by a disability and to me that was closed minded and created artificial barriers between my family and those in our community.
Today, 19 years later (and it really happened after six weeks of knowing Alex), I boast about all my kids and feel they define me. Sure I work, play tennis, volunteer and participate in our community, but I am also a mother of three fabulous kids, one who just happens to have down syndrome. Life is way better than I could have ever imagined!
We live in a small community and this gives all three of my kids, but especially Alex the exposure needed to become local celebrities. Alex loves the attention and I LOVE being Alex’s Mom. I LOVE when people tell me how inspiring Alex is and follow her life. I LOVE that Alex is given the opportunity to participate in our community and I LOVE that in many ways she is the voice and face of the “I can” philosophy.
As a result Alex has been featured in the Aspen Times at least four times. The most recent was today, and I very happy with the article. The writer truly captured the magic of Alex, and recognized her for her accomplishments. He still has a problem believing my name is Gary, but that’s okay.
As an aside, I HATE it when people tell me I must be a great Mom, that God only gives us what we can handle and all that other stuff that is not true in my life. I often try to tell folks that it is all Alex, but really is about advocating and self-advocating. It is the journey and we call this our ten verbs:
· Expect the Best
· Practice Healthy Skepticism
· And the bonus verb…CELEBRATE
As another even bigger aside, I wrote a book to try and share what we learned about Alex and our way of supporting her. It is a great book, and has been well received. I really wish everyone with a younger child with down syndrome might think about buying the book.
Here are three recent reviews:
It is available on the sidebar of this blog – for $12.50 including shipping and handling. This is better than Amazon and the other on-line retailers who like to add a hefty shipping and handling charge. So think about it……
After all we need to buy plane tickets to South Korea. Thanks!