What Down Syndrome can do for you
Six months ago today–half a year ago!–I became, in a mixed blessing, the father of a little girl with an extra chromosome who changed my life in a big way. If you’ve never read the story of the day Sarah was born, you totally should.
But tonight I’m not thinking about the day Sarah was born. I’m thinking about what it’s like now.
My whole world changed the day Sarah was born. Of course it did, because being a parent kind of does that. But it changed in ways that were much bigger than that, much more powerful, and wonderful, and amazing, and hard. It changed in ways that have built me up as much as they’ve broken me down.
I can remember feeling so lost for weeks after Sarah was born, and at some point, I picked myself up, dug out the package that the hospital had sent me home with, and decided not to give up hope. It’s 2011, I thought, how bad can it be?
The answer, as it turns out, is pretty damn good.
Before I was Sarah’s dad, I didn’t know too much about Down Syndrome. I had never even met someone with Down Syndrome. It wasn’t that I had a bad perspective on it–it was that I had no perspective. I didn’t know what I was supposed to expect.
After six months,here is what I’ve come to know:
1. Set your expectations as high as you want, but don’t set a time limit. Sarah will be able to do everything any other person can do–on her own schedule. Rushing and forcing things will lead to disappointment.
2. People say stupid shit. None of it is true.
3. It doesn’t take a special kind of person to raise a special kind of kid. Sure, it takes a little more patience. There’s a little more fear and uncertainty. But you don’t have to be some kind of miracle worker. You don’t have to come with credentials. All you need is patience and parenteral love.
4. Down Syndrome will change everything about your life. It will take what you knew about your life, turn it upside down, shake it a few times, rearrange its bits, and then hand you the leftovers. But it will change it in wonderful, beautiful ways and by the time you’ve reoriented yourself, you’re never going to want your old life back.
Happy six months, Sarah. Your daddies love you more than anything in the world. You are perfect, and we are so astounded that we get to call you ours.