We were in the snack aisle when I came across you and your little girl. She was tearing things off the shelves quicker than you could replace them, and your frustration was growing just as fast. When you took the items from her hands and told her to stop, she yelled back at you, “No!”. She ran to your cart then back to you, and I could tell your patience was being stretched.
I wanted to tell you that I have a little girl about your daughter’s age. I wanted to tell you that my daughter has Down syndrome and doesn’t walk yet. If I’m honest, some days I feel like she’ll never walk. I wanted to tell you that I look forward to the day when she exerts her independence and even runs crazy in the store. I wanted to tell you, but I started crying. You left, completely unaware of my tears. But I had so much to say.
Your momentary trials in the throes of toddlerhood should be cherished. You know that in another year, your child will go to a sweet little preschool to prepare for kindergarten, while I’m left wondering if I’ll ever put Emmy in school, terrified that a bully could harm her. Your daughter will go through elementary, middle, and high school with the usual accolades and awards, while I worry that my girl will be the one on the sidelines, always looking on. Your girl will go to college and meet a nice boy and one day she will place your grandchild in your arms. And I have to admit that I can’t clearly see the future for my daughter.
I have beautifully high expectations for Emersyn. I do believe she will go to college and get married. I do believe she has more to contribute to society than I can imagine. She is pure joy, and my life is filled with contentment, laughter, kisses, dancing, and happiness. She is Never a burden. She is Always worth it, and she fills our lives with all that had been missing.
But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
I went home after I saw you and I was rewarded with the tightest hug any itty bitty could give. I kissed her cheeks, because they are so incredibly squishy, and we played until it was time to nap. I held her on my lap and then carried her up to her crib. I kissed her again and put her down, watching her little eyes grow heavy.
During quiet time, I prayed for too many of her precious friends. Several have seizures, one’s going through cancer, one’s starting chemo, one’s recovering from heart surgery. One sweet friend is touching the fingertips of Jesus, while another had taken full grasp of His hand and journeyed home. Their mamas don't get to hold them free of wires. They don't get to play on their floors and sleep in their beds. So much heartache. So much perspective.
It became obvious at that moment that we have more in common than not. Every day is a gift. Every day is a struggle. Every day is another opportunity to do it right and feel blessed. Because you are. Because I am.
If I see you again, I won’t cry. I will tell you about Emmy and that even though she’s not walking, she’s crawling like a maniac. And even though she doesn’t pull things off the shelves, she does go for light sockets and anything breakable. She doesn’t say “No!”, but she has some pretty remarkable tantrums. And though she doesn’t run the supermarket aisles, she runs circles around our hearts.
Yes, we’re more alike than not, you and I. And we’re stronger than we feel.