Emma is now 3 years old. She is every bit of a typical toddler and then some. Recently on a sunny afternoon, Emma and I were playing outside on her swing set. As we played, I watched her smile and laugh. I watched her blow dandelions in the air and smell flowers. I watched her climb, jump, and swing. And as I watched as she unashamedly embraced her little world with such childlike abandonment. In this moment, I realized something quite innocent.
She doesn’t know she has Down Syndrome.
In the evenings after her bath, I watch as she admires herself in the mirror. She smiles and she waves—she is smitten with her image. She watches her big sister apply makeup and nail polish. And she dances around in her Frozen Anna Princess dress.
During the weekdays I drop her off to attend preschool as thousands of other children her age are doing, and I watch her walk all by herself to her class. And I listen to her teacher give rave reports of how inclusive, loving, and caring she is with her classmates.
I watch her as we stroll through the mall and in stores—Emma consistently waves and smiles at everyone we pass. Some people ignore and look away, some stare and give me looks of pity…. because they know she has Down Syndrome.
But Emma keeps moving forward because she doesn’t know.
I’m not sure at what age Emma will realize she has Down Syndrome. When that time comes I’m not sure I’ll even know what to say, or how to explain it to her.
I really don’t know how to explain to her…
How will I respond when school becomes more difficult? Friends may become less as Emma goes from being “cute” to “different” in their eyes…When will that line be crossed?
I don’t know.
As a mother of a child with Down Syndrome, my heart’s cry is for the world to see Emma. To see the thousands of children she represents. To see past the exterior and into the interior. To really see the potential, the hopes, and the dreams. To see that this is the manifestation of what happens in a world when we decide to trust and not give into fear.
As I have been writing this post, I was fortunate to come across this beautiful ad featuring actress Olivia Wilde. Take a moment to watch, and join me in making an effort to see what lies inside the daughters, sons, and friends we have who have Down Syndrome.