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To the Woman Who Wouldn't Make Eye Contact With My Daughter With Down Syndrome

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I saw you tonight.

I saw how you looked at my daughter, and how you looked at me.

I saw how you looked away, looked at the ground, looked anywhere else to keep from having to look at my daughter.

I saw you when you squirmed around uncomfortably after my daughter waved and smiled at you.

I saw how you looked at me. I know that look all too well. It was pity. You looked at my daughter and I with pity.

My precious baby loves to make people smile, she’s beautiful like that.

I saw how hard she kept trying to make you smile.

I saw how hard you worked to avoid making eye contact.

My beautiful baby is like any other baby, she’s more alike than different. She is smart, strong, resilient and motivated to accomplish anything she sets her mind to.

Good things come in threes. Like her 21st chromosome.

I wanted to tell you that Down syndrome is not contagious, but kindness is.

I wanted to tell you that my youngest daughter is the most amazing person I’ve ever known. That she’s already been through and overcame more in her 17 months of life than most people accomplish in 50 years of their life.

She doesn’t care if someone looks a little different. She is pure joy personified, and she tries to spread that joy to everyone she meets.

Little girl with Down syndrome wearing red dress. Over the photo the words: "I believe I will make a difference in this world"

She saw you tonight. But she didn’t see you the way I did because she’s better than that. She’s better than us.

You saw me tonight, too.

You may have misinterpreted the way I looked at you. I looked at you the way you looked at me. With pity.

You see, Savannah has made all of us better people. She has made our family realize what is important in life; she has shown us how beautiful real, genuine, unconditional love feels.

She has shown us how there is still a lot of beauty left in this world.

She is a source of absolute, overwhelming joy.

Yet you still worked so hard to not make eye contact with her.

You didn’t get a glimpse of the love and joy she shares with everyone around her.

For that, I pity you. You missed out on an amazing opportunity with an exceptional young lady.

I’m nothing special, but she is.

Nobody should ever feel sorry for me and my family.

I am happier than I have ever been. We all absolutely adore her.

I believe the true showing of strength in this life is only 10 percent what happens to you, because 90 percent of who you are is based on how you handle what happens to you.

Tonight, a little girl with Down syndrome smiled and waved to you several times. The way you handled that happening to you is incredibly sad.

Tonight, you acted as if my daughter, the center of my universe and love of my life, was some kind of freak that shouldn’t be integrated with the rest of the world. And being the mama bear I am, it made me incredibly angry at you and your ignorance. What I wanted to do and say to you would have caused a scene.

And that’s not how I should react to what happens to me. That’s not the example I want to set for my children.

This wasn’t the first time that this happened, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

But I saw you tonight.

Originally published: March 28, 2018
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