From early on in my adult life I knew deep in my heart that my travels through Life would be a little different from ‘the norm’. I married later than all of my friends, started a family later, and then was blessed to have a daughter who happens to have Down Syndrome. We had the name ‘Grace’ picked out years before she came along (it is the meaning of my name) and appropriately it means ‘Gift’. For that is what Grace has been to our family. It has indeed been a Journey. Grace is now 15 years old and although we get to experience the tween attitude now, we would not trade her in for anything.
Here are some of the Lessons of Grace that we have learned over the years:
- IT IS OKAY TO TALK TO PEOPLE ON THE ELEVATOR OR IN LINE… We all tend to avoid eye contact or just stare straight ahead. Grace, however, loves to meet everyone and socialize with them. We have met so many strangers over the years because of her.
- WHEN PEOPLE ARE SAD, THEY JUST WANT TO BE HUGGED… She is always concerned when someone is crying or sad and wants to hug and console them. Personally, I have a tough time hugging others and do not always know what to do or say when someone is sad. Grace is teaching me that it is okay to embrace others more.
- IT IS IMPORTANT TO SAY “I’M SORRY” IF YOU HURT ANYONE… There were many times that Grace was the reason why other little girls (usually the emotional ones) would be crying. She went through a long stage of pulling hair when she was young. I think she was just fascinated with long, golden hair and would reach out to touch it, causing the owner to pull away in shock and get her hair tugged. Yet Grace always said “Sorry..” and would then try to hug them tightly. She did not make many close friends during this stage.
- PEOPLE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN TOYS… I have been asked multiple times what Grace’s interests or favorite toys are. It has always been people. She came out a social butterfly and chats away with anyone she engages with. However, she has also embarrassed me at times with her strong opinions. One time someone we met was so excited to get our girls together and Grace took one look at the daughter and said “I don’t like her!” They eventually did become friends, yet that was quite humbling.
- SOMETIMES WE JUST NEED TO STOP AND TAKE A NAP… Anywhere. Anytime. Enough said.
- IF YOU ARE SAD, JUST SAY “I AM HAPPY” AND FORGET ABOUT WHAT WAS UPSETTING YOU… Of my three kids, Grace gets over a foul mood quicker than any of them and flashes a smile to let us know that she is happy again. If only it was that easy for the rest of us!
- IT’S IMPORTANT TO WAKE UP EACH MORNING WITH A SMILE… Grace has always been a morning person and now that she is getting older we hear “what’s next?” a lot. This is tough when we have no plans or she is not excited about “what’s next”. Yet, unlike her older brother, she always starts the day in a great mood, ready to conquer the Day.
- WE ALL WANT FRIENDS WHO LOVE US AS WE ARE AND DO NOT STARE AT US IF WE MAY BE ‘DIFFERENT’… Being my social bug, Grace has made lots of friends over the years. Bless the ones who have patiently listened to her passing obsessions (over and over again). We all just want to have people listen to our hearts, don’t we?
- WE NEED MORE OF THE ‘OH, WOW SYNDROME’…That is what I call it when Grace is next to me one second, and then missing the next. What was so fascinating that caused her to say in her head “Oh, wow!” and then take off after it? This was not always logical and yes, we ‘lost’ her temporarily a few times in stores and in our neighborhood. Now she at least looks back at me like, “Oh, yeah..I’m supposed to check in with you first”. I need to look around more and find wonderful things that attract my attention.
- TO BE CONTENT IN LIFE IS A GREAT THING… There is a stereotype with these wonderful kids with Down Syndrome. The stereotype is that ‘They are always so happy’. Always happy? No. Content? Yes. I long to be content with what is going on in my Life, to embrace each day and each person I encounter and to be content.
Grace has been a wonderful gift and is teaching us about living life with a different perspective as we move forward in our journey in life as a family.
“Grace is a pleasant surprise…Grace is a kind gesture. Grace is something you did not expect. Yet Grace is something you would never turn down.” Max Lucado
Have a grace filled day!