I wish you could have laid down next to him as he fell asleep last night. He was smiling at me until his mouth was too tired. His eyes looked into mine, opening and closing slowly until he gave into a world of sweet dreams. I loved that moment with him. I thought about how awful it would be if I didn't have him in my life…and then I thought of you. I thought about how I would give you this moment if you would take it. I would let you enjoy the deep joy moments that I get to know as Elias' mom. It would be hard for me to give up, but I would let you be me for a day. I would let you know something beyond the facts and books. I would let you in to the deep secrets that only a mother could know…far beyond what a doctor or geneticist could tell you. If I could, I would give you understanding that would change your life.
“But I'm not like you,” you tell me. “I’m not the kind of mom that would be good for a child with Down syndrome. I couldn't give him what he needs.” I laugh to myself, I've heard this so many times. You know what? I have days when I'm frustrated. Days when I wish my son was different. Days I want to run. But I have those days with my typical children too. You might think I'm brave. You may think there is something special about me, but having a son with Down syndrome is one of the hardest things in my life. I don't have time like I would if he was typical. I miss out on things that other moms get to do because he is not typical. I worry. I cry just thinking about the day someone calls my son retarded for the first time. I get scared when I can't find him and have to run down the street looking for him, begging to God to spare his life! The lingering what if's about his health are a constant battle for me. Some days I feel as though there is nothing left of me. I am drained physically and emotionally, I have given it all to Elias.
There is more to this story, though. There is more to life with my son. If I could let you feel the deep love in my soul, it would change your mind in a single moment. But I can't do that. There are no words, pictures, or videos that could even begin to let you in on the life I have with Elias. There is only one way to find out—to continue on! Don't let fear rob you of joy.
If I could give you little piece of my heart that I have for my son, I would. It would be hard to give it up, but I would give it to you. I would let you take my place and know the belly laughter that brings tears to my eyes when I'm supposed to be putting Elias to bed. I would let you feel his gentle hands as he holds my face and says, "Mom, I wuv you." I would let you read him a book, you would be amazed at his enthusiasm. You would want to read ten more!
If you begged me, I would let you take my place and buy him a hamburger and fries. Your heart would be overjoyed at how much he loves the simplest things in life, and before you know it, you would start to fall in love with the way his mind works. Like me, you would long to be a little more like him.
My life does not come without sacrifice, I know that. I'm not trying to hide anything, or make you think it's all hearts and rainbows with Elias. You can find the facts you want and talk to the people who will give you the answers you want…but remember that there is more. And if you want more, it will not come from only information. It will be a step of faith. You will never have to live with the thought, "What if I chose to keep my baby with Down syndrome?” You would know things that only a mother like me knows. But you’d have to continue the journey, embracing the unknown one day at a time. I am on the most fulfilling journey. I would not have chosen it for myself, but when it was placed in front of me, by God's grace I continued on. He gave me faith to keep walking.
If I could let you take my place for the day I would. It would be hard to give up, but I would do it for you.