The day this little girl was born, I cried. I cried because my 31 week preemie was here safely. Then I cried because my husband walked in and told me her diagnosis. We didn’t expect a little bundle with Down Syndrome, but we received one of the cutest.
I have other children too, and so many times I get frustrated when a stranger will point out my “special” daughter (I do believe, however, that both of my daughters are special), and they’ll start asking questions about her. There was one stranger at Costco, years ago, that stopped me and asked about all of my other children before they asked about Tullie and what her needs were. I so appreciated that, and I think my other children did too, but today, I’m going to talk about Tullie, because she did something today that caught my eye and it wasn’t anything unusual.
We were cleaning up breakfast this morning, and I told Tullie to grab her math book and blocks and start her school work. I turned around from the sink and saw Tullie grab her math book and then reach up on her tiptoes for the box of blocks for her counting. She then sat down at the table, opened up her book and did the next two pages. Drew the lines between her numbers to separate her columns, because we are doing carrying in addition, added each column, did each problem, then turned the page, read the word problems and solved them.
It’s not an amazing feat. It’s not life changing or earth shattering. She didn’t solve any world problems, or settle an argument between her siblings, she simply did her math work on her own.
These last few weeks, I have noticed how much she has grown. How mature she has gotten. She still loves Frozen and Shopkins and will happily play dress-up with anyone, but she has also grown so much more independent, sweet, kind, loving and is developing into a very beautiful young lady.
When babies are born, we are aware that they will grow, but it’s AMAZING that they do grow. When those babies who are “special” are born, we assume that we will be stuck in “baby” forever. Everything will be slow and they will learn to add numbers when they are 35 and maybe graduate from high school when they are 60. The unknowns are insane and those first hours, days and years are intimidating because everything IS slow and overwhelming and hard and you’re dealing with the unexpected, but then we look up from the kitchen sink one day and notice a young lady, who served herself breakfast, dressed herself, put on her glasses, brushed her teeth, is reading everything in sight, cleaned her room, dusted, looks both ways to cross the street, can gather eggs from the chicken coop and will happily empty the dishwasher and put everything away in it’s place.
When we receive the unexpected we expect the worse, we don’t often expect the best. When Tullie showed up the first thing that popped in my head was, “Crap! She’s gonna live with us forever.” Now, I don’t think I’d mind that too much. She is the sweetest and most giving.
Tullie has taught me patience. She has taught me how to be gracious. She has taught me how to be kind. She has taught me how to love. She has taught me how to accept life as it comes. She has taught me how to respect others. She has taught me the Gospel. I wish that everyone got a Tullie. I think that the world would be kinder and more gentle.
Many times in those early years, people told me, “Jesus knows what He’s doing putting Tullie with you,” and when I heard that I would sneer in my heart. I’d get mad, because I didn’t WANT the inconvenience and it seemed cliche to say because they didn’t know what to say. But, Jesus did. He knew what He was doing. He knew what our family needed. He knew that I would need hugs from a sweet girl, when I had tears in my eyes from grief. He knew that I would need to see her gleeful proud-of-herself smile when she was sitting up independently at 10 months old while I sat and watched and played with her while I grieved her brother. He knew that I would need her belly laughs and giggles while we rode in the car. He knew that I needed her quick wit and snuggles while I wept more tears of loss. Jesus knew. He knew what our family would need.
So, today, I looked up and my eyes saw a very beautiful, sweet young lady, and she happens to be ours. For that, I feel very fortunate.