When Jon & I got married, I always pictured having a little girl. I thought she'd look just like me, and that she would be sweet with a little spice. I wondered if she'd be on math team like me, or in marching band like Jon. I wondered if she'd be "cool," if she'd be "smart"; I wondered what she would accomplish. I didn't picture her in the "in" crowd, but she wasn't an outcast either - she would have a small group of solid friends. I hoped she'd grow up to be a decent adult, who would steer clear from drugs and alcohol problems, who wouldn't be too boy crazy, and who would have a strong sense of self. Yet I kind of pictured her being a little insecure.
When we found out during pregnancy that there was a good chance that our little girl would have Down syndrome, I thought it best to throw all my expectations, hopes, worries, and dreams, out the window. I found myself completely in love with the baby growing inside me; but I let myself believe that we were no longer going to experience the typical things with this kid. It didn't bother me (in fact I think I've loved her more because of it), but I adopted the attitude of "whoever she is, I love her no matter what." Which is a great sentiment, but I think I short changed her a little.
Lucky for me, Lilly was born with great dreams of her own. This kid has ambition. She has charisma. She has style, she is truly confident, she is beautiful inside and out. (She also has somewhat of an ego, but she is the kind of person who makes you feel good about yourself as well, so you don't hate her as much for all her strengths!) She is sure of herself, knows what she wants, and knows how to get what she wants.
A few people recently emailed me the story on cnn about a girl with DS in Texas who recently became homecoming queen at her high school. I recently heard about two other young adults with DS who were voted prom king - this year! Pre-DS, I would never have thought my "typically developing" child would accomplish something like this. She'd be lucky if she were invited to homecoming! (As I found it hard myself to get a date each year!) And in the early months of knowing about DS, I wondered if my child would even attend a typical high school, let alone participate in extra-curricular events. But since getting to know this little princess that sleeps in the room next to mine, I've realized that she is not one to be underestimated. If anyone ever had it in her to accomplish something like this, Miss Lillian Grace Sherman has the poise, confidence, beauty, and charisma to wow an entire school.
Which is not to say that this is the be-all and end-all of life; I feel secure in myself that I wasn't the coolest kid in high school! (Although I feel pretty cool these days in the Facebook world!) And as always, whatever Lilly accomplishes, I love her completely and support her 100%. But the lesson she (and countless other individuals who have an extra chromosome) has taught me, is that the dreams of what she will accomplish are HER dreams. They are not mine. And her dreams, I now realize, are bigger than any I could have ever imagined - no matter what they are!