I often write about how life is very much about perspective, how its really all about the way you deal with the good and bad things that come your way, and, sometimes, more importantly, the ability to see which things are good and which are bad.
So many of my "blogger friends" have been writing about joy lately -- choosing to live a joy-filled life and embracing this thing we call living. No one's life is perfect; but cherishing the lives we are given is such an integral part of our happiness. Life has so very many lessons if we will only stop and listen and look for them.
Today, I spent some time reading a blog of a Mom I don't know. She has two children, a 4-year-old son, and a 6-month-old daughter, who has Down syndrome.
This Mom was not prenatally diagnosed, and was quite surprised to learn her daughter had T21 at birth. Like many people, she had a 'this couldn't happen to me' feeling, and was sent reeling when she learned the news about her daughter.
Her posts over the last 6 months have been rather melancholy. I suspect that she has a degree of PPD as well, as she often writes about how hard it is to leave her house, but how she does feel better when she forces herself out into the world.
She is early on this journey into life with a child with T21. And she is still very skeptical at best. She isn't ready for the "choose joy" philosophy that so many of my friends and I spout on a daily basis. She writes that she doesn't want to meet other people with DS right now, and doesn't want to hear any "sappy stories" about any person with T21 that has done something wonderful.
In one of her posts, she says she doesn't want to ever hear again that her daughter might be a grocery bagger when she grows up. She doesn't want to "look forward" to that or particularly celebrate it if it happens.
It doesn't comfort her to know that people with T21 usually achieve some level of independence, and often hold a job, have many hobbies, friends and family.
What really struck me, though, is that there are no posts mourning her son, who may decide on a very "menial" career as well.
Throughout my day, I was conscious of people who have chosen jobs over careers -- who are really the backbone of our society. There's the manager of the Tim Horton's where I bought coffee this morning, and the people who served me there; a very nice man pumped gas for me today in the subzero freezing cold; at the grocery store, there was a man who was re-stocking the shelves with nice fresh bread for my family; my recycling and garbage was picked up at the corner this morning; if an appliance of mine breaks, a phone call is all it will take to fix it.
All of these are very respectable jobs, but perhaps not ones that this Mom would "dream" of for her son. Yet, if he chose one of them, I would think she would embrace the total package of her grown son...if he were a responsible, good, happy man, I would assume she would think him successful regardless of his career.
And...there are those who chose some not so wonderful careers. A mother who sat on Parent Council with me a couple of years ago at our Catholic School has recently gotten herself a set of fine and dandy new boobies, and is putting them to good use in a very seedy Montreal strip joint, dancing naked, taking men to champagne rooms for who knows what, etc. She has three young children at home, including a 10-year-old daughter.
I would assume she is not currently in a career her own Momma hoped she would be in.
So, apparently, having an extra 21st chromosome isn't the only defining factor in having a job like bagging groceries or stocking shelves.
So, why are we so obsessed with worry about what may or may not come in 10 or 20 years? Why is this Mom spending days in her house, fighting back tears, trying to get through each day, yet constantly thinking about the future for her daughter, and seeing nothing but bleak when she looks ahead.
I once met a man who had a brother with Down syndrome. His parents had always told him he would not be responsible for caring for his brother if anything happened to them. They put all the necessary things in place to make sure he wasn't "burdened" by his older brother when his parents died.
He said to me, "What they didn't think about is that it is not my burden -- it is my great blessing to have my brother in my life."
He was married, with two young children at home. Not only did his adult brother live with him, but his brother's two best buddies, who also had Down syndrome. And they all lived a happy, fulfilled life.
Maybe I'm missing something, but we don't get a crystal ball when our children are born -- they don't come with tarot cards, or "Raven" who has visions of the future.
So, what makes us think that tiny little chromosome is going to predict anything at all for us?
Choose to live joyfully -- it will make all the difference.