I always wonder if strangers know that Ellie has Down Syndrome. As she grows, her features will become more prominent and I am prepared for future looks and comments, but now in her early years, it’s a bit hidden. Her beautiful eyes may be the only hint from a stranger’s glance. In grocery stores and shops people often tell me how beautiful Ellie is and I look to see if they know. It’s silly, I should take their compliment and refrain from picking it apart but I think of her future and pray to never hear discouraging words from tables next to us at restaurants. The other day while loading the car with groceries a woman approached and immediately smiled at Ellie, as most people do. She went on to say how she only has 3 boys and how she’s always wanted a girl, as I quickly tried to get the last bits of food in the car. Then as she touched Ellie’s perfect foot she made a comment, “I saw a woman online with pictures of a baby with your little girl’s same features, and some people replied a bit uncouth, but how could you look at a baby like this without seeing how beautiful she is.” I replied how Ellie is absolutely beautiful, not knowing what to say. “You’re biased,” she replied, “but I’m not and she’s beautiful.” And she walked away to her car and drove off, leaving me holding a carton of eggs tightly in my hands wondering what just happened. She must have known, I thought. Maybe she didn’t, maybe it was an innocent comment on pictures of babies online, but it made me feel a little exposed and a little proud all at the same time. This woman didn’t know I’d pick apart her comment, and I probably shouldn’t, I should just accept a stranger telling me such wonderful things about my Ellie, but I’m new to this world of strangers and comments and judgements and compliments. I’ve lain in bed many nights preparing for a day I pray will never come, if someone uses a horrible word to describe my angel, I’ve thought of ways to respond with knowledge instead of hate and to never let something like that slide, but I was not prepared for an innocent stranger to also know the beauty of Down Syndrome within Ellie’s eyes. So I will take that woman as a kind person and think that she returned to her car, with her 3 boys begging to go home, and told them she just saw the most beautiful baby with Down Syndrome, and if it’s the first time they’ve heard that word I feel blessed and hope they will always remember it with the word beautiful.
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