Ten Years Ago Today, I Never Saw This

On March 4, 2003, when Micah was 24 hours old, we were told that he was being tested for Down syndrome. That day changed our lives forever in so many ways. In the days following that news, my thoughts were wild and scattered, and I tried desperately to rein them in and try to focus on a plan for the rest of our lives. The problem, though, was that I had no idea what the rest of our lives would be like. At all. There's so much I could talk about from that very long, and very short week that we lived through before we got the positive test results back. I remember, at one point, trying to see into our future, and how Micah would fit into our family at the 10 year mark and the 20 year mark.

I figured that once Micah hit 20, we'd have life pretty much figured out. Sure, there will be bumps in the road, but no longer will we be dodging potholes. Life is full of bumps for everyone, and they'll be rather normal-ish bumps by the time Micah is 20, because we'll kind of know what we're doing by then in this world of Special Needs. And still, I think of 20 as some sort of magical number that'll signal, to me at least, that we've made it. Micah will have graduated, he'll be an adult, and we'll just be a normal family with a wonderfully different kid. Who is 20.

The 10 year mark, in my mind, was kind of a halfway point to that magical number of 20. At 10, I envisioned Micah as a big boy (not my baby any longer) who ran through the yard and played football with his brothers. I saw him in school, and while I didn't know what that looked like, I knew I wouldn't be home schooling him.  If I thought of 20 as magical, I thought of 10 as a turning point. If we could get to 10, we'd be halfway to our goal of being there. Wherever there was. Ten was the point where I thought we'd pretty much be done struggling with new questions and concerns all the time, and start figuring out how to just live normally with a disability. Ten was when we'd transition from "scared to death and flying by the seat of our pants" to "we're really alright. Let's figure out how to make this look normal."

Now, 10 years later, it's interesting to see how much of this is kind of dead on. Are we still scared to death at times? Of course. But as parents of "normal" kids, we're still experiencing that with them as well. It's called parenting. Are we still flying by the seat of our pants? Definitely. And I suspect that we will be for quite some time. Maybe for the rest of our lives.

I didn't ever foresee that Micah wouldn't be talking at the age of 10, and the complications that was presenting to us. But other than that, Micah is pretty much the 10  year old boy I envisioned he would be. He's the cute little boy running in the yard, playing football with his brothers. He loves life, and laughing. He's a friend to everyone. He loves singing and dancing. And drumming. He wants nothing more than to be one of the gang, no matter what gang that is. And in his eyes, he has no disability.

That is the one thing I never saw, ten years ago. I never realized that our son would teach us so much. I see the world differently in so many ways. I parent my other kids differently because of what Micah has taught me. I live my own life differently because of what we have learned parenting him. And the entire family agrees that he is the single biggest blessing we have. If the rest of the world had the opportunity to live with the disability called Down syndrome, it would be a better place. The world would be happier, and more patient, and laugh more often. They would stress less and love more. They wouldn't be embarrassed about being different, but would embrace it.

Ten years ago, I never saw myself as an advocate. Today, I realize that I was given a job to do. It's not to stand up for my son against the world, because Micah can do that all by himself. Everyone that meets him instantly loves him. My job, instead, is to teach the world that there is nothing wrong with Micah, or those like him. We are the ones that are wrong. We live our lives focused entirely on the wrong things. Things that don't matter at all. Things that, in ten years, we'll look back on and wonder what we did with our time.

Today, I thank God, again, that He blessed us so richly ten years ago. Micah is definitely not the kid we planned, but he's everything we ever wanted. And so much more.


Cindy said...

Great post! I loved this!

Tara said...

Way to make me cry! This is an awesome post. I really resonated with flying by the seat of your pants as a parent. Exactly. With ALL of our kids, not just those with something extra. I love that you open your life up here. Micah always makes me smile!

Suburban Correspondent said...

We never can tell what life has in store for us, can we? Or what challenges we'll be grateful for later on...