On the way home from school today, Josie suddenly asked me, “Would it be hard if I had a disability, too?”
Since I was completely caught off-guard, I asked her, “What do you mean?”
She answered me, “Would it be hard if I had a disability like Moses?”
I thought for a few seconds and gave her my honest answer: “No, I don’t think it would be hard. We would do whatever it was that you needed to live your best life. And we would love you just like we love you right now.”
At that point, we had pulled into the garage. She got out and went inside. By the time I got Moses out of his car seat, gathered all of my stuff, and got inside, the conversation was clearly over. She had already unpacked her backpack, gotten herself a snack, and turned on the TV.
To be honest, I didn’t think anything else about the conversation, either, as I started putting my things away, unloading the dishwasher, and mentally preparing myself to clean the shower in my bathroom. (I would rather dust all day long than clean that shower.)
A few hours later, Josie was across the street playing with her friend, and Moses and I took Opal for a walk. Not long into the walk, he reached over and grabbed my hand. Every few steps he would stop, squat down, count to three, and then he would jump up and I would pull a little to help him go even higher. He loves this game and the laughs we both get out of it are the best.
After a while, he stopped jumping and we just walked hand-in-hand. At one point, I looked down at him and he looked up at me and smiled. It was one of those smiles that shines of pure happiness and love. One of those smiles that catches your breath and your heart.
That’s when I thought back to the question Josie had asked me earlier. And I thought to myself, “This isn’t hard.”
Yes, having a child with a disability comes with challenges. And if I focused on the challenges and dwelled on them day-after-day, then I would surely say it’s hard to have a child with a disability.
However, when I watch my son laugh and play and enjoy this life he’s been given, I find it difficult to see the hard. If he’s not dwelling on the challenges he has, then why should I? What good would that do him? What good would that do me?
There are times to focus on the challenges. When they are having a negative impact on him, they need to be addressed. There are some instances when it is in his best interest to be proactive and attempt to address potential challenges before they arise.
I do the same thing for my child who doesn’t have a disability.
But that’s not where I choose to keep my focus.
Ever since I found out my child was going to have Down syndrome, it has been important for me to remember that I have a choice about how I look at things and what I focus on. And I choose to look at my son and see the strength and determination and joy and love that he has. I choose to look for the solutions to the challenges he faces and focus on implementing them. I choose to advocate for what will help live his best life rather than accept certain things as-is.
There are times that it would be easier to focus on the challenges. To focus on the hard. But if he’s not choosing to do that, then why should I? Why should anyone?
I would much rather focus on that smile that catches my heart.
What do you choose to focus on?