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My Answer to the Question, ‘Will He Ever Get Married?'

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In our bedroom, our vows hang at the center. They are the first thing we see when we wake up and the last thing we see before shutting our eyes at night. I heard a rabbi say once that “Marriage is not the most important thing, it is the only important thing.” It’s a big statement, but I see what he means. The stronger our marriage is, the better our faith, our family and our lives. We are better together.

black and white wedding photo

When you have a child with Down syndrome, you get inducted into a club. People reach out to you, they calm you, they strengthen you, they get you.

When Anderson was about 2 weeks old, we got an email from another club member. She found out her son had Down syndrome after he was born. She talked about all of the fears she had and how her son is constantly proving most of those fears to be unfounded. She talked about the hope she has for his future. When you get these messages from other parents, it makes you feel all the feelings — hopeful, sad, joyful, and just downright emotional.

When we were done reading the email, Andy looked at me; he was barely able to speak. The tears ran down his face with such force that his throat started to close up, but he was able to choke out a sentence that I will never forget:

“I hope he meets a girl with Down syndrome. I want him to love someone the way I love you.”

The sentence both warmed and shattered my heart at the same time.

When we were in the diagnosis phase, I think it was this very topic that haunted me the most. Marriage was so important to me, to us… would he ever get to experience it for himself? Will he ever find someone to love and will that someone love him back?

As life expectancy increases for people with Down syndrome, so does the marriage rate. But it appears that when people with Down syndrome get married, it’s a newsworthy event. In other words, it’s still not commonplace. Where would Anderson fall, the married or unmarried side?

I want him to get married. But I realize that I want him to get married because marriage has brought me so much joy.  Marriage makes me a better person. But just because I have chosen to make it the center of my life, doesn’t mean that it has to be the center of Anderson’s life. And that would be okay. Our job as parents isn’t to make photocopy versions of ourselves. Our job is to instill our good values in our children, but also to teach them to be independent, to make their own decisions, to make their own lives.

So, to the rabbi, I kindly disagree. Marriage isn’t the only thing, love is. Maybe Anderson won’t love someone the way his Dad and I love each other, but he will love and he will be loved. He will love his sister, his grandparents, his cousins and maybe even a wife.

Married or unmarried, our son’s life will be full of love.

This post originally appeared on News Anchor to Homemaker.

Originally published: March 25, 2015
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