Pity: Party of Two
To be pitied is to feel inferior, or so I previously assumed. In the earliest moments of this journey, I feared the stigma of Down syndrome would cause an onslaught of unwelcomed sympathy. I assumed my impulse would be to meet such consolations with defensiveness, therefore, I eluded the possible occurrence by driving the majority of conversations.
Back when it had been a mere ‘possibility’ of the girls having Trisomy 21, we became aware of the faulty supposition regarding our emotional response. The notion being sold is that our babies are broken. That we should mourn the loss of having 'normal children'. Concern has oozed from the faces of good, kind, yet mistaken people. I want to reach out and let them feel my steadiness. Please, I'd ask them, stop waiting for me to shatter. The only thing in need of repair here, is the idea that to have Down syndrome is to be less.
Three months: that is how long it took to receive my first flat out apology concerning Nettie and Lottie’s extra chromies. I could taste sympathy drizzled over words of solice. There was ample hesitation as Down syndrome was gently and indirectly referred to as an affliction. Well intended, heartfelt dialogue of concern and sensitivity, was barfed upon me, just as I had foreseen. Though, the feelings reciprocated within me were not disgruntled or indignant after all.
There is a stark dichotomy between the joy we have felt and the grieving that others assume the diagnosis has put us through. Although I once feared misplaced empathy, in the moment of receiving this apology, it was actually I who felt pity.
My initial preconceptions had been flawed. With my pity, I felt no superiority. I felt the urge to comfort, without a trace of judgment. As a mother assures their child who fears having their hair cut, I wanted to subdue their concern for my heart. Watch, my darling, it doesn't hurt. There is no pain here. Differences are not death. Far opposite from regret and remorse, we are brimming with happiness and wholeness, mixed with fatigue. Shout out to my coffee pot!
The occurrence of Down syndrome is to be celebrated. We preach a contemporary love of uniqueness, individuality, bravery, and diversity, so why the pity in the face of just that? As with all things delicious, DS is worth gathering people around to enjoy collectively. Come exchange lovely observatons and smiles, and withhold the consolations. Let’s blast truth like music and dance crazy because this is a party, but give or take, it is not one of pity.