How This Mom Is Teaching Kids to Find Beauty in Her Daughter's Differences
Kerry Lynch would much rather you ask questions than point and stare or make an obvious attempt not to stare. Her 2-year-old daughter, Mary Cate, was born with a rare genetic disorder called Apert Syndrome, which gives her facial and cranial abnormalities and developmental delays. Basically, she looks a bit different. But really, Mary Cate is an everyday 2-year-old. Her mom wants others to see that.
So Lynch and Mary Cate prepared a presentation and began visiting schools in the Chicago area to teach kids how to understand people’s differences. In the last year, the pair has visited nearly 30 schools.
“I figured before she gets to an age where she’ll have to answer all these questions in school, let’s show the kids, ‘This is who she is,’” Lynch told The Mighty. “If I can make her life even a little bit easier, I’m going to do it.”
When Mary Cate was born, her mom, dad, and doctors faced the unknown. Only one in 65,000 to 88,000 newborns are born with the condition, according to Genetics Home Reference.
“We were terrified,” Lynch recalled. But even amidst the fear, crying and Googling of symptoms, one moment sticks out in her head — the day she and her husband brought Mary Cate home.
“It was a few days before Christmas,” Lynch told The Mighty. “When we pulled in, we saw that someone had decorated our house for us.”
In the last two years, Lynch says she remembers the kindness more than the uncomfortable moments that come when your child looks different than other kids. She recalls neighbors and friends who make dinners or send support when Mary Cate has yet another surgery in a children’s hospital in Texas. She remembers a woman who walked up to her, hugged her and said, ‘God bless you.’ She is in awe of the 11,000 people who like the Facebook page she has for Mary Cate and regularly visit her website. This is why Lynch visits school — so more kind moments pop up for her daughter — and for all kids with disabilities.
“I want to encourage kids to ask questions,” Lynch told The Mighty. “If I can make one person see differences in a different light — that’s what I want.”