On my flight today, I sat behind a young Mother holding an 11-month old boy. He was beautiful. Not in a traditional way, though. He was beautiful from the inside out, and I thought so as soon as I saw him.
You should know I’m not really a “kid” person. I’m not anti-kid at all, but personally I’ve never longed for a child. I’m glad other people have kids, of course, but it’s just never been my thing. And as a person with a disability, having kids has always felt kind of, well, I’ll just say “tricky” and leave it at that.
But, this little boy held on his Mother’s lap was captivating. He observed with intensity. I’ve never seen a child consider his surroundings with such concentration–the blue leather seat, the olive briefcase, the orange silk scarf. He was so curious, so deeply invested in putting the mental pieces together that I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
What a sweet soul, I thought.
It was nearly ten minutes before I noticed that something was different about this baby, something more than I’ve just described. As his mother eventually confirmed, he has Down Syndrome.
She talked about how she and her husband had packed up their lives and moved across the country because the baby had breathing problems in their old location. She said he already has an occupational therapist and physical therapist, and he would begin with a speech therapist next year.
He’s been here for 11 months.
I looked at how young the Mother is, and I watched as she wrapped her whole heart around that child. I wondered about all the possibilities for their future, and I thought about how emotionally challenging the past eleven months must have been–so many doctors and tests and treatment plans and research. And I watched as she held that little boy to her chest, how she rocked him gently back and forth, and how she kissed his head. So much love.
…and sitting there on that flight, watching that 11 month old baby with Down Syndrome take in the wonder and love of his new world, I felt the only ping of regret I’ve ever had for not having children.
I suppose it’s true that real love can make you see things differently.
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