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I just got a text message from my mother.  Sam and Hannah are staying with them for the week and Mom said that she suddenly heard Silas, our little brother, shout in excitement.  The reason?

Sam was lying in bed and sat up by himself! He has been able to sit by himself but we always had to help him transition from the lying position to sitting up.  This is indeed a milestone and we’re all thankful for the development.

I think that in addition to the fact that he is becoming stronger physically, he is also becoming more determined to start moving around on his own.  I can’t wait to see him tomorrow when they go back to the city!

Snapshot from the Past

You know how sometimes, you remember a scene from the past very vividly even though you cannot explain why?  I have a similar experience of my own, something that didn’t really make much sense until Sam came into our lives.

I remember  Blas, Joel, and some other dormers from Narra Dormitory spending a week in our church for a retreat.  As a last day activity, they decided to go swimming at a nearby resort.  I don’t remember much from that day except that while I was sitting by the pool side, I noticed a bunch of kids and a couple of adults having the so much fun.  Their attention was centered on a little boy who seemed to have Down’s Syndrome.  I could not help but notice how much love and affection they all bestowed on the little boy.

At that time, I just thought of it as one of those moments when you witness a family being drawn together and sharing good times.  I forgot all about it.  That is, until recently when I experienced the very same thing with Sam and our whole family.  From our grandma to our aunts, uncles, cousins, and nephews – we all shower Sam with something more.

Now I understand what the extra twinkle in those children’s eyes meant.  Now I understand the source of those smiles and affectionate caresses.

It’s amazing how these seemingly unimportant things come alive later down the road.

One of the most difficult parts of having a child with special needs in the family is having to deal not with the problem itself but the complication of having to deal with other people. This is especially true here in the Philippines where majority of the people are so uneducated when it comes to this kind of thing. Even in my family time and again I have had to gently and sometimes not so gently needed to correct people because of hurtful ways they’ve referred to to sufferers of various ailments and disorders. If I were to focus on the vast numbers of ignorant people who have no idea on how to react and deal when faced with something different I surely would get upset. If I do focus though on the fact that I have never met a person who I’ve talked and explained things to that didn’t respond in a positive manner despite the discomfiture then I should and would feel more encouraged knowing that this problem IS solvable. It isn’t easy and right now educating people is more of a “one person at a time” approach but each and every person is a vessel for transmitting knowledge, a vessel for change. I might just be watching Obama too much but heck if it puts me in this mood I should watch him more often. ^_^

Some Mothers Get Babies With Something More
By: Lori Borgman
Columnist and Speaker

My friend is expecting her first child. People keep asking what she wants. She smiles demurely, shakes her head and gives the answer mothers have given throughout the pages of time. She says it doesn’t matter whether it’s a boy or a girl. She just wants it to have ten fingers and ten toes.

Of course, that’s what she says. That’s what mothers have always said.

Mothers lie.

Truth be told, every mother wants a whole lot more. Every mother wants a perfectly healthy baby with a round head, rosebud lips, button nose, beautiful eyes, satin skin and straight feet. Every mother wants a baby so gorgeous that people will pity the Gerber baby for being flat-out ugly.

Every mother wants a baby that will roll over, sit up and take those first steps right on schedule. Every mother wants a baby that can see, hear, run, jump and fire neurons by the billions. She wants a kid that can smack the ball out of the park and do toe points that are the envy of the entire ballet class.

Call it greed if you want, but we mothers want what we want.

Some mothers get babies with something more.

Some mothers get babies with conditions they can’t pronounce, a spine that didn’t fuse, a missing chromosome, a palette that didn’t close or a tiny crooked foot or two. Most of those mothers can remember the time, the place, the shoes they were wearing and the color of the walls in the small, suffocating room where the doctor uttered the words that took their breath away. It felt like recess in the fourth grade when you didn’t see the kick ball coming and it knocked the wind clean out of you.

Some mothers leave the hospital with a healthy bundle, then, months, even years later, take him in for a routine visit, or schedule her for a well check, and crash head first into a brick wall as they bear the brunt of devastating news. It can’t be possible! That doesn’t run in our family. Can this really be happening in our lifetime?

I am a woman who watches the Olympics for the sheer thrill of seeing finely sculpted bodies. It’s not a lust thing; it’s a wondrous thing. The athletes appear as specimens without flaw – rippling muscles with nary an ounce of flab or fat, virtual powerhouses of strength with lungs and limbs working in perfect harmony. Then the athlete walks over to a tote bag, rustles through the contents and pulls out an inhaler.

As I’ve told my own kids, be it on the way to physical therapy after a third knee surgery, or on a trip home from an echo cardiogram, there’s no such thing as a perfect body. Every body will bear something at some time or another. Maybe the affliction will be apparent to curious eyes, or maybe it will be unseen, quietly treated with trips to the doctor, medication or surgery. The health problems our children have experienced have been minimal and manageable, so I watch with keen interest and great admiration the mothers of children with serious disabilities, and wonder how they do it.

Frankly, sometimes you mothers scare me. How you lift that child in and out of a wheelchair 20 times a day. How you monitor tests, track medications, regulate diet and serve as the gatekeeper to a hundred specialists yammering in your ear. I wonder how you endure the clichés and the platitudes, well-intentioned souls explaining how God is at work when you’ve occasionally questioned if God is on strike. I even wonder how you endure schmaltzy pieces like this one — saluting you, painting you as hero and saint, when you know you’re ordinary. You snap, you bark, you bite. You didn’t volunteer for this, you didn’t jump up and down in the motherhood line yelling, “Choose me, God. Choose me! I’ve got what it takes.” You’re a woman who doesn’t have time to step back and put things in perspective, so, please, let me do it for you. From where I sit, you’re way ahead of the pack. You’ve developed the strength of a draft horse while holding onto the delicacy of a daffodil. You have a heart that melts like chocolate in a glove box in July, carefully counter-balanced against the stubbornness of an Ozark mule. You can be warm and tender one minute, and when circumstances require, intense and aggressive the next. You are the mother, advocate and protector of a child. You’re a neighbor, a friend, a stranger I pass at the mall. You’re the woman I sit next to at church, my cousin and my sister-in-law.

You’re a woman who wanted ten fingers and ten toes, and got something more.

You’re a wonder.

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