Have you seen Monica and David?
I had learned of the documentary from some of the people I follow on Twitter.
So, one night after I had gotten all the kids to bed I set up the computer to watch what I thought would be a feel good documentary about two adults (who happened to have Down Syndrome) who fell in love and decided to get married.
I asked Nino to join me so we could watch it together, but he was completely honest with me and said he just wasn’t ready to watch it yet. I understood where he was coming from, so I made sure the volume was low enough so that I could watch and so that he could fall asleep with Gellibean peacefully snuggled in his arms.
Watching the documentary stirred so many different emotions in me that I went from smiling, crying, giggling, laughing out loud to fear. I sit here and wonder if a “typical” parent with “typical” children was to watch the documentary what range of emotions he/she might feel watching their story.
You know, when I was given the news of Gelli’s extra chromosome so many things flashed in my head after I had time to process what the doctor told me. I was afraid of my child growing up only to be ostracized and made fun of by other kids in school. I cried because in a moment I flash forwarded and wondered who would take care of her when we were gone. I thought of the love I found with Nino, and wondered if Gelli would find that kind of love for herself.
Everything I read about Down Syndrome out of the gate was depressing. All of the websites that offered cold hard facts about the extra chromosome that my daughter was gifted with left me worried and despondent. I cried because I was scared my youngest child might not be able to stand on her own two feet…she would forever be with me and Nino…needing our help…and the watchful eye we would keep on her of course, that would need to be there all the days of our lives.
I turned the corner, eventually, with help from other “special” parents. Bloggers like Kelle Hampton (who chose to see the gift in her daughter’s birth) showed me that my new baby’s future didn’t seem so bleak. I stayed up all hours of the night (while Gelli was in the NICU recovering) reading blogs that shared with me what it was really like to have a child with special needs. There were angry moms, protective moms, and moms somewhere in between that all shared their stories and their children openly with me. And it was through their voices that I learned there was so much more ahead of me than the despair I had felt the moment the neonatologist gave me the news that my daughter had Down Syndrome.
How did I feel after watching Monica and David?
I felt hopeful.
So the question is-why am I watching a documentary about two young adults who fell in love and wanted to get married when my kid is not even two years old yet?
I guess part of my fears when I first gave birth to Gelli was that she might never find “The One.” (Yes-I like to flash forward in my head sometimes about my children and how I imagine their lives to be. Doesn’t every mom do that?)
I had always imagined my daughters married and with children of their own, sharing trade secrets with each other. This movie gave me hope that Gelli could indeed find someone who was her match-just like I found her father almost seventeen years ago. Monica and David found each other and fell in love. They wanted to get married and their parents supported them in their decision to make a life together.
However, the documentary presented the hardest thing a parent has to do, regardless of whether or not they have a typical child or a child with special needs. Many parents find it hard to let go of their children as they see them grow and want to establish their independence. When you have a child with special needs, you are afforded a little leeway because the assumption is that your child will need your more than your typical children. Both Monica and David’s mother, if given a choice would shelter and isolate their children from the outside world in lieu of a life independent of their parents.
This idea is pretty hard no matter what way you slice it…with all of my children…establishing their independence from me means that they won’t need me so much anymore. As a mom, I know I will miss the days when they need my help, and it makes me think of that quote where you “Give your children wings to soar, and roots to come home.”
Since we will be celebrating Gelli’s second birthday at the end of the month, I know I still have plenty of time to enjoy my little girl as she tries to establish her independence from me in something as simple as choosing where her feet will take her. But for now, I can enjoy her looking for my hand as she wobbles a bit, trying to find her balance. Before I know it, she will be learning how to run. There is another saying for that-isn’t there? Something about “Learning to walk before you can run?”