Last night I had the pleasure of meeting up with three other families who have children with DS. We all met when our kids were very young and our kids were all born within 4 months of each other.
As families we represent a wide variety of demographics. We have a stay at home mom, some working moms, a single mom, a common law couple and two married couples. Some of us have only our child with DS and some have other children too. One family uses a nanny, and one goes to day home. Three of the families use developmental aides and one uses an extra day home spot - all covered by the state to help our kids reach their full potential. Three of the families also make use of a DS specific preschool class offered in the city.
We all have such a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds; of philosophies and parenting styles and of feelings about our children and Down syndrome. And we all have this wonderful bond of support and delight for our children's accomplishments.
"Want to see a video of A standing up in the middle of the room over and over?" asked one mom (bursting with pride). And we all watched and celebrated the accomplishment of her daughter, knowing how big these milestones are to parents like us. We admired G's rad new walking skills, and B's take charge attitude with her younger sister. And I showed off Phoe's new verbal skills.
We talked about a lot of different topics. Our lives, our partners, our kids. Views on potty training, on vitamin therapy, on which preschool we are going to send our kids to etc, etc. And the wonderful thing about this group of friends is that we can talk about these things, and our views and ideas, without fear of judgement. Because we all are aware that there is no one right way of doing things.
Although I am now at peace with DS, I am so thankful that I have this posse of families who are moving with me through this experience. Who understand the joy, the frustrations, the celebrations and the different way we experience raising children. Whose lives I would never be linked with but for this tiny extra piece of genetic material.
I hope to always be in touch with this amazing group of families both for me and for Phoenix. Because I want her to grow up with other children who understand what it is to have Down syndrome. Just like I appreciate having this community of families who "get it", I want Phoenix to grow up with other children who have challenges, and differences, and unique genetic makeups who "get" her. Of course I want her to have other friends and families whose lives we share too. But just like ex-pats who link and group together in foreign countries to experience 'home', I want Phoenix to have her group of friends who share this common bond.
And a pic of Phoenix swinging in the snow, because that's what we do in November in the North.