girl versus the world and her mother
“let’s go around the room and say whether or not we’d abort if we found out we had a child with down syndrome. okay?”
i’m at a book club. only two women in the room know my oldest child. i came because they were reading this book and i was interested to see what they would think. i hadn’t told our story on purpose because i wanted honesty ringing in my ears.
i hadn’t expected this.
i’m in the principal’s office with mazzy and we’re talking about having her start part time at abe’s school next week. we sign the papers and mazzy reads a bit from sugar snow and we discuss what her educational experience has looked like thus far.
“can i ask you a question?” the principal asks.
yes. yes you can.
“do you always talk about mazzy in front of her this way?”
it takes me a minute to understand what she means. but then i see. i’m so matter of fact about down syndrome and her capabilites, where she is lacking and what her strengths are. i speak of her as i speak of myself.
but mazzy is not me.
mazzy is her own person and standing right in front of me is a woman willing to challenge me that maybe i’ve lost sight of that.
when it gets to my turn at the book club, i try to keep up the game and act as if i don’t have a child with down syndrome. so far only one woman has said she wouldn’t abort. everyone else has hesitated for fear of judgement or stopped to explain why they couldn’t handle the responsibility and then said, but yes, they probably would.
i start to talk and say no, no i wouldn’t abort. but my voice cracks a little and i end up crying and i tell them all that i do have a child and how surreal it feels that they are sitting in a circle at their nice book club, drinking wine and talking about whether they’d end the life of a child like mine.
the girl who posed the question is totally embarrassed.
but it doesn’t stop them.
somehow, even after my confession, the circle keeps going around.
the truth hurts sometimes.
i tell the principal my thoughts and i’m crying again.
“i guess when you have a child with a disability, it’s a real temptation to lose your identity in them. i know it’s not good for her and it’s not good for me. bringing her here, trying out this school, is letting go a little for me. but you’re right. she’s getting older and i should think about how i’m speaking in front of her. thank you.”
always when you scratch the surface of my heart is mazzy.
i don’t know all the reasons that i guard her so fiercely. maybe it was that conversation at the book club. maybe it’s fear. maybe it’s a mother’s heart on overdrive.
whatever the reasons are they don’t stop her from turning twelve this month and they don’t stop the world from being the world.
mazzy, blessings on you next week and in this world and in the next.