As we are nearing the end of October, we are also nearing the end of Down Syndrome Awareness month and I've been uncharacteristically quiet this month. There have been so many times that I have sat down to attempt and write a blog post or two, but as time has gone by I feel like I have a serious case of writers block (evident by the lengthy time that goes in between blog posts these days). When I try and figure out why it's become so hard I think the answer really lies in the fact that life is so much "easier" these days when it comes to raising Colin.
Colin is now a 9 year old 3rd grader and he is very much like any other typical boy. He loves all things sports, singing/dancing (especially those songs that go along with a "show"), being outdoors and riding bikes/scooters (this is becoming a tad easier), reading, playing with friends, swimming, visiting Sesame Place, watching live shows/performances, and being with those he loves the most. He thrives the best under regular routines that are structured because he feels most comfortable when he can anticipate what is coming next. He is extremely polite and well mannered and will confidently greet those around him, even if it means he needs to introduce himself. He is completely comfortable to chat with those he doesn't know as well and will ask plenty of questions so that he better understands the world around him. He is currently being educated in a general education class with appropriate supports and is thriving in this environment. We are so grateful for his school community; there is so much support from the staff and from his peers (and from those people we are grateful to call his friends).
Throughout a lot of the past 9 years, there were certain things that were so much more challenging than others and they always seemed to be at the forefront. Some of the top challenges we had faced were toileting, feeding, his education, and handling different behaviors. We seemed to have gone through "phases" that felt like there was no end in sight and then with consistency, help from teachers/therapists, as well as other professionals we got to a point where we looked back and all of a sudden those things seemed to be so much easier or a "thing of the past". Those things were easier to talk about on the blog because they were the "tough stuff", the things we needed to "vent" about it because they were hard.
I think what makes it harder to blog now is that although we are raising a child with Down Syndrome, life is just "normal" and dare I say, "easy". The things that seemed so hard to get through at one time just seem like challenges we all had to work hard to overcome. Looking back, we see the struggles, but also see how far we've all been able to come. Admittedly, "easy" is still a loose term because we all know that raising ANY child has its challenges, but we really feel that the challenges we face with Colin are our norm for him; this is much the same with Kailey being a 7 year old girl and Cody being a typical 4 year old boy.
I think I can best describe our family as a "happy mess" because nothing is perfect around here but we survive day to day doing the very best we can. We are happy, healthy and enjoying each other and that's all you can really ask for. In all reality, what actually spurred me finally sitting down to blog tonight was that tonight didn't go so smoothly with Colin and left me feeling a little frustrated/emotional. Minor little challenges that can sometimes add up to a rough evening still describes a pretty typical family life. Our "normal" looks a little different than the "normal" of another family, but that's what makes us all unique.
There is no doubt that knowing what I now know, that I would choose any other life for myself and I certainly would not choose any child to replace the perfect child that I have in Colin. In the minutes, hours and days that followed Colin's birth, I was so scared and couldn't help but think, "why me/why us?" (something I'm not exactly proud of us a Mom). There is no way I could ever articulate just how thankful I am that I was given this child to love because there is no way I could love the same without him.