My husband took this picture last night of our oldest son, Nicholas, who has Down syndrome. He plays on the high school JV basketball team. He is such a blessing to me. God knew I needed him.
We as humans have judgements for just about everything, and I feel that it is such a huge problem which is a challenging one to overcome. I know that when I judge, since it is negative, it causes more negativity to come to me. I have noticed particularly this week that I am very guilty of judging, and it is always negative. For instance, I hadn’t heard from someone that I had emailed earlier in the week about a problem that we are trying to work out about a job that we are both working on (in my mind, the email wasn’t negative at all, but I was judging that he might take it to be negative in some way). I assumed/judged each day that went by that I hadn’t heard from him that he was upset at me about it. Plus, his wife had left a phone message for me a few days ago saying that she had a question for me, but when I tried returning her call she didn’t answer, and hadn’t called me back. So in my mind, she was upset at me because I had upset her husband, and her question for me has to do with my email to him. I have been very worried about this all week, which has caused me to feel bad and negative. Today I heard from both of them that proved my judgements wrong. The wife had a basic question for me about some oil, and her husband hadn’t gotten my email until 11pm last night and he apologized in a reply email which contained a great solution to the problem and even a compliment for me. So, I judged them both according to my own perceptions and experiences, and the judgements were totally false. I created for myself much worry, stress, and other negativity because of my judging. This has been a pattern for me. When we judge, not only can we greatly hurt others, but it hurts ourselves because it is negative, and anything negative hurts in one way or another.
Interestingly, last night the women’s organization in my church had a world-wide conference. Thomas S. Monson, a modern-day prophet, was the end speaker. His amazing talk was about judging and how we shouldn’t do it, but often do. His talk this week was no coincidence! You can listen or watch the conference in its’ entirety here http://lds.org/broadcast/grsm/0,6220,285,00.html.
Then, today I was told by a woman who goes to church with us this example of unconditional love and not-judging: Her son, Tom (probably age 15), doesn’t go to church or youth activities very much, and doesn’t feel included with the other kids his age. He wanted to come to a youth activity last week but was very nervous since he hadn’t been there in about a year and a half. He decided to go anyway, and the first person he saw when he walked into church was my oldest son, Nicholas, who has Down syndrome. Nicholas welcomed Tom with an enthusiastic “Hi Tom, its nice to see you!” The mom thanked us and told us how grateful she is for Nicholas’ love for Tom. I am so grateful for my children who teach me. I am also grateful when Nicholas is the recipient of that unconditional love and non-judging. I received this email from his 8th-grade music teacher 2 days ago: “I just have to share with you what happened in music class today. I have been so impressed with Nicholas’ abilities in music. He has been able to complete a big assignment and write a rhythm composition. This is an assignment that some of my other students have struggled with, but not Nicholas. He has seemed to pick up rhythms and note writing really fast. Today the students were clapping their rhythms for the class. I asked Nicholas if he wanted to clap his and he said yes, so Melissa his aid helped him. But he was doing so much of it on his own I was just way impressed. The class watched silently and when he was done they all gave him a HUGE cheer. You should have seen his grin! One of my best teaching moments yet. THANK YOU!”
I firmly believe that when we take notice of the things we need to change, ask God for help, and have faith, that He will guide us to that help.
The Universe keeps bringing Agency to my attention the last few days, so I guess there is something I need to pay attention to and learn from!
Last night, Chris gave our family a lesson for our Family Home Evening on Agency and choices. And on Sunday, one of the lessons that was taught in church was about Agency! The teacher asked the attendees to give examples of how we have made a choice and then noticed the consequences of those choices (she only wanted good examples). I immediately thought of a choice that I made with Nicholas being born, but I felt stupid sharing it in the class. But I will share it here. When I was 7 months along with my oldest child, I was 21 years old, we were told that he had a hole in his heart which would need open-heart surgery, plus he had a “coarctation” (a narrowing of an arch in his heart, which would need to be fixed a few days after his birth), and on top of that there is a 50% chance that he could have Down syndrome which will bring a whole slew of problems on its’ own. Our world was shattered – or so we thought. We decided to have an amniocentesis just to be sure so that we were prepared at his birth. We met with the Geneticist and we were told that he does have Down syndrome and that abortion is an option if we choose it. I have never believed in abortion, and although at the time I felt like my life was basically over and would be miserable from then on, it was a very easy decision to keep him. As I look back on the last 13-1/2 years since Nicholas’ birth, I am so amazed that even though it has been a hard road with him I have learned so much and wouldn’t trade him for anything! He has brought things into my life that I never could have learned or experienced otherwise. I know that Chris feels the same way. So my point is that not all of our choices that we make in life are going to be easy or fun, but if they are right then the pay-offs will be well-worth it and amazing!
I feel very fortunate right now for two reasons. One, that my anxiety has been greatly alleviated, and two, that my son is safe. Nicholas (age 12 and has Down syndrome) was playing down the street along with his brothers, but he wasn’t seen for a while so we had at least ten people out looking for him. The whole time I was searching in my car I realized that I wasn’t having a panic attack like I have had every other time that Nicholas has gone missing. I prayed and stayed calm, because there is no point of getting anxious, it doesn’t do any good. We found him 1/2 hour later, in the backyard of where he was playing, hiding in a bush. It was a nice feeling to stay calm and keep my head about me, and that I wasn’t furious at my son (frustrated, but not furious). I am now looking on the internet for child-tracking devices – calmly, and breathing deep.
At lunch today, I kept staring at my cute little 5-year-old. I realized that I feel so happy watching him, and I enjoy him so much. I also felt sad that I missed out on enjoying my older two boys when they were small, and missed out on Adam’s first 5 years. I wish so much that I could go back and do things over – this time with the knowledge that I have now. But I am trying to enjoy all of them right now, and that’s all that I can do. It feels so wonderful to actually enjoy my children. Although, honestly, I am still struggling being the mom of a child with Down syndrome. It is very difficult in many ways. I’d love to vent all about it, but am not sure that this blog’s readers would appreciate it, so I won’t. (and I shouldn’t focus on negative stuff anyway) But I am trying hard to learn from him and be as kind and patient as I can, and also be a good advocate for him without getting irate over situations (mostly at school) like I used to. I am learning.