Thursday, September 27, 2012

what are you hoping for


 "What are you hoping for?"

It's a question I've been asked a hundred times during my pregnancies over the years. For the most part my answer was always the same- a healthy baby. Even if I was secretly hoping for a girl - ten years ago today I was indeed thrilled to deliver my second girl after having given birth to five boys - I would still reply with the standard line: "we just want a healthy baby."


It was as if I thought I was jinxing my chances for having a healthy baby if I said what I really wanted- a little sister for Mackenzie, or another boy because I'm so partial to baby blue. So I'd state my one requirement, an answer to a question, and a little prayer to God...a healthy baby, that's all I'm hoping for.



And isn't that what we all hope for anyway? A baby without defects, one who arrives in life without any challenges, perfect by medical standards at least, even if they don't end up on the next Gerber baby ad.

Because who hopes for a baby with a syndrome?






And right up there with that spoken hope - the one for a healthy baby- was my unspoken one. The one that wanted my babies to be smart. Of course they didn't have to grow up to be geniuses, but definitely somewhere in the "above average" zone. I wanted my kids to be the best at whatever they set their minds to, I wanted them to excel in life and to learn well. "Gifted" "talented" and "bright" - those were words I wanted my children associated with. Never in my prayers or hopes or dreams did I imagine that "mild to moderate cognitive delays" or "learning impaired" were phrases someone might use to describe my child.




And perhaps hidden even deeper in that list of things hoped for- maybe buried underneath the avalanche of universal wishes for one's baby, such as blond hair or blue eyes or her Daddy's smile - I wanted her to be able to read. 


Not quite as profound a wish as others, maybe a little bit more specific than hoping she'd do well in school- I wanted her to share my passion for books. From the time I was old enough to hold them in my hands, books have been my best friends. They've opened up new worlds to me, they've taken me to places I'll probably never physically go, and if life ever gets so overwhelming that I want to scream, I have a proven fail-safe method for de-stressing: go curl up in the corner with a good book.


So when Lily was born, in the midst of all the little dreams I tucked away in a box called "do not open again" was one that I really thought had died ~ reading. I wrote about it, cried about it, and I honestly believed this one little hope was something I had to deliberately let go of.


But Lily....


...has a mind of her own.

And thankfully she hasn't been hindered by any low expectations on her Mama's part. Because just like all of her older siblings, she has a love - no - a PASSION for books.




She loves her baby dolls, her toy house, her fake cell phone and her purses, but a dozen times a day, on any given day, Lily gravitates to her books. She turns the pages slowly and carefully, she "reads" the words out loud to herself, "lalalalalala", the cadence of her voice changing as the story unfolds. She points to pictures and laughs at them, holds the book up for us to see, reads each one from cover to cover and starts over again. She takes her siblings by the hand and pulls them over to the couch, hands them one of her favorite stories and climbs up onto their laps to read. There isn't a day that goes by that Lily doesn't lose herself in one of her books, and when she's sad or sick or- yes, I'll say it, stressed -  she's found the cure that works for Mama, and curling up in the corner with a good book works for her too.




I don't have any doubt that Lily will one day learn to read. Because I peeked into that dream box - the one labeled "do not open again" - and to my amazement, it was empty. Along with so many hopes I had quietly hidden away there, the dream that she'd share my love for books is now becoming a reality. The very things I thought she couldn't or wouldn't do are what our days are made of, and it's a wonderful thing to behold.



 The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt



23 comments:

Sharon Edwards said...

Reading was one of the most important things on my list of things I wanted my girls to do. I just wanted them to be able to turn to books when they were sad or lonely or if they just wanted to go to that make believe place in a good book -- like I enjoy doing at the end of a long day. I wanted to be able to share the books that I loved as a child with them and watch them love some of the same books that I loved. I didn't know if that would ever happen but it did. Sarah and Caroline both read and enjoy books -- on a much lower reading level than other kids their age but every year they improve their skills so keep that dream of Lily reading.

Kerin T said...

I love this post! As an avid reader, I've always hoped that my children would follow in my footsteps. Books are an amazing escape and a wonderful way to learn all about things we might never know otherwise.

Levi is only 15 months old, but he already shows a lot of interest in books, especially his favorite ones with lots of pictures for labeling objects. He's typically a very quiet child, but looking at books is one of the few times he becomes verbally more active. I'm so excited to think that perhaps he will enjoy reading as much as his siblings - maybe even his mama!

Runningmama said...

Beautiful Patti...just like your little girl :-)

The Graham Family said...

Tears Patti! Such a gift, that little girl of yours. Isn't it funny how they take your fears and just shatter them to pieces. Love the last photo with the pencil and notebook. :)

Mommy dearest said...

Patti, I had many of the same fears about Phoenix and I am so, so happy that she loves books too! How lovely that Lilly turned out to be just like you:)

Erin Beaudette said...

I hope a mom or dad receiving a new diagnosis will find this post. It is so beautiful, with insight of experience and full of hope (which ALL parents of newborns need)!

eliz said...

