|Making silly faces!|
For you other mothers out there, it's a little like when you were pregnant for the first time. All of a sudden you see expectant mothers everywhere you go. You try to figure out how far along they are. You notice if they have other children. You take note of what they are wearing and how they are walking. It's a learning experience.
A couple of months ago Matt and I took Luke to South Carolina for a week. During that week, we observed two different families traveling with children with autism. I was locked into these families. I know staring is not socially acceptable, so I tried to be cautious, but it was so amazing to watch. I had the opportunity to tell one of the mothers how wonderful she was. Her son must have been around 12 years old and she parented him beautifully. She let him have his space, intervened when necessary and showed him love every step of the way.
My eyes have been opened. In the past, I never would have seen that mother for who she was, or her son for who he was. I would have looked away.
It is embarrassing and humbling to become aware of your own ignorance. How often do we only interact with people who are easy to talk to? Easy to understand? Easy to accept?
A little child shall lead them.
Luke has already made me a better person and he is only 5 1/2 months old. It's hard to remember who I was before his birth.
Before Luke entered our lives, I turned away. Not because I didn't care, but because I didn't know how to interact with someone who was ... disabled ... handicapped ... had special needs... I'm not sure what word to use. I know now how to use person first language, but beyond that I still struggle with how to talk about disabilities. I also struggle with the term "special" because I think all people are special, not just ones with different abilities. And yet ... Luke is special, and he will have different needs throughout his life. It may sound strange, but I am still not entirely comfortable around people with different abilities, but now I make an effort. I try. I put myself out there, and dare to make a mistake.
"You'll grow into it." That was the advice from a mother who has raised a daughter with an extra chromosome for over 20 years. She reassured me that there is time to figure everything out, or at least some of it. I can't imagine we'll ever have it all figured out.
Since Luke's birth, I have become aware.
Aware of every single person around me.
Aware that most TV shows, commercials, books and magazines do not have images of people with different abilities.
Aware that at some point the other shoe is going to drop.
Aware of how people look at Luke.
Aware of conversations that deal with marriage, college, moving out ...
Aware that I am now a "press 2 for pediatric specialty" instead of a "press 1 for pediatrics."
Aware of every interaction I have with Luke, and wonder if I'm doing enough.
Aware of pregnant mothers, and how unaware they are.
Aware that I have most likely had interactions with people who have terminated a pregnancy due to Down syndrome or another prenatal diagnosis.
Aware that we all have disabilities, some are just more obvious than others.
Aware that our family has gotten closer because of Luke.
Awareness is a single step, and one that will most likely seem small in a few years. But for right now, it's a big one. I wish I could say I knew all of this before Luke entered our lives, but I didn't.
My eyes are opened and I will never go back.