Grateful for a Difficult Diagnosis
“We suspect your son has Down syndrome.” With those seven words – that one sentence – we abruptly left the path of “supposed to” that we were on with our eldest son. We were supposed to have a “healthy” child; we were supposed to have a child who would grow up and go to college as his parents did; we were supposed to raise a “typical” family with wonderful and smart children who would be productive members of society. Society often tells us, however, that a Down syndrome diagnosis means your child won’t become what they’re “supposed to” be.
I’m forever grateful for a husband who is my partner in deeply loving and endlessly nurturing both our boys; I’m grateful for a tribe of family members who support us through the extra doctor and therapy appointments; I’m grateful for the friends who keep us well-hugged; and I’m grateful for the teachers and therapists who’ve helped our son keep meeting each new goal for intellectual, physical, and emotional growth.
But, most surprisingly, I’m often grateful for that diagnosis. While I don’t wish any additional struggles on a child or a family, the extra chromosome that results in Down syndrome has been the key for opening a door to a world filled with celebrations of milestones we might have otherwise taken for granted and opportunities to slow down and concentrate on building character and not just intellect while appreciating the perfection in what you’re told is imperfection and the immediate bonds and camaraderie found among parents who have children with extra needs.
I’m most grateful as a parent – I mean, on-my-knees thankful – to have these two beautiful boys to hold in my arms each day. Both have health concerns that initially made us weak (the elder with the extra chromosome and the younger with heart defects), but they blew the doors off my capacity to love. And, yes, each has medical codes and diagnoses on their charts, yet BOTH are healthy and BOTH will go to college if they choose. BOTH are smart, funny, kind, artistic, athletic, intellectual… and wild and crazy at the same time. I’ve come to see that the challenges of parenting any child result in a continual process of breaking and rebuilding your heart and soul. I know our little family is as typically a-typical as they come. And, for that, I can now honestly say, “I’m grateful.”
–Kathy Scott Rummage
Denver, North Carolina