It starts off innocently enough….
“Awww he’s such a cutie, how old is he?”
In comes my dilemma, Do I tell this person the truth or lie? I go with the truth.
“He’s almost 22months now.”
“WOW!! He’s so little still.”
“Yeah, he has Down Syndrome, and had to have intestinal surgery right after he was born and open heart surgery at 4 months. So that has delayed his growth a bit.”
“Oh I’m sorry, well he is a real cutie and I wouldn’t have known.”
But I do know… and I hate these moments. When I look at my son Gabriel who is my angel disguised as an energetic, willful, independent little boy, I do not see his Downs, I see Gabriel. He does not fit the image I had as I grew up of what Downs is. He does not fit the description that the Geneticist gave me of what Downs is. He is so typical it is scary.
But…. I am his mother so I figure of course I don’t see it. But I am sure everyone else does, or at least that is what my protective mothers’ heart thinks. I am sure they are feeling sorry for my Gabriel or me. I am sure they are judging him and me.
“She was selfish having a child at her age.”
“What was she thinking?”
“That poor, poor baby.”
“Downs, what’ll happen to him?”
I am sure they see the slope of his beautiful hazel eyes, and not the mischievous glint. I am sure they see his tongue sticking out, and not his wonderful smile. I am sure all they see are his delays, and not his intelligence and achievements . This turns me into a fierce, doubtful, protector of my beautiful little boy. Not even giving those around me the benefit that they are not seeing the Downs, but are truly seeing Gabriel with the same eyes that I see him. Allowing others to see him the way I do, the way I know they probably really do see him.
When I see someone looking at Gabriel I assume it’s because of his having Down Syndrome. This is my inner and personal struggle. And I am learning to stop and breathe and not be so protective and defensive. That more than likely they are looking at Gabriel because he is such a character and such a cutie and THAT, not his having Downs, is really what they see when they are looking at him. Just a cute little boy in a stroller with his mom. (I’ll get there).
Bobbie Aguilera is a mother to three incredible people; a daughter, Cassandra who is 22, an older son Jordan who is 14 and her youngest son Gabriel who is 22 months and has Down Syndrome. She is a wife to a patient and loving man who puts up with all of her moods, creative outbursts and out of this world ideas and idealism. She went to culinary school to be a chef and did cook for awhile in a couple of restaurants, but is now happily both a SAHM and WAHM. Having the privilege to be able to have her own business of Cake design and decorating as well as be there for her family everyday. Having a child with Downs has it’s challenges and fears but the joy and the blessings always outweighs them. He is her Angel Gabriel. You can visit her blog, The Girl In Zebra Pumps or follow her on twitter @ThaDevineMsB
Sometimes it doesn’t matter the diagnoses, the challenge, people see…and people stare, feel ‘sorry’ for you. How many times has something like this happened to you? What have you done? What would you do?