It happened for the first time last night.
My first encounter with wondering what people think about you. Up until this point I have been so consumed with loving you, and wanting to show you off to everyone, that I have never watched to "see" if anyone notices you have Down syndrome.
All of our friends and family already know. And when we're out and about, all I've ever heard people comment on is how cute you are. If anyone has ever observed that you have ds, they have never said anything.
Last night we were at someones house for a graduation party. You had a little bit of sunburn under your eyes, and it had faded to a light brown...it looks unnatural on a baby, so I kept explaining to everyone that Mama had put sunscreen everywhere but directly around your eyes. I didn't want you to rub it into your eyes and irritate them. You wore a big floppy hat and stayed for the most part under your canopy in your carseat while we were at a pool this weekend. But the pool water must have reflected up onto your little face and caused a slight burn.
So Mackenzie was holding you last night, and showing you off to the other teenagers. I don't know if it was the sunburn...or if this was the first time one of the teen boys had seen you...but he was staring open mouthed at you...and the look on his face made me rush over to Kenz and scoop you out of her arms. I mumbled something about her holding you all slouched over.
But the truth was, I didn't want to watch that boy staring at you anymore.
And honestly, I don't know what he was thinking. Maybe he was just looking at your sunburn. Maybe he was not really thinking about anything, maybe he just happened to have that look on his face when I glanced his way.
But at that moment, all I could think was- he is staring at Lily and wanting to know what a baby with Down syndrome looks like.
And I felt nauseous and protective and hurt, and I wanted to- God forgive me- slap that look off his face and leave that party and take you home with me, home to where you are loved and adored and accepted.
I have never felt such rage and indignation like that, and I honestly don't know if it was justified or not.
But it is making me wonder- will I feel that way again some day? Will I see a stranger gazing at you...with pity or curiosity, or some other undeserved emotion, and want to hurt them the way they're hurting me?
Because really, it will be me hurting. I hope with all my heart you will never be aware of some people's inadequacy to deal with people who are different.
Hopefully I will grow. Hopefully I will learn to toughen up a little..a lot... and learn to not care what others think. To focus on how many people love you, and are praying for you, and realize that some people are just ignorant. And some people don't mean you harm, they are just shallow.
God, help me to not care. Help me to forgive, and keep my heart right towards people, and to fight that instinct to retreat to the safety of seclusion.
I could be totally wrong about that boy. I hope I am.
My dear friend Denise told me about wanting to run people over with her daughter Jen's wheelchair the first few years of taking her out in public in it. She said these horrible thoughts would come to her mind, and it was everything she could do not to turn and stare back at those people and shout "What are you looking at?!" But one day- she doesn't even know when- she stopped noticing the looks. It wasn't until she looked back on that time, when she realized - people didn't change- she changed. She didn't care what people thought anymore. She didn't even think about what people were thinking. Jen was Jen, and people could think whatever they wanted.
I want to be there. I'm going to pray to get there.
You are so perfect to me, and I know deep down, it doesn't really matter what anybody thinks. You are beautiful and perfect, and you are our Lilybird.
And that's all that really matters.
Loving you forever,