My last post was about my very special new boy, Baby Nate. He joined his very special older sister, Sarah Kate, as a part of our family on March 13, 2010. Over the past eight weeks since his birth I’ve heard two sentiments expressed over and over again. First, “He has his daddy’s hair!” (absolutely true and hilarious to hear again and again!) and second, “God only gives special children to special parents.” Now I don’t know if that’s just something that people say, or if it really is true, but I’ve heard it so many times now that I’m beginning to think that it’s not just a coincidence and that maybe God is trying to tell me something.
To be honest, I’m a little bit scared (read: terrified) of what being “special” could mean. Is there some Grand Plan that I’m meant to fulfill? Will I recognize it and be able to do it when it comes along? Or does being “special” just mean that there’s something in my personality (like good old fashioned intestinal fortitude) that makes me particularly well-suited to raising two children with special needs? I don’t know the answers, and to be frank, I try not to think about it.
After church this morning, we went to Waffle House for breakfast (my early riser husband has always preferred the earliest church option and has mentioned on a number of occasions that a 5:30 a.m. Mass would suit him just fine). For the past several months, Waffle House was “couple time” after we dropped Sarah Kate off at class (Shhh…that’s a secret we kept from her for months!) Now that class is over until the fall, all four of us went for the first time since Baby Nate was born. Mr. Andi sent me in ahead of him to get a table, and the regular greeter/seater lady, Terri, was there (“2?” – “No, we have the kids today so there are 4 of us.”) As we were finishing up eating, Terri came over to our table – unusual, because she’s typically pretty busy herding the Sunday morning breakfast eaters – to check out the baby. That’s not unusual, as lots of folks are inclined to approach you when you have a new baby, but then Mr. Andi told me to check out her nametag. Attached to the top of it were pictures of her two young sons – one of them has Down syndrome. I then asked her about her son and we chatted for several minutes. She told us that she has the other ladies who work there on “Angel Watch” for kids with Ds (yes, they are Angels Among Us). Her other son is autistic, so she (like me) is a mom with two special children. As we were getting ready to leave, I told Baby Nate to “tell Ms. Terri goodbye” and she looked at him and said “I’ll be watching you as you grow up.”
The thing about the whole exchange with Terri at the Waffle House is that as soon as I heard that she has two children with special needs, my heart overflowed with compassion and I felt an instant kinship with her. I thought to myself “What a special mom she is!” I was also struck by the fact that she came up to speak to us but didn’t mention anything about Down syndrome until I brought it up. She was just a mom connecting with another mom – a mom that had this little thing in common with her. So in that respect, she was just ordinary, like me.
No, I don’t feel special. But I do feel blessed.