As I was nursing Charlie to sleep last night, looking down at his soft, sweet face, I was struck by how rare and special it is to have him as a son. How many mothers have the opportunity to parent a child with a gift. I would not say it is easy parenting Charlie. We have had many struggles. We have worked really hard on things, sometimes for months and months before having success. We currently are trying to figure out how to teach Charlie what things are not okay to do. How do you do this when your toddler thinks every attempt you make at discipline is funny!?
The thing is, Charlie has given us something so sweet. Something we never thought to seek after. Something we never knew we would champion. Charlie has given us a bigger world. A world where it is ok to be exactly who God made us to be. Charlie has taught us to live in the present. I never intended to form so many dreams for my child before he was even born. When we learned Charlie had Down Syndrome, so many dreams felt shattered. How could two people have already developed so many expectations and desires for their child who was only 8 weeks old. He has taught us that indeed, there are no guarantees in this life. There really aren't. So, we've learned to smile more. To laugh every day. To celebrate accomplishments that may seem small--things like swallowing a spoonful of rice cereal, or reaching to the side to get a toy.
It is rare to have a child with Down Syndrome. I am filled with gratitude that God gave us our son Charlie. That he gave us the opportunity to raise this little boy who has enriched and challenged our lives. I wake up every single day smiling ear to ear, because that is what I first see when I open my eyes: two chubby little cheeks, two navy blue eyes, and one bright smile hovering oh so close to my face.