Just about 19 ½ years ago I cried and cried. For six weeks I quietly shed tears of grief, tears of worry and even tears of pity for myself. I had no idea how to care for and raise a baby with down syndrome. I knew nothing and felt like I had failed my family, myself and my newborn baby daughter.
Two days ago I cried and cried. For 186 miles, the distance between the Denver airport and our home in rural Colorado, I quietly shed tears of pride, tears of happiness and even tears of pity for myself. I still have no idea how to care for and raise a baby with down syndrome, because once I realized it wasn’t about the down syndrome, it was about the baby, my fear disappeared.
I learned to listen to Alex and to advocate for her future. I have to often remind myself it is her future, not mine and not the systems. I still do not know what the next 19 ½ years of Alex’s life will look like, but I do not feel like I failed my family, myself and my now 19 ½ year old daughter.
|Alex and the Colorado athletes arrive at the Albany airport|
Two days ago I dropped off a poised, mature and responsible 19 ½ year old with down syndrome at the Denver airport. Alex traveled with five other Special Olympic athletes and a coach to Lake Placid, NY for a week of training in anticipation for the World Winter Games in South Korea in six weeks. This honor did not happen by itself, Alex’s hard work, as well as her local Special Olympic coaches made this happen.
I am not a part of this opportunity and thus my tears of pity. I was not invited to Lake Placid and am not allowed to travel to South Korea with Alex. Two days ago I had a revelation that rocked my world, just as a similar revelation did 19 1/2 years ago. I will always be Alex’s mom, but I am no longer her day to day companion and care-giver. She is in charge, not me.
|All athlete dinner, first night at Lake Placid|
For more information, please check out the fact sheet on the Special Olympics Team USA Website (home of these borrowed pictures)