Seeing the beauty in being different. That’s what we all strive for -- others to be able to see the beauty in our differences. I see the beauty in my daughter Liliana, 18 months old, born with Down syndrome. She is every bit as amazing and unique as the next 18 month old without Down syndrome. That is what makes her perceived differences no different than the rest.
Liliana is playful and adventurous. Figuring out how to pull to stand just so she can see what big brother is doing on the couch. She is kind, caring, and considerate. At 18 months, Liliana can understand when a giant open-mouth kiss is warranted after Dad has had a long day. She is curious and ever wondering. Learning just what happens when a handful of spaghetti goes over the side of the highchair. Liliana gets bored and over-tired and all the things parents love when they themselves are bored or ready for bed. She is attentive and understanding. Showing sadness when mommy is not available to do the bedtime routine because I am off keeping our nation safe.
These experiences are nothing new to us. My husband and I were able to enjoy all of them with our son, who is now 4. We understand that Liliana will not, necessarily, follow in her brother’s footsteps. She will have a different set of difficulties and the way she accomplishes milestones may not follow the typical path. But the same could be true for any family with children without Down syndrome. Self-feeding may prove messier than expected. Potty training may take longer. Putting on a shoe might literally take an entire morning (I hope not!). As long as we cherish each experience and embrace the memories that come from them, then differences become a part of the backdrop and all you can really see is the beauty of the moment.
About the Author: Ariel Dehogues is the wife to an amazing stay-at-home Dad, Jonathan, mother to two rambunctious children, and an Analyst in the United States Air Force. She is also the secretary and volunteer coordinator for the Chesapeake Down Syndrome Parent Group.