Relatives and the Art of Relating
Fact: our family rocks. From the immediate to the extended, we could not ask for more. Cody and I bathe in their love and support. Relatives have stepped up, helped out, and come through time and time again. However, even on the A-squad tension can emerge. Although super, each member remains human, packaged with weaknesses and imperfections. When these weaknesses impact the acceptance of your child, now that is the plight of a parent.
Majority of both our family and friends dote upon Nettie and Lottie to a degree measuring somewhere roughly between adoration and smothering. Nonetheless, there remain a few whom have, six months in, yet to make an appearance. Upon questioning, we were told this dearth was a byproduct of personal ‘discomfort’. Excuse me?
We, the parents, sit awkwardly with this deliberate absence. I wade through thick waters of emotion, trying to rightly process the situation with respect and discernment. Coming against me is a natural reflex of disappointment, hurt, and protectiveness. How to be honest, empathetic, and promote unity in such a precarious dry land?
Be it unease concerning medical interventions, disorders, illness, ethnic contrast, or enhanced chromosomal acquisition (I just made that up), when a family member places your child outside their scope of ‘comfort’, it hits a momma's heart hard. Yet as with all trials, this hurt comes with a lesson in extending grace, and staying engaged in relationships. Easier said than done from an emotion drenched, sleep deprived, passionate position of a mother.
One thing I am learning about Down syndrome; the people, journey, and culture, are all firmly rooted in truthfulness. To follow suite, honesty and transparency are what I offer, to those blood related or not. Perhaps my words are an echo of what is on your own heart for a loved one to hear.
Shame on you.
Oops, let me try again.
You are making a dire sacrifice. In choosing to distance yourself from my children, you may avoid personal discomfort, but at a great cost. Your growth remains stagnant and your security false. You are self-deprived of a connection to what is marvelous. By deterring efforts to expand your understanding, you fall victim to the ceaseless progression of time. You are electing to forfeit an opportunity to witness, and partake in a masterpiece unfolded.
Previously offended, I now consider your perspective. As I reflect on what fear has already stolen from you, I realize my indignation was misplaced. All that remains is a sadness for your deficit of joy in knowing these girls. My heart brakes for you.
I prefer a present person to a perfect one. If you take away one word from this message, let it be: come. There is always a seat for you at our table. When you arrive we can be brave and honest, washing off the sludge of discomfort and timidity. Let’s offer each other grace and let that be our common ground.
Situations such as this force me to consider my multifaceted role as mother, advocate, and family member. I strain my goals from a simmering pot of sentiments. This time, I caution myself to remember that as a parent, I must never discard respect amidst hurt, regardless of justification. Removing all pedestals, I remember that our family members are human; prone to fear, occasionally governed by selfishness, and in constant need of grace. Thankfulness and honor flood me for my front row seat to the magical production of watching my children share their beauty with the world. I will continue to offer the adjacent seat to anyone who wishes to join. Like I said, just come.