Dear Tessa: Happy 6th Birthday

Dear Tessa,

Today is your sixth birthday! I asked you yesterday how come you are getting so big and you just shrugged and told me “because.” Fair enough.

You asked for a birthday party with some of your friends from school this year. If we would have let you, you would have invited everyone in your class. But since mom was flying solo for the party, we had to condense it down to a manageable amount of friends.

Four friends and your little sister gathered at our house to celebrate for an afternoon of activities like a scavenger hunt, cupcake decorating session, lunch, and some outdoor play.

I know days like this can sometimes be overwhelming and, thankfully, your sweet friends understand that for you as well.

Every year I say that I cannot believe you are however many years old. And I really cannot believe it. Time is a bandit, mugging me of your youth. However we are always thankful to be celebrating another trip around the sun; and anxious to see what you will do with the year ahead.

After we got home from dropping your friends off, I laid you down for a rest. Smiling from ear to ear, “I really like my birthday party mom. It was fun.” 

From baby girl to big girl, we have loved watching you grow sweet Tessa Bug.

Happiest of birthdays my dear.

Love, Mom.

WDSD 2017

Today is the 12th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD).  It is a day to celebrate the lives of those born with a third copy of their 21st chromosome, which is why it falls on this day (3/21).

More importantly, it is a day to commemorate the achievements–big and small–of those born with Down syndrome. A day to share that our loved ones with Down syndrome are people with goals and expectations who can greatly contribute to the rest of the world; that their lives are incredibly meaningful and valuable.

March 21 is more than likely an ordinary day for most people, but for those of us living in the Down syndrome community it has been described as a day of celebration.  A celebration of life, love, potential, hope, inclusion and acceptance.  Today we encourage unlimited possibilities in the futures of our children.  We are more proud than ever to share how Down syndrome has touched our lives.  We stand together to remind everyone that we are a strong community based on a sense of togetherness that is moving mountains.

People may honor World Down Syndrome Day in different ways.  Some people wear brightly colored or mismatching socks, while others wear blue and yellow. Some perform random acts of kindness, share videos, photos or blog posts. Some may not acknowledge or celebrate the day any differently.  All of which is just fine.

As for us?  We will be taking blue and yellow treats to my daughter’s annual IEP meeting which happens to fall on WDSD this year.  On a day where inclusion and acceptance takes the global stage, we will be attending an IEP meeting expecting the same for our daughter (thankfully, we are in a place where that happens). How’s that for irony?

Please know what this day may mean to many people out there like me.  Most of us long for the same opportunities for loved ones who carry an extra chromosome–equal opportunities and the chance to show what they are capable of.  A life without boundaries where they are encouraged to dream big and flourish; one where a chromosome does not solely define a being.

Do you know someone carrying an extra chromosome?  Maybe you are a parent, sibling, cousin, teacher or a friend.  If you could tell the world something about the person you know with Down Syndrome, what would it be?

I would say this:  Tessa is a remarkable person.  She is not more or less because she has Down syndrome.  Tessa is genuine, smart and funny; and she has unknowingly taught me a great deal about kindness and compassion.  

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To learn more about World Down Syndrome Day, please visit https://worlddownsyndromeday.org/

You can also make a $21 pledge at Ruby’s Rainbow to help support higher education of young adults with Down syndrome by visiting https://321pledge.org/

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!  

*This post is a collective post of past writings about World Down Syndrome Day on this blog.