Ellie and I went to music classes in the spring, she loved it. We met some great families and had a wonderful time. One parent at the class was a former teacher with a sweet little boy who was two years old. I talked with her about heart surgery and Down Syndrome. Her sweet little boy, his name was Jack, loved Ellie. He always said, “sweet baby Ellie, she is the sweetest baby,” and one time his mother looked at him and said, “no Jack, Ellie is not a baby, she is a little girl, a big kid just like you.” I realized then, even I, often see Ellie as a baby. Maybe I’m treating her like a baby because she’s my youngest or because I want to protect her or because subconsciously I am limiting her.
Yesterday my grandmother got a present for the girls, she wanted me to take them to Build a Bear. Mya adored the whole experience, but it surprised me how much Ellie loved it. She picked her own stuffed animal, a brown and white beagle. She cautiously watched as the dog was filled and stitched. Then when I gave her the dog, her eyes lit up. She held him and squeezed him, and then sat down on the ground and knew this dog was made for her. I had underestimated her. I had thought she wouldn’t really understand everything, but she did. She is not a baby, she is a little girl who sees and feels and understands.
I pray that even though I have the strongest faith in Ellie that I always believe in her. That I treat her like the child she is and the woman she will be one day. I will fight my underlying need to shelter her and see her never as something fragile but as a person who is strong and vigilant. My baby girl will grow up just like everyone else, I will be strong to never hold her back if there is a fear that our world won’t accept her, because how could it not.
Ellie is growing up quickly, just like Mya. I am seeing her personality grow, her likes and dislikes. I spent a lot of time thinking about Ellie’s differences, and now I am focusing on all of her similarities. She is truly more alike than different.