When Hannah was born, and survived, we were eager to get connected with the local Down syndrome group. At the time, we lived in Charlotte, NC. Hannah was six weeks old when we attended our first DS meeting. It was a rather awkward meeting; there were just a handful of parents, none of whom knew each other.
The speaker that night was offering an introduction to Healing Touch. While I'm quite open to alternative health options, I wasn't all that excited about this. I was looking for emotional connections--not auras--to sustain us.
I vaguely recall the "energy" exercises we had to practice with the other parents. Fortunately I was paired up with a mom of twin girls, one of whom had Down syndrome. The twins were just 5 weeks older than Hannah. Mitzi (the mom), was just as "energetic" as I was. Not. We were not interested in "energy" at all (exhausted new moms?). But fortunately, Mitzi and I hit it off, and that was the beginning of The Hidden Surprise. Who knew that this Club-That-Nobody-Asked-To-Be-In was filled with fabulous people?
Sometimes when you join a new group (book club, PTA board, church, neighborhood bunko clique), it can be a bit unnerving. You don't know what you're in for. Who's got the power? Who wants the power? Who is the most fun? Who are you going to click with?
Well, when you meet another parent of a child with Down syndrome, it's like you already know them. It's like we're automatically family. We share that extra chromosome magic, and that chromosome challenge. I love that moment when I meet someone new, and I just know that they share the DS love too.
The other day, Hannah and I were at the gym. I was going to show her a new leg extension machine to try out. As we weaved through the sweaty, pumped-up, testosterone-filled gym attendees, there was a good looking man about 26 years old. As I passed him, he said hi. And then he said hello to Hannah. I thought that was exceptionally friendly of him, especially since English wasn't his first language.
I guided Hannah to the machine and showed her how to adjust it for her height, while she adjusted the weight she would lift. As she was settling in the seat, the man peeked around his machine asked me how old Hannah was.
DING DING DING!!!
I cannot think of any handsome young muscly man who would actually ask such a question unless he was on the lookout for a person with Down syndrome. His name was Adrian. And he has a five year old boy with Down syndrome. Adrian works at a local Mexican restaurant, and has two younger daughters as well. A beautiful family--I got to see pictures! And now I'll get to see them in person on Saturday when we have our local Step Up for Down Syndrome 5K and Walk. I love the instant camaraderie.
Our family moves a fair amount (14 times since James and I have been together). When Hannah joined our family she made it SO easy to meet people. When we move, I would just email the local DS group and ask a few questions and I'd have people ready to help us navigate our way into a new community.
When we move, I rarely miss the location--I miss the friends I've made--they are a part of my family. I love my DS Moms (and Dads). We connect like sorority sisters (even though I never was in a sorority). Our yearnings and prayers, our worries and frustrations, our joys and treasures, our concerns and despair, our strength and anxieties, our hopes and our pride. We may hide them from most people, but we share them with each other without hesitation.
This is a hidden gift that we are given when a child is born with Down syndrome.
Post a Comment