October seems to be marked as the “Awareness” month and Down syndrome is on the list of observations. I would be remiss if I didn’t grab the opportunity to share my own journey with one of the loves of my life, who just happens to be extra special with his bonus chromosome. He totally rocks it.
I was twenty-seven years old when Bailey was born and we were stunned at the revelation that he had Down syndrome. But, as I look back at our journey, I realize that his diagnosis was nothing more than a gift. Sure, it has been a bumpy road filled with ignorance, brick walls, and an enormous amount of advocating, but it has all been worth it. The reason? We found inclusion.
You see, all Bailey wants is to be included. And while, there is a shit ton of work to still be done for full inclusion, we have made strides. Last night, my nephew and his wife, Tara, invited him to their softball game. He asked me if it would be okay if he played. Let me just say that I have the most amazing nephews. All of them love their cousin unconditionally. They encourage him and, most of all, they don’t treat him any different. However, there has always been a special bond between Bailey and his cousin, Caden.
So, he goes to the softball game with his glove in hand. Grinning from ear to ear as he leaves. Later in the evening, Tara sends me a video of Bailey hitting the ball and then another one of him scoring the only run of the night. Can I just say that I got a little teary? Seeing him being included, accepted, and valued made my heart expand. When he got home, his excitement was palpable.
Twenty-four years ago, I gave birth to a blessing with a little extra. Twenty-four years ago, I was fearful of his future and now, I am comfortable in the present. As I watch him thrive, I am reminded of all that we have accomplished and grateful to be on the ride of a lifetime. As he ventured to his room last night, he looked at me and said, “I love my life”. Me too, Bailey. Me too.