28 years ago, there was a day of awesomeness. Because I was born, of course!
With the beautiful moments I’ve enjoyed of family and accomplishments these past few weeks, I can’t help but be particularly sentimental today.
I’ve been thinking, as I hold my growing belly, about my mother in those months and weeks and hours before she met me for the first time. And I can’t help but think about that mother-daughter bond I’ll soon experience myself.
I rocked a little boy back to sleep in the early hours of this morning and despite my exhaustion and his reluctance to fall back asleep, I loved it. It instantly became one of my favorite moments with the Little Man. Ever. There have been a lot of late-night/early-morning rockings in his baseball-and-puppy covered room. Some of them, in the very, very early days were filled with anger and tears — not toward my son, but toward the hand that had been dealt to him.
I remember staring at those sports scenes on his walls and feeling very, very bitter about the plans we had no business making for him and how we had just set ourselves up for disappointment.
18 months later, less than a month away from our second celebration of World Down Syndrome Day and our family’s attempt at bringing awareness to others, and Down Syndrome isn’t everything. It really isn’t anything. It’s brought us a greater awareness of the little things I think most parents take for granted; it’s brought us three Early Intervention therapists who have become family; it’s brought us an understanding, a peace, a love, that we are so blessed to experience.
18 months ago, my son’s slanted blue eyes brought me a level of sadness I thought was unconquerable. And here we are, just a mother and her son rocking side to side in the quiet darkness of his room. A little hand sliding up and down strands of my hair, a thumb-sucking noise on my shoulder. “Life is good, so beautifully good,” I thought over and over and over.
This past weekend, we went to my Homeland of Jersey. No armpit jokes, no exit questions; this is my home. This is the land of memories and happy times and most importantly, family. We had a lot of that great family time this weekend. We celebrated another blossoming belly and growing family with a baby shower for my cousin, who is one of the most radiant, beautiful mothers-to-be I’ve ever seen.
Zack tried to steal the show and I tried to capture all of these magical moments on camera — my aunt’s first entertainment stint since the passing of her husband last year, thinking about that absolutely insane circle of life and how it was never more evident than on a Saturday afternoon in Bayonne; the bonding between Zachary and his great aunt and great uncle, cousins and grandparents; the love that is found in precise decorating, uncontrollable laughter (and sometimes snorting) and the strength found in the loved ones in that room.
There were a lot of people in that room who had at some point, some of them very recently, been through something they didn’t think they’d survive. And yet there we all were, getting each other through another day, another year. Sharing secrets and plans and dreams and fears. A lot of delicious bread and food, walks to the park, photos of the Bayonne Bridge. And enough love to fill a million party favors or birthday cards.
There’s a sleeping boy upstairs, laundry whirring in the dryer and a cat purring next to me. It’s a simple life, but it’s one I wouldn’t exchange for anything. The weather is supposed to be mild and sunny today and that calls for some time outside with my guy to celebrate my day, but really to celebrate EVERY day.
My birthday wish is simple. I don’t want to forget this euphoria; this feeling of acknowledging that you have no control over life, but you have control over how you react to and how you handle what life offers you, good or bad, ugly or beautiful, expected or unexpected.
To forget that would be my ultimate failure. It would mean the hard lesson learned was for nothing. It would mean that I hadn’t learned to just accept life unconditionally, to live life unconditionally.