Today is a very important day in my life. My daughter is turning six years old. No words would be good enough to express how much I love this little girl.
Since last week, I started crying thinking about her birthday. You may think I’m nuts. I think so too sometimes. But the truth is that my emotions overtake me when I think about my kids.
People always associate crying with weakness, sadness or disappointment. But gosh, crying is the opposite for me. I only cry when I feel extremely excited, happy or proud. When I’m sad, concerned or frustrated I don’t cry; I instead wear my strength mask. All the rest of the time, when celebrating, my natural reaction is to cry.
Of course since crying is so seldom associated with joy, just imagine a constantly crying mom of a child with Down syndrome! People think I’m crying that I cry because I’m sad for my kids, or that something is missing from my life. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Actually, I’ve gotten more out of life than I ever expected.
When I look at her growing, getting taller and brighter, sometimes I cry because I can’t believe there was a time that I doubted her ability to bring so much joy to our lives. Now I look at her and feel that she’s just perfect! Her worst behaviors and attitudes are tolerable for me, because of course, she’s my daughter. I love her even when she’s having a meltdown or throwing a terrible tantrum. I understand her reasons for getting mad, sad or frustrated. I don’t justify her attitudes, but instead I understand them and help her try to cope with them.
Growing up with challenges of communication and the inability to say all that you want or need to say is not an easy task, so I respect and admire her deep desire to fight hard every day, to try to say what she means and for using her most powerful tool: self-motivation. I’m not sure I’d find the strength she displays every day as she works to become a more able person.
Many times when I’m writing a piece and I stumble over language or vocabulary, I feel like giving up would be easier. English is not my first language; sometimes it’s tough to write and even to talk, but when I think of her I can’t just give up. I have to keep going. She’s my example of determination for success. I owe her that great lesson of evolution and personal growth.
I can only admire her greatness. She doesn’t look or perceive herself like most of her dolls but she loves them and accepts them anyway. Some days ago she said to me that she doesn’t look like “Barbie.” I told her we can look for another doll that looks more like her, but she said, “I like her anyway.” Such a profound statement from such a young brain, and such a beautiful vision of acceptance behind a pair of almond shaped eyes. She seems to see better with them than I do with my big, round “normal” eyes.
And of course I’m crying again. I don’t think I’ve stopped crying since I started writing. But I’m just so proud of her. She always comes and gives me a kiss for every tear. She knows she has taught me to cry from joy.
Happy Birthday, Ayelen. Te amo amor.