I Believe My Son With Down Syndrome Is Exactly Who He Is Meant to Be
When River was diagnosed with Down syndrome, I remember feeling like I needed to mourn the life I thought he was meant to have. I imagined my child’s days in school, university, a career, marriage and a family of his own. That’s pretty standard for how a life is meant to go, right?
A friend visited and she said, “No, you are mourning the life you think he was meant to have, the life you wanted him to have. He is already living the life he was meant to have.”
And she was so right. River is absolutely living the life he was intended to have. In fact, he is taking his whole family on the journey we were meant to be on and I can’t imagine living any other way.
I wonder how many parents have children who don’t follow the path they imagined, without disability playing any part at all? There are so many other factors in life that can shape the way a person’s life spans out. Society has shaped what is considered a worthy, successful and happy life. Who gives anybody else the right to decide whether a person can be happy being who they are, or living the life they have? It’s really sad that being “different” has become so frowned upon.
There are many people who are led on a different journey and live an alternative lifestyle to what is considered mainstream. Many people live very different lives to what their parents had imagined before they were even born, because of illness, sexual orientation, career choices or many other things. There are people who end up involved with drug abuse or crime. Pretty sure no parents envision their child spending their life behind bars. Nobody has a crystal ball to the future.
My point is, having a disability is not a reason to think a person’s life isn’t what it was meant to be. It is not a reason to think your child can’t live a wonderful life — as hard as it might be to picture at first. River has taught us so much and he lives a wonderful life; he is happy and thriving. He may not be living the life I pictured when I was carrying him, but I believe he is living the life he was meant to have. I know he is living a life that will teach us, and maybe other people, about love, acceptance and diversity.
So he might never get a university degree, get married or have an impressive career (notice I say might), but in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? I believe River has many doors open for him and 2017 is a great year for people who have Down syndrome. I know in my heart everything is going to be OK; that our journey is going to be incredible.
So I am going to end with one of my favorite quotes. Cheesy? Maybe. Do I care? Not even a tiny bit. This is what I want for my children, both of them. And whatever path they choose to take is totally fine with me.
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon
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Thinkstock photo by: Halfpoint