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A Letter to My Son With Down Syndrome on His Ninth Birthday

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Dear Alex,

As we lay on a hammock a few days before your ninth birthday, you tell me a story of where you’d fly if you were a bird. I listen intently at each word you’ve learned to articulate because we both know that speech is a challenge for you, but you’ve grown with both your words and imagination. And I revel in both. 

I need to apologize to you because I will admit that upon discovering your diagnosis of Down syndrome nine years ago, I cried. I shed tears until my eyes became swollen with disappointment and despair. Why me? I am young and healthy with no genetic predispositions to chromosomal anomalies. 

Yet, you chose me to be your mother, and the moment I held you, I knew why. You were such a beautiful baby. The doctor explained to me that I will most likely not be able to nurse you because of your low muscle tone. But I nursed you with no difficulties. It was this moment that began our journey to share and celebrate each of your accomplishments.

You are not your disability. You never were. You are a young boy navigating the waters of this life the best you know how, and I am your mother who will always stand by you to encourage you, cheer you on and love every inch of you. 

I do recognize that I needed to feel those strong emotions upon discovering your diagnosis. It was all a part of the process. But in many ways, I didn’t realize many of my fears where instilled and manipulated by societal pressures of defining what is “normal,” which I’ll reserve for a different letter. 

I love you my son. And I thank you for everything you’ve taught me. If we were both birds, I have no doubt that we’d soar together among many sunrises and sunsets. Let’s fly.


Your Mom 

Originally published: July 21, 2016
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