So this week we had a bit of excitement. There is a blog that we follow, and I believe I have mentioned it before, called Happy Soul Project. It’s a blog by a mum not unlike myself. She actually has two beautiful children, and one of them, Pip, happens to have Down Syndrome. I will warn you that if you click on the link to her website, you may fall in love with the entire family. You will definitely peruse all her photos of her “hooligans” and admire how darn beautiful they are!
So anyway. We have been reading HSP for a while. Since Thatcher was about two months old. Truth be told, before then I wasn’t ready. My aunt had sent me the link, and told me to check it out, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to admit that I might be like this other mum. I didn’t want to admit that Thatcher had Down Syndrome and that this was something we would be dealing with for the rest of our life. I knew he did, and I was working on it, but I was taking it day by day, and I really wasn’t ready to get a glimpse into the life that we would have in the future. It was just too much.
So around October I started peeking in on the blog. Pip’s mama, Tara, takes AMAZING photos of her kidlets and is exceedingly positive and down to earth. So I started reading up about when Pip was born, and following them on Facebook. I made Devin (hubby) follow them too, and we loved seeing the new pictures that Tara would post pretty much daily. We would talk about how sweet her kids were and some of the topics she would post.
And then a few months ago, one of them really hit home. Tara had gone to pick up her son, Noal, from daycare, and brought Pip along. A little girl came up to Tara and Pip, who was wearing her eye patch, and said, “That baby is broken.” My heart broke reading that. It absolutely grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I thought about our future, not for the first time, but for the first REAL time, the first time that I would seriously realize what we were going to go through. And I knew that something similar will, one day, happen to Thatcher. It might not be a little kid, it might not be the same words, but it will happen. It could be an old lady looking at him in a grocery store with a funny look on her face, or a kid in his class pushing him and calling him names, or an extended family member making assumptions about what he can or can’t do. But somewhere, someday, he is going to be judged for how he appears, for his extra chromosome, and there is nothing I can do about it. It broke my heart. I started reading more of Tara’s blogs, because I felt like she has been through things that I have in store for me in the future, and could offer guidance into what I was going to encounter.
And then, in January, this post appeared. Basically, Tara was with Pip in a grocery store, and a woman approached her and was admiring Pip’s obvious cuteness. Then she leaned in and asked, “but what’s wrong with her?” Now, Tara has a lot more poise than I ever could, because all she said was “absolutely nothing,” and she walked away. I can’t say how I’d react in that circumstance, but I’d either cry or scream or, more than likely, both. But again, it made me realize that Thatch is going to be judged on his appearance his whole life… it really made me want to start taking steps to educate people more about Down Syndrome, so that even if people see Thatcher and his DS, they will know more about it and won’t be so afraid of it. I want people to know that Thatcher is going to grow up to be a strong, smart, independant man who can do whatever he wants to. I don’t want people to think something is “wrong” with him, but instead see who he is, not what he is or what diagnosis he may have.
Anyway, to make a long story short(er), the story about the grocery store went absolutely viral. Tara took photos of Pip beside a sign that says “What makes you different is what makes you beautiful” and of course, it was a huge hit. Newspapers and TV stations started picking up the story, and it even made it to the Huffington Post. So I wasn’t surprised when she posted that Global News (a station in Toronto) was doing a story on their family and Happy Soul Project. They were looking for another family with a child who had Down Syndrome to be part of the story.
I got a few emails from family and friends telling me that we should apply, but Devin was working that day, and with my maternity leave pay not being phenomenal, we really couldn’t afford to drive down to Toronto for the day, so I told them I couldn’t. However, it kept niggling at me that I wanted to send a message to Tara wishing her luck and letting her know how much Happy Soul Project has meant to our family over the past few months. So I threw an email her way and forgot about it for a few days.
Last Wednesday, a friend and I took our kids swimming, and when I got home and checked my phone I had a few emails waiting. I checked my inbox, and there was an email from Tara letting me know she needed to talk to me ASAP. Turns out she had sent all her emails to Global, and they had chosen us as the family they wanted to include in her story! Of course I immediately told Devin that we had to move our schedules around, and gave her a huge “Yes!”
So Tuesday we headed down to Toronto to meet Tara, Noal, and Pip. I’m pretty sure my family was bursting with excitement, everybody wanted me to give Pip a hug for them. Honestly she is a huge celebrity in my family! I was so flipping nervous about everything, but Tara was honestly remarkably down to earth. It was super weird being asked by a reporter what I thought about Tara, while Tara is in the room and I just met her ten minutes ago. Also, if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m not very concise and I have a hard time getting my point across. Also, I cry easily, and the reporter knew exactly how to touch on that so I cried for 95% of the time I talked to her. Whoops. So if there is ten seconds of me in the entire story, I will be surprised. It’s really shocking that I went to school for radio and television presentation back in the day, because I’m honestly TERRIBLE on camera.
But anyway. It was really flipping cool to get to meet someone that we are so inspired by. And to have Thatcher and Pippy get to meet each other and have hugs! So cool! I am so psyched to see the story on the news and get to tell Thatcher when he is older that he got to be a part of something so amazing. I absolutely hope that Tara and Pip’s story continues to spread like wildfire. She is doing so much to help raise awareness about Down Syndrome and all the wonderful things about our kids, rather than having people see them as disabled or sick or just a kid with Down Syndrome. Our kids are phenomenal little people who are going to change the world and do amazing things. I can’t wait to see all the things that Thatcher accomplishes in his lifetime.
Oh, and if y’all wanna see my little bird’s TV debut, it’s on Global News on Monday evening. I will be taping it to start the collection of memorabilia of all the fantastic things he does in his life ❤