My MA is 55 years old. She reads, does math problems and for 6 years she lived independently in her own apartment in the community while I helped her. She even won our city's first Citizenship Award for her participation in the community. She worked part time independently for 15 years! She moved back in with us as her health became an issue. She now has signs of dementia. But every night when I can't get her to go to bed...........she has her light on and she's reading!! LOL!!
Because of MA and our Susie who lived with us 16 years before Jesus came for her, I did want a baby with DS. I know, I'm crazy. At 47 I thought for sure my Isaiah would have DS.
God did bless me with many children and adults with DS in my life, each one made me a better person. :o)
Lily you go girl! You will read and write and do anything your heart desires!
MA thinks you are adorable!

Naomi Rice said...

I love how you talked about the box being empty :) and also that last picture melts my heart! You are a very gifted writer also wish you'd give me lessons!!

cara said...

This is such a meaningful post to me Patti, especially being pregnant and getting asked those questions about whether I want a boy or a girl, etc. I know that whole scenario.

I love to see Lily's heart for books. I always tell my children that if they can read, they can learn anything. My two oldest kids are really good readers. And I can tell that my six year old is following right behind them. But my nine year old struggles with his reading skills, and it just has not completely clicked yet. He can read, but it does not come effortless at this point for him. So, I am having him read the Bible and praying for God's Spirit to help him read. He believes he is called to be a pastor one day, and he keeps asking me how he can do this if he can't read or spell. Breaks my heart. I tell him that he can read and God will help him as he keeps practicing, and God will give him everything he needs to do God's WIll in his life whatever that is.

Benji also loves books, and he also loves to bring us books and sit on our laps and have us read and read to him. What a blessing it is to be able to do that!!

These pictures are priceless of Lily. She has a wonderful grasp on that pencil.

Jacquelyn said...

One of my best friends has Ds, she's a light! And she reads, constantly!! Sometimes I will go over to spend the day, and she won't even say a word, she just expects that I'll grab a good book and join her in a cozy corner to read the day away :) my sisters and I all have agreed we will have children (via adoption if we don't by birth) with Ds because of Elyn's influence. Her nickname is Rosie, so Lily's name made me grin when I came across your blog. Your Lily is beautiful and has such potential!!

Danielle said...

Very sweet post. LOVE LOVE LOVE the pictures. She is so stinkin cute. I'm loving the Instagram daily doses!!
xoxo Lils!

Leah said...

Well said my friend

lovemy3 said...

I love when our "do not open" box is empty because our little ones have exceeded our expectations! Love the pics of Lily as always!

Elizabeth said...

Lily is amazing! As Dr. Seuss wrote - 'Oh the places you'll go!'

Mrs. K said...

Patti, tell Cara I once read an article about a Pastor of a well attended church who did not know how to read. He was a very well loved Pastor. His wife would read the Bible passages he wished to base his sermons on and he would have her read them over and over until he memorized them to preach the next day. His church members never knew he could not read. Try as he might he could not get his hands around the written word but that did not stop him.

Love to my little "bookworm".

Crystal said...

I am totally with you; I always prayed my babies would love books and reading, too. And thankfully, like yours, God answered that prayer! Go Lily!

EN said...

Well, I'm here to disprove the notion that we all hope for a baby who is perfect by medical standards :-) I special ordered one with an extra chromosome because I was already privy to the secret "perfection" that comes with a chromosomally enhanced baby. And I love how you make it your daily mission to share this secret with the masses. Of course Miss Lily will read! If you're lucky, maybe someday she'll write you funny emails like Aunt Leanne does :-)

Rochelle said...

Totally agree, super glad my girls love books and are beginning to read. Lily will be an early reader for sure.

Ginger Clark said...

This is very interesting. I have heard lots of friends say they just want a healthy baby and never thought for a minute they meant a baby without a syndrome. I have always thought it meant: not a sick baby, a baby who will live.

As far as reading goes, I have had to give up that idol. My older adoptees have had a 5 year (so far) struggle to read fluently. My oldest adoptee has been in a teen book club w/ our homeschool group for the past 2 years. We get her an audiobook for each classic they read. I've realized as long as she can listen and understand God's Word, what else matters?

Kelly Marin said...

Love the little bookworm! Love to read too! And you know what? I'm trying to impart my love of reading to my kids too, and even though i've raised my children in the library lol so far 2 possibly a 3rd are book lovers like me, so its something deep within God puts inside

cara said...

Glad I came back. Thank you for the encouragement Mrs. K!!!! I will have to tell J.J. because he really worries about this. I know it will bless him. God will use us and equip us however He chooses. Thank you!

Ilisa Ailts said...

what a doll!!!

Jane@flightplatformliving said...

adore this! you are making me cry here!! Tilly recently scored at age appropriate for her reading!!! not bad when we were told she may never talk and indeed she didn't till she was 5!! i love our kids Patti, aren't we so blessed! xxxxx