A Birthday Letter to my Daughter
I’m sharing this letter to my daughter, as October is Down syndrome Awareness Month.
Happy Birthday, my sweet Sofia! It’s hard to believe you are nine years old. Nine! I find myself saying that time flies, but I know that those nine years have been rich with so many blessings, joys and much learning.
I remember when I first held you. You were wrapped so tight in that hospital blanket and on your head was a cream knit cap tied with a pink ribbon. Your body was struggling to regulate your temperature. So, the nurse asked if I wanted to hold you to keep you warm or have her lay you in the little warming bed. She needn’t have asked; I couldn’t wait to hold you close. You were so tiny. You seemed so fragile, like a china teacup, your features so delicate. I held you close to my body, willing my warmth to you, as you lay asleep in my arms. Then, you opened your eyes and looked up at me with those stunningly blue eyes. You looked straight into my heart, Sofia, and it melted. Then, you smiled. And, nothing could have been sweeter.
There was so much fear in the beginning, when you were still in my belly. Concerns over health, love and acceptance. On the day you were born, the fear wasn’t there, just the excitement of finally meeting you face to face. I wish I could go back and convey to my pregnant mama self that the moment I held you, all of the joy I felt would multiply a hundredfold and my heart would nearly burst.
Spending time with you I simply felt – joy – and still do. There really is no other way to describe it, just bounding joy. The kind that makes you want to shout for all to hear, “Do you know how good this is?”
In the time you’ve been in my life, I’ve learned so much from you and because of you. All these things, perhaps, I’d never have learned if you hadn’t come into my life. I’ve learned that it’s quite possible to have more determination in one tiny pinky finger like yours, than in all the might of a five-ton elephant. And that kind of determination can change your world. With that determination, you continue to grow, learn, and thrive. This was proven true as you first learned the things all babies do: sitting, crawling, walking, and talking. And now, you’re reading and writing, and conquering spelling tests, math, the occasional rain puddle and so much more.
It’s as if you’ve inherited into your little body the philosophy of your Nona, who constantly told me when I was your age – “Never say never.” Don’t ever tell yourself you can’t. Try. And try again. And try again, and again, and again. Until one day, you find yourself across the finish line of whatever race you’re running and realize you’ve arrived. You’ve done it. You’ve overcome.
Never say never.
I’ve learned that everyday since the day you were born. And I’ve realized that my ideas of what can be have been so off; I’m ashamed to say. Everyday, you shatter ideas I’ve held about what is possible…for all of us. Only God knows where you’ll end up, little one, who isn’t so little anymore, but is a beautiful young lady of nine years. I can only guess that it will, indeed, be wonderful.
Sure, there have been some hurdles to overcome. Everybody faces hurdles in life. But, not everybody overcomes them. Some give up. Not you, little girl. You face them down. We’ve faced them down together. And in doing so, you’ve become stronger…and so have I.
Your faith in the One who loves you seems unshakeable. Some might call it childlike. But, isn’t that the point? To trust and believe that the God who calls us into relationship with Him loves us so much that He always hears, always helps and is always available to His daughters and sons. The number of times you’ve reminded me, “God’s with us, Mama” and told me, “God will help. He loves you.” You speak these words back to me and I remember that I don’t need to figure it all out, I simply need to believe like you, sweet girl. And your desire and excitement to talk with God in prayer, well, it makes my heart smile.
The odd thing about having your ideas shattered is that you realize they are just that – ideas. Not fact. Not reality. And you come to know that it’s in the ‘not knowing’ that life becomes an adventure filled with moments of discovery. And upon discovering the good, which is “beyond what we could ever ask or imagine,” there is unspeakable joy.
You have taught me so. Thank you, beautiful girl. I’m so proud to call you my daughter.
Now, let’s eat cake!