I recently shared the following thought on my Sipping Lemonade Facebook page (Are you on Facebook? Come visit! I post lots of other neat things I find there.) Anyway, I think it’s an important sentiment, so I wanted to share here as well.
I recently had a reader comment that she is “uncomfortable with the way all people who have [Down syndrome] are portrayed as sweet, affectionate, and capable” when she knows people who have Down syndrome who are not that way. The reader went on to comment that she’s tired of articles that “paint [individuals with Down syndrome] like pets that every family should get.” This is a common criticism that I see against articles or blogs that speak positively (or as some would say “over-positively”) about Down syndrome.
But to that criticism I say this:
What child, of any ability, is not challenging at times? What child brings with them the promise of an easy, stress-free life? Writing about the “blessing” of having a child with Down syndrome is by no means sugar-coating a situation where life is, at times, hard. Life *is* sometimes hard — with any child — but it is also incredibly rewarding and incredibly valuable. It is always worth it.
The world doesn’t need me to go on about the challenges of having a child with Down syndrome: there are enough people doing that. In fact, we talk about that so much that the majority of mothers who receive a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis terminate their pregnancies.
Of course, people with Down syndrome — like anyone — can be affectionate and can be stand-offish and can be sweet and can be gruff and can have all sorts of abilities. (We all can!) But who needs that disclaimer when writing about the blessing of your own child?
In a world where many doctors deliver the news of Down syndrome as if it were the worst thing in the world, I can say that having Kate has been one of the best things to ever happen to me.
That is not a generalization or condescension or sugar-coating. That is, simply, the truth.
And it is a truth we need to hear more often.