When People See My Daughter With Down Syndrome and Ask 'How Do You Do It?'

It’s no secret that my daughter was born with an extra chromosome. A new friend recently asked me about Lila after she met her, “Does your daughter have Down syndrome?”

I said, “yes,” then I told her all about Lila and how we learned her diagnosis after birth.

“I don’t know how you do it, I don’t know if I could,”she replied. I just smiled at her. That certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve heard that. It won’t be the last.

I was pumping gas at the gas station the other day. A little boy from Lila’s preschool came running up to the van. “I want to see Lila,” he said. I opened the door and he climbed in. He gave her a big hug and started exploring our van. “Bye Lila, see you tomorrow,” he said as he went back to his mom’s truck.

“Bye, Mikey,” she smiled.

Walking through Walmart, we usually hear at least one or two people say, “Hey, Lila!” Sometimes I ask her, “Who was that?” She will spout off their name and grin.

Everywhere we go, someone knows her. It is a requirement that she hug everyone in class once she starts giving out hugs. If you tell her your name, she will not forget it. At a restaurant the other day, she went up to a table full of elderly people. She went around the table hugging each one and telling them she loved them. Their reactions were priceless.

People are drawn to her. I think they see how she loves. And oh, how she loves. She doesn’t judge people by color or intelligence; she loves unconditionally. She is forgiving. She is kind (usually). When she hugs you, you feel it all the way to your heart. What kind of world would we be living in if we didn’t have people like her?

She is a teacher. Every day, I watch her teach this community, this world, what love really is. She has given us the gift of sight.

Now I see things I would have never seen before. I see smaller things and their importance. I see how unimportant some things are, like society’s standard of acceptance and beauty. I see the importance of loving everyone. I see the importance of teaching others to have compassion. I see the importance of stopping to smell the roses.

There are days when I am exhausted from chasing that tiny tornado around. She can destroy a room in a heartbeat. She delights in sticking her tongue out at people and throwing her shoes out of the van as I’m closing the door.

When someone asks me how I do it… it isn’t really a choice. I didn’t choose her, she was chosen for me. Thank goodness. My whole world is better because she’s in it. She is a world-changer in the best possible way.

I wouldn’t trade this gift, and all the extra it brings. I wouldn’t trade this gift of Lila for anything.


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