Juxtaposition

jux⋅ta⋅po⋅si⋅tion

1.  an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.

2.  the state of being close together or side by side.

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After Charlie was born I never imagined that such a simple, yet wonderful scene would take place between my two boys.  I didn’t necessarily have other scenes playing in my head, but I was certain that anything that fell under the realm of “normal” would no longer be a part of our family.

I was wrong.

Perhaps this was because every authority figure we met early on would repeat ad nauseum a list of all the ways that my son was and would be different.  Yet they never mentioned that he would devour blueberries, adore his big brother, love to dance and have an infectious smile.

Often I’m asked about Down syndrome and more specifically how it separates Charlie from my other sons.  I struggle with this question because it’s hard for me to define what makes Charlie different – how he compares to his brothers.  It’s true that every single cell in his little body is different, yet for the most part he is no different from them.

More often than not, it’s during the small everyday moments with Charlie that I make the best discoveries.  The simple task of eating our breakfast together or reading him stories reveal the sweet truth.  Sure Charlie didn’t walk until he was two {which was the result of Down syndrome}, but he did rollover consistently early on {at two weeks – which was not because of Down syndrome.}  I find it fascinating that the little differences between Charlie and other “normal” children often emerge in little quirky ways and not necessarily great big ones.

And yet I still wonder: How can my son be fundamentally different yet fundamentally the same?

It’s a subject that I find difficult to clearly express even when it’s part of my daily life.  I suppose that’s why so many new parents initially respond with feelings of fear and anxiety when they learn that their child may have Down syndrome.   It also explains why so many families who go on to raise a child with Down syndrome report that their feelings turn to wonder and joy.

And that is why the simple act of two brothers playing in the kitchen – side by side – is enough to make this mama’s heart burst with pride.

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12 thoughts on “Juxtaposition

  1. Libby, I believe there is something very sacred about your writing today. You have perhaps stumbled into the place where God wants us all to live…with acceptance, love and treasuring the value of human life.

  2. Libby – I can’t tell you how much I LOVE these pics!
    From “Choosing Charlie” forward I have marveled at how you embraced God’s choice for your family and have taken, head-on, all the uncertainty, hard work and sacrifice to give them your very best with determination and grace. You are a blessing!

  3. Libby, A beautiful set of pictures. You have a beautiful family. I think I’ve said it before but that doesn’t mean I can’t say it again :)
    It looks like your big boys are cooking up a storm. I love how thay are so involved in their task that you are never noticed or looked at or perhaps you are so commonly taking pictures that don’t even blink anymore LOL

  4. Hello, Libby!
    I’ve been a “lurker” for quite some time now…. Wow, that makes me sound like some kind of a freak…. Anyway, I wanted to let you know how much I admire your strength – of faith, of character, of love. You’re such a wonderful example to ALL women, not just moms and not just mothers of children with Down syndrome. Thanks for putting yourself out there!

    Oh, and where did you get that wooden kitchen set – love it!

  5. dear Libby–How could the boys not be so wonderful when you and Alex are such great parents. It’s a joy to be in this family. Gigi

  6. Libby, I’m relatively new to this blog, but I definitely think this is my favorite post so far. I have a 3 yr. old daughter with ds. I just want you to know that I think you really hit the nail on the head with this explanation. I think it every day – in as much as my daughter is different from her brother and sisters, she is even more the same! I have always been proud of all of my children – every single one of them.

  7. Oh, Libby, I love your blog! I stumbled upon it quite a while ago, and have been addicted ever since. I love your little boys– they are so cute I could just eat them up!

  8. This is a really great post…beautiful pictures. I have a little boy, Henry, with severe hearing loss in both ears. Though our situations are different, I could understand to some degree what you’re feeling. Yes, he is different, but he is also the same.

    Beautiful boys you have!

  9. I love this entry. I wonder how our lives would be different if we looked at what people could do instead of what they couldn’t–if we looked how we are alike instead of different. This is one reason I struggle with conversations of diversity. It focuses on how we are different and I think, even subtly, divides us. Thanks for putting this into words and pictures. It becomes so very clear–to at least me! And besides your examples are so darn cute!

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