Colleen, one of my most amazing friends, recently had an amazing thing happen to her. She had a kid. Since she’s so amazing and her family’s story is so amazingly lovely and inspiring, I asked her if I could interview her for this blog. She said yes.
Colleen is a dedicated proponent of the arts, one of the kindest women I know and is beautifully tall. Chris is not taller than his wife (even though I always think he is), and is thoughtful, smart and a true gentleman. Colin is seven months old. He likes avocados, hates peas and has really strong feet. He also has a huge family, as Colleen puts it, “by blood and by friendship.”
I asked Colleen how parenthood has changed their lives. Her response:
“I could probably be more profound with this if I could remember what I was like before. All the clichés are true—you become less selfish, the world has more meaning and you have a whole new prospective on everything. You use a new vocabulary, and at times it feels like you are speaking a new language. It’s also challenged us in a way we never really understood before—and that challenge begins anew every day. I’ve always been sensitive, but parenthood has amped my sensitivity up by about 1000%.
And although I’ve never been particularly crafty, I have a newfound interest in crafts. The idea of forming memories and traditions through an act of creating something with my family has become even more important.”
In addition to being one of the coolest babies I know, Colin also has Down Syndrome.
Colleen and Chris received the diagnosis right after Colin was born and the news shook their little family quite a bit. Reflecting on Colin’s birth, Colleen said, “It hurt so badly in the beginning. While it’s embarrassing and humbling to share, it’s okay now because we made it. And it is so good.”
Colin and the bear.
From Colleen: “I never in a million years thought this would happen to us. And my preconceptions of what ‘this’ was were based on my own misconceptions. Colin is just like any other baby. He will grow into being a toddler like any other toddler, and will grow into a young adult just like any other young adult. He will have the same feelings, thoughts, happiness and sadness that you and I feel. Having Down Syndrome just means he might reach milestones later than his peers. It doesn’t mean he won’t live, love and fulfill his dreams just like any other person who is given the opportunity.
And I don’t say that with blinders on because I’m his mom. I say that because I see it every day. I had so many doubts at first about all of this, and about my family’s ability to live in this world where people use words like ‘special needs.’ However, I can say at this point that our world is no different than anyone else’s, except now we have a little man with big hair.”
I asked Colleen what she and Chris are looking forward to doing as a family. She said:
“In addition to building our own traditions, we want to do what everyone wants to do. Travel, go to the zoo (Chris said that; I hate the zoo), Halloweens, Christmases, Sunday hangouts with our friends and family, etc.”
I’m happy to say that Colin and I already have a parent-approved date scheduled for his second birthday. I picked his second instead of his first mostly because I need a year and a half to plan (I was going to take him to the zoo).
To read more about another family raising a beautiful kid with Down Syndrome, check out the blog Enjoying the Small Things.