Every year in our home, March 21 is a day to pause, reflect on where we are today, count our many, many blessings, and thank God that by His unfathomable grace which my heart will never truly understand this side of heaven, He chose us to parent four of the most amazing children who have Down syndrome.
I’m so late in sharing for World Down Syndrome Day here. Life happened and before I knew it, here we are almost at the end of April already. But it’s one of my most favorite days in the year to celebrate, and I can’t let it sneak by without shouting from the rooftops about four ginormous pieces of my heart.
These four blessings. What an absolute joy it is to parent them! No, seriously, a JOY!
Last weekend someone asked me about what it’s really like to be their mom. How did I cope with the day-to-day things that come up? How do I deal with raising children who are non-verbal, delayed in all aspects of their lives, unable to communicate their needs, and pretty much dependent on us for everything. How is it to parent not one, but four children with Down syndrome who will always need us to be near?
I had to think about my answer.
Not because I wanted to give her the most perfect answer in the world–one which would lead her to believe that the life that I live is perfect and without trial. Because that’s just not reality.
Nothing that God ever calls us to do is without trials. In fact, we are promised that we will face trials and challenges of many kinds…no matter what our journey looks like.
And so I paused.
And I thought about the four children who rock the extra chromosome who I am so ridiculously blessed to call ours. The four children who have made their way into our hearts and into our family from different places, different situations, and at different times.
Each one destined by the hand of God to be a Salem.
Each one so precious.
So very unique.
So vastly different to each other.
Each one with their own, amazing personality.
Each child with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Fearfully and wonderfully made.
Just the way they are!
Created in the image of a Father in heaven who does all things well.
All things with excellence.
And so, with teary eyes, I told her that these four little children have been my greatest teachers. In raising them, I have been changed from the inside out. I am no longer the person I was before Hailee and Harper joined our family almost eight years ago.
They have taught me the true meaning of loving unconditionally. These precious kids of ours? They don’t see the world through the filter that I too often do. No, they simply love. And they love simply. With their whole, entire hearts! They don’t call anyone a stranger, and they love everyone they meet with a pure, unfiltered love. Their hugs, their kisses, and their love for people don’t pass through the world’s filter which is sometimes quick to judge and quicker still to write off people as being unworthy of our time and attention.
They love. Simply. Fully. With everything that they have.
No matter who enters our home–whether it be a repairman, the post lady, our teenagers’ friends, people we haven’t seen for a very long time or any stranger who has never set foot in our home, when they leave our front door, the loud echo straight from the heart of Harper and Hunter (the only two who use some words to communicate) is always, always the same…
“BYE! I LOVE YOU!”
“BYE! I LOVE YOU!”
And then a third time–just a little louder– just to be sure that whoever is leaving heard and knows for sure…
“BYE! I LOVE YOU!”
My greatest little teachers.
The ones who show me every day that love and hugs are so much sweeter when they’re given away. That life is just too short to view life and people through a filter of judgment, bitterness, anger, preconceived ideas, unfair expectations and cynicism.
How I long to see the world more through the eyes of my children.
A world where the only filter that I see through are the eyes of the Father who made them…with a purity and an innocence and a genuineness that is rare and precious.
I have so very much to learn.