When my youngest daughter was born with Down syndrome, all I knew were stereotypes. I wrongly assumed our life, and my daughter’s life, would be defined by limitations. I was wrong. What defines our life is love.
I won’t say parenting a child with Down syndrome is easy because parenting is not easy, and parenting a child with a disability does present extra challenges. But even though there are hard days and hard moments and hard hours, those do not define our lives. What really matters — what is most important — is love.
There are beautiful and perfect moments. There is the good, there is the joy, there is the pride we feel for our kids. There is the excitement of even their smallest accomplishments. And always, always the unending love.
If you ever see a child with Down syndrome and think you could never do it, yes, yes you could do it. Because of love.
And I wish people could see what I see, this life we live.
I wish people could see we take family vacations, we grill chicken in the backyard, we eat dessert and we celebrate birthdays. I wish people could see the love we live with.
And I hope next time you see a parent of a child with Down syndrome, rather than thinking of how hard you imagine it could be, you think about what matters most. I hope you see the love. I hope you think of these beautiful moments shared by our Mighty parents:
“Every member feels that fierce love for our Hudson.” – Dionna M.
“[My son] and I enjoying life!” — Ingrid M.
“This was a few weeks back. My wife was working so my co-pilot and I took a trip to a Jeep show. He gets to ride in the passenger seat in the Jeep, since I can turn off the airbag, and he almost always falls asleep. He also instantly wakes up when I turn the engine off.” — Kevin P.
“This is right before his appointment with his respiratory specialist. Every week it’s multiple doctors appointments and physical therapists. No matter what challenges he is facing that day, this is the smile I get from him. He’s a strong little man and in return he’s made me a stronger person.” — Amanda S.
“My 26-year-old son with his niece… just love!” — Denise B.
“This is my son Johnny with his siblings. Johnny has blessed each and every member of our family and made me a better person. Each child I am blessed to have has had their share of ups and downs, but they all bring more joy and love every day!” — Emily M.
“Miley, 9, showing her goat, Rita, at the fair for the 4H goat show. She worked all summer getting her ready. Her hard work paid off and she got a blue ribbon and a callback for showmanship.” — Missy A.
“Haven’t met a person yet who can have our sweet Evan smile this smile at them and not smile back with everything they have. He is changing the world one smile at a time and our lives are immeasurably better with him in them!” — Blair P.
“So much love for this little [girl]. We’ve had some challenges but she’s taught me more about life in her short seven years than I could ever teach her! Hope is amazing” — Stacy R.
“I feel like this picture shows the love between Izzie and one of her older brothers, Grady. Both of her brothers are a great help to my husband and I when it comes to Izzie, but not because we make them or even ask them. They just step in and do what they can because they love their sissy so much!” — Tiffany J.
“My favorite kids.” — Kimberli P.
“This is our Samuel. He is such a joy to our family and all who know him! He truly lives life to the fullest and is a daily example of how life should be. Can’t imagine life without him! Thankful God chose us for his parents.” — Jenny E.
“This photo is of me and my daughter, Heather, at Disney World early this year. She is truly the heart of our family. She turns 40 in October. We will be celebrating her birthday at Disney this January. I absolutely love traveling with her!” — Suanne J.
“My sweet Harlan. His due date was World Down Syndrome Day but he arrived a month and a half early. It was suspected shortly after his birth that he had Downs Syndrome and later confirmed through genetic testing. We wouldn’t change him for the world. He is loved beyond measure.” — Crystal E.
“My son, Cree, who will be 3 in less than two weeks with his big sister who will be 7 the week after. I think this shows their overwhelming love for one another. He is the love of our lives.” — Angel W.
“Our oldest, Cori, and our youngest, London. These two have such a love/hate relationship like any typical toddler sibling duo would, but at the end of the day, London looks up to her big sissy and always needs to give her a kiss good night. Cori has so much bravery, love and strength. I’m so thankful she shares it with us all. She is truly the glue in our family!” — Jamie D.
“Love.” — Caroline H.
“This is Owen. He is 7 and loves baseball, especially the St. Louis Cardinals. He loves playing ball with his brothers, dancing and playing in the backyard.” — Christy L.
“Samuel’s turning 12 this year. All a wonderful journey. He brings a smile and a hug to everyone he meets.” — Barry L.
“My baby sister, Helen. She was the love of my life, I miss her sweet smiling face, she passed away last year at the age of 59, she is now God’s angel” — Julie H.
“Vincent brings us so much joy. He smiles at me until I smile back.” — Susan F.
“Loves of my life!” — Lauren G.
“Our son, who was adopted from Ethiopia, is very much loved by his sisters (and his whole family)!” — Anna V
“Our beautiful Maria.” — Lorena C.
“No words necessary for this picture.” — Jennifer H.
“The love my parents and son have for each other!” — Lori G
“Adelyn Paige. She has brought us so much joy since the very first ultrasound! We wouldn’t change her for the world.” — Katie S.
“Hiking with cousins and auntie and brother and mom. Family hiking in Colorado.” — Rebekah L.
“Will helped his dad and big brother build this Lego rocket over the summer! They had a great time together.” — Judi H.
“This is my daughter, Bre. She is 9 years old, will be 10 in November.” — Candis H.
“Our sweet Hannah has brought blessings for our family! She is adorable.” — Dayana A.
“My sister and niece with my son, Finnegan, at the F.R.I.E.N.D.S of West Tampa BBQ.” — Kathy B.
“Mackenzie — can’t imagine life without her.” — Karen L.
“My sweet 4-year-old, Sawyer, giving his baby sister a big smooch. Every day is a love filled day with Sawyer.” — Missy G.
“My best bud.” — Jennifer S.
“Charlie, 3 years old, with all of his siblings!”– John M.
“Our greatest joy, Anthony, 4 years old.” — Amy B.
This is life.
Overflowing with love.
Thank you to our Mighty community for these photo submissions.