Today, July 25th, we celebrate two incredible years with our little knight in shining armor.
As I look back, I’ve discovered a simple truth:
Having a Child with Down Syndrome Makes Life Better
This post is especially dedicated to parents who have just found out that their child has a special need. You are in for an incredible journey.
So here they are:
7 REASONS WHY HAVING A CHILD WITH DOWN SYNDROME (OR ANY SPECIAL NEED) MAKES LIFE BETTER
#7 | You’ll Enjoy The Baby Stage Longer
Sometimes, my jaw drops when I hang out with kids the same age as Knightly. When did they become these running, talking, complicated little adults – having full on conversations, driving cars, buying houses, and getting jobs?! Or whatever the other typical things two year olds do nowadays.
Usually around the time I start to dwell on when Knightly will get to that stage, Knightly happily babbles and waddles over to me to give me a hug.
He’s quite content at his pace of development.
And I’m filled with joy holding my little cuddly marshmallow for more time than a typical parent can.
#6 | Every Milestone Is a Big Party
When Knightly finally rolled over for the 1st time, it’s like winning an Academy Award.
(Holding my Oscar): Wow, this is such a surprise! I’d just like to thank all the therapists, the doctors, the family who’ve all brought me to this day.
Whenever your child shows a new skill as small as it may seem to anyone else, you know how hard they’ve worked, how hard you’ve worked to get there and it is truly amazing. My heart jumps with joy every time and I am in awe of how much a miracle each milestone is.
#5 | Your Child Will Change Your Worldview and Constantly Pull You Out of the Rat Race
Hello, I’m Drexelle and I’m an overachievaholic.
One of God’s greatest gifts was giving me a child with special needs to ROCK my worldview and constantly pull me out of the rat race I so love to join in on.
I’ve heard this from many other parents and have found it true for me.
Greater than any education or class I’ve attended, Knightly has been my best teacher of what it means to be a better human. He slows and steadies me, makes me stop and smell the roses (or, more likely in his case, grab for all nearby living things and objects).
At times, I’ve found strangers staring at his inability to do something and, as I grow self-conscious about how they feel about him or what they think, he’ll surprise them by blowing them a kiss.
And they smile.
And inside I couldn’t be any prouder.
#4 | Your Child Will Make You a Fighter
I was a hopeless people pleaser ’til Knightly was born. Confrontation felt so impossible for me.
But becoming a mother makes you stronger (biologically and emotionally).
And becoming a mother to a child of special needs pushes you into scenarios where you become a fighter.
Whether it’s at the doctors, with insurance, with schools, with specialists, with random strangers or even family, you learn to have a voice and to use it loudly when needed. You have to fight for your child and you’ll get opportunities to practice and get better at doing so.
#3 | You’ll Get an Awesome Parenting 101
Especially as 1st time parents, I cannot rave enough about how helpful all the therapists, doctors, nurses, specialists have been in teaching us how to become better parents and how to raise and grow and discipline and challenge our child.
Since Knightly was 6 weeks old, we’d see at least 5 therapists in specialized playtime at early intervention every week. And, every week, we were able to bring up ANY parenting question we had – whether it was on teething, sleep training, behavioral issues, they’ve been absolutely invaluable.
And even more importantly, the people that have helped us along the way have been there with so much love, inspiration and encouragement. They’ve held my hand and kept my head up high through some of my toughest moments of grief.
And, by the way, all these resources were covered by our amazing Regional Center! If you know any parents who have kids with special needs or a disability, have them contact their local Regional Center to get in touch with these awesome resources.
I know, if God blesses us with other children, we’ll be putting to use everything we’ve learned from Knightly’s therapies to our next child.
That poor child.
#2 | You’ll Join a Community That Becomes Your Family
It’s been called Joining the Club You Never Knew You’ve Always Wanted to Be a Part Of – and it’s true.
The parents we’ve met through Knightly’s therapies and through the support groups we’ve joined have been walking answers to prayer. They’ve become like family. We’ve seen each other go through incredible ups and some horrendously hard downs. We cry over each other’s hardships. We scream and cheer when each other’s kids accomplish a milestone. We understand each other’s journeys. And we’ve made lifelong friends (in fact, we’re already arranging marriages among our children).
It’s incredible to watch these kids and to know these families have watched Knightly grow since he was just a few weeks old.
#1 | You Get to Be Your Child’s Parent
But he is.
And this baby has taught and challenged me more in life than I ever would’ve imagined. As he waddles and falls down and gets back up and smiles with wonder at the world, I get to view his world more closely than if he were just some kid I’d heard about or someone else’s kid I knew. Every day, I get to see his journey and watch him grow. And I thank God that I get to be a part of it – that I get to celebrate it.
I thank God that, at the end of the day, I get to hold him in my arms, sing a lullaby and tuck him into bed at night to sleep. And, that every morning, as soon as I open his door, I’ll see him standing up in his crib, smiling, and reaching his arms out for me to hold him again.
When I first heard his diagnosis of Trisomy 21 two years ago, all I could do was cry, praying to God that He would cure my baby and take it all away. But if it weren’t for Knightly having Down Syndrome, I would never have met so many people who’ve moved and inspired and encouraged and become dear friends to me. I wouldn’t have developed the panic disorder that caused me to be challenged, faced fears, get fit and ultimately start pursuing my lifelong dream of writing and speaking. My husband wouldn’t have turned his life upside down and inspired him, a man who NEVER cared to exercise before Knightly was born, to now be working out 7 days/week to train for an Ironman.
So many of the great things God has brought our way these past two years were because we got to be Knightly’s parents. And, despite the hardships we know you’ll have to face as a parent to a child with special needs, your story will have those great moments. And those moments would’ve never happened if you hadn’t walked this path as your child’s parent.
This post is dedicated to the beautiful families who have a child with special needs…
and to my boy: Happy birthday, Knightly darling! You truly make life better <3
Want to show off about your child with special needs and what they’ve done in your life?
I would be so blessed to hear your story. Would you leave me a comment and tell me your journey?