Let me start from the beginning.
We're running late to school (shocking, I know) one day last week. As I haul Lauren's wheelchair out of the van, Ryan asks me "When do I get my wheelchair? I want a green one!"
I replied with something along the lines of, "Ryan, honey you probably won't ever have a wheelchair. Lauren has her wheelchair because having Down syndrome makes it a little harder for her ride the bus because she's so small. So her wheelchair allows her to ride the bus with you and still be safe."
"Lauren has Down syndrome? What's that?"
Uhhh..... I wasn't expecting this question yet. Or, like, ever. I guess I just assumed he knew since we talk about it at home and it's not a secret.
I said, "Down syndrome is just part of who Lauren is. Like how you have brown hair and she has blonde hair, or how my favorite color is green and Daddy's is blue. God makes everybody different. Down syndrome might make it harder for Lauren to do some things- that's why it took her a longer time to learn how to walk and why we sometimes have a hard time understanding what she says. But it's not bad, just different! God made her that way."
Um, what?! I needed to prepare for this! I needed to rehearse, write it out, edit out anything stupid I might say. I didn't plan on having this discussion with my almost five year old while we struggle to pull the wheelchair (that he insists on pushing) out of the van in the freezing cold.
I think I handled it alright. I hope so, at least.
I wanted to convey to him that while he and his little sister are different, I love them just the same. And that just because I might help Lauren a little more sometimes or show her extra patience at times, I love them both with every fiber of my being. I want him to know that I am equally proud of them for what they accomplish and who they are, regardless of how different they might be.
Ryan gave me a huge blessing- he made me a mommy and so he will always hold that special spot in my heart, just for him. And Lauren made me grow up and learn who I am, who I can be and how to truly love unconditionally and so she was always hold that special spot in my heart, just for her.
It was such an emotional conversation for me and it took place in about 30 seconds. I'm sure I messed it up, didn't say everything I meant to tell him and maybe even confused him. But being their mom means I get to show them every day how special each of them are. I get to show them how much I love them and how much I celebrate their difference and take joy in their similarities.
Parenting is a really hard job sometimes but thank GOD I get to have it.