Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Just a Mom

It's been a while.

Leah's been great! We still have our struggles, but I couldn't be more proud of my sweetie. 

We've been working on improving her speech and it is kicking our butts!  My peanut tries so hard to tell us what she is thinking.  She has pretty big verbal and sign language vocabularies, but she can't get all of that vocabulary out, and when she does, it is often hard to understand unless I make her slow down and pronounce the words individually. We are still working on increasing her sentence abilities.  Right now, I would say she is consistently using 3-4 word sentences. That's pretty far behind and she works SO hard for those 3-4 words.  If I give her prompts she can say more, but to get a 5 word sentence from her spontaneously, is HUGE!

Leah can read about 50 words.  I'm slacking with her reading.  I really haven't worked on it much in the past 3-4 months.  I really need to get on that.

She is loving dancing!  We switched her to a younger, less structured class and it's just what she needed.  In this class, she has begun to shine!  She can follow the routine, attend to the teachers, and do most of the moves.  Skipping is still a challenge, but jumping, hopping, leaping, running, and shuffling are easy peasy. 

Leah's skills are definitely scattered, but she is such a hard-worker.  She doesn't give up when things are tough- she may yell a little- but she doesn't give up.

I felt the desire to journal today because I had an experience with my twinies, which reminded me why I began journaling to begin with…

…I wanted to share my experience of being Leah's mom.  I wanted to express the good and the bad of being a mama of a kiddo with Down syndrome.  I wanted to be raw with emotion and help the world understand a little better.

I wanted to show that I'm just a mom.

I wanted to show that Leah's just a kid.

I wanted acceptance and love.

I wanted support.

I wanted to share my experiences, so that maybe other parents could learn from them.

So today…

I met with Hannah, Elijah, and their guidance counselor to discuss their schedules for high school. 

Hannah and Elijah will be working on their Associate's in Engineering, while attending high school.  They will have to finish up a couple of classes the summer that they graduate, but by the fall semester they will be juniors  at whatever university they choose to attend. 

I say whatever school they choose to attend pretty confidently.  They will be engineers at 17.  I'm kinda sure that will help them a little… 

If Elijah chooses to serve a mission, he will come home from his mission and be a junior.  It will be like he never left, educationally.

I'm just a little proud. 

But the thing that prompted me to write today is that I am just as proud of Leah and how hard she works to get those 3-4 sentences, as I am of my twins who have exceeded any expectation I have ever had of them.

Those sentences are just as impressive as those degrees.

The twins have the choice of degrees they can pursue.  they can work towards  either and Associate's in Engineering, or an Associate's in Math and Science.

I expressed my concern that the kids get pigeon-holed into one field at such young ages.  Don't get me wrong, I know a degree in anything will only help them in the future, it's just that I don't want them to put in all of this hard work just to start over after they graduate.  For example, if either one of them wanted to be a teacher or a psychologist, how far would an engineering degree get them?  I want their doors to be wide open so they can choose which one will make them happy, not just a path that was laid out in front of them.

I feel the same way about Leah.  I don't want her pigeon-holed into one place because she has delays, any more than I want my twins stuck in one path because they are intelligent.

I want them all to reach their optimum potential and find true happiness in whatever direction they choose to go.

Hannah and Elijah are very blessed with the opportunity they have right now.   This is the first class to ever have this program available to them.

Leah is also very blessed with the opportunities she has right now.  Her generation is one of the first to have so much support offered to them. She is living at a time when her potential is celebrated.

I guess my point is that no matter where your children's abilities are, you love them unconditionally.

Success doesn't make you love them more.

Struggles don't make you love them less.

Your child is yours.  You love them, you fight for them, you care for them, you nurture them, you encourage them, you are impressed by them, you hurt for them, you are proud of them, you celebrate them.

You are their parent.

No diagnosis can ever change that.