There are moments in life that test you. These moments are meant to test your strength, your will to push through all of the crap and make it out stronger on the other side. I went through one of these moments recently. I was tested, and I failed miserably. But, with that being said, I do believe that it made me realize a lot about myself. I wasn’t as strong as I have been making myself out to be. I have put on a façade, a strong face for everyone around me. But, the truth is, I’m still dealing with everything and I don’t think I can just move past all of those initial feelings so quickly. I think I have been caught up in everything, in all of my happiness, and I haven’t faced reality. The reality is…. I still have a lot of work to do.
Joe and I were excited to go to our neighborhood’s annual block party. With Anthony cozy in his stroller, and cookies in hand (store bought… because, well who are we kidding, I was just too lazy to bake anything) we were ready. When we took those first steps out of the house, I was happy. I honestly was so excited to show off our handsome little nugget to all of the neighbors. But then, anxiety started to creep up on me. I remembered that these people didn’t know about Anthony. They didn’t know our son was born with Down Syndrome. I shook off the worry, and kept walking towards the block party. When we were spotted I had no choice but to keep going, there was no turning back now. All of the neighbors swarmed the stroller to catch a glimpse of the new guy. The old ladies oooh-d and ahhh-d at Anthony. Joe left my side to get a drink, and I was stuck with a ton of people staring at my son. The anxiety was back in full force. It felt like everyone was staring at him for way too long. I just knew that they were looking at his features and thinking that he was different. They kept smiling, but I knew. Their eyes would stare at Anthony, and then at me… like they were waiting for me to say something. But, I didn’t say anything. I just let them look at my son, and I had to try and convince myself to nod my head and say thank you when they told me how precious he was. When I couldn’t take it any longer I signaled Joe over to save me so I could walk away. (When I told Joe about this later in the day, he assured me that he did not notice the same thing. It was almost as if we were at two different parties. He said that everyone was genuine in saying how cute they thought Anthony was. He didn’t think that they were looking at him differently at all. I guess that is just how I felt because that was my biggest fear as Anthony’s mom.)
While I was taking a moment to compose myself and clear my head, I was approached by one of my neighbors. He had just welcomed a son into his family a year ago. He hugged me and congratulated me on Anthony’s birth. Then came the questions. He asked why Anthony wasn’t home for two weeks. I could swear that he knew something, and that he knew my son was different. I had word vomit. It all just came out and I couldn’t stop it. “Anthony was in the NICU for two weeks because he was born with Down Syndrome and had trouble breathing due to the low muscle tone in his neck.” I could tell that I caught him off guard, he swallowed hard and then said, “He doesn’t look like he has Downs.”
We talked about it for a little, about how much I loved Anthony and how amazing he was. I don’t know why, but I felt more at ease talking with him knowing he knew about Anthony. He knew our secret. I know that it’s not really a secret, but it feels that way when people don’t know. It is like I walk around with a big elephant that I have to constantly explain so everyone knows it is okay. Posting my blog really helped lift a huge weight off of my shoulders. I felt like I could finally breathe, everyone knew about Anthony and I didn’t have to keep explaining. However, until the block party, I forgot that it was only the people in my circle that knew. I still had a whole world I had to face. Until that moment, I had only been surrounded by people that knew, and loved Anthony no matter what.
When I left the block party to feed Anthony, I broke down inside the walls of my safe house. I was scared. I was scared of the world. I didn’t want people to look at my son like something was wrong. I didn’t want them to look at him like he was different. I wanted to protect my son. But, I know that I can’t go through life only inside my safe house, I will at some point need to venture out into the world again. I just hope that the next time I step outside my house I am stronger. I hope that I don’t feel the need to explain my son. I hope that once everything is okay with me I won’t care what other people think. It all comes down to me and how I handle situations. I just want to be able to be a strong mommy for Anthony.
Check out this amazing video. This man is truly an inspirational person for Anthony to look up to.
On another note...
VIDEO- Elite Powerlifter with Down Syndrome