Happy Anniversary

My husband and I just celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary. When we married I had a lot of hopes, dreams and expectations. Some of them were even realistic! Since I grew up with a single parent I remember wondering what married couples talk about, especially in the evenings. I didn’t really know what it was like to have a man around all of the time, so I had some apprehension about how marriage would be. But I married him with stars in my eyes and love in my heart. Our marriage has been good but in some ways it turns out I married a stranger. Oh, I knew he was a good man and we had similar values. He treated his parents and me with love and respect. He loved our Savior, Jesus Christ and living gospel principles was important to him. We had fun together and I loved being with him. He also wanted to have children and I loved him dearly and so we began our lives together. But, there have been many things about him that have surprised me. When we married he was working as a school psychologist and kept school hours. He was home by 4:00, even though I didn’t get off work until 5:00. He was usually busy working at other things while I was still at work. I tease him that I married a mild mannered school psychologist who turned out to be an entrepreneur. The signs were there that he was entrepreneurial but I just didn’t see them. At the time besides being a school psychologist he was teaching community education classes, writing a column for a newspaper, doing hypnosis to help people quit smoking as well as doing a home business of upholstery. Of course now I look back and realize all of the signs were there. Actually being a hard worker is a good thing, I was just pleasantly surprised by it.

When we had been married about 5 months he was offered a job as a program planner with a developmental center for people with intellectual disabilities. He took the job and so began our venture into the world of developmental disabilities, a cause he has become passionate about. Since that time he has started a nonprofit organization that supplies services and staff to help people with developmental disabilities be successful in their lives. Through his hard work the company has expanded to several states and to several thousand employees. I have told him that he is recreationally impaired because he would rather work than play. There was one time I even told him I would never go on another vacation with him because all he mostly did was work while the kids and I played. It was not a fun trip!

It’s not just his work ethic that has surprised me. Even though he has traveled much during the years for business, he usually made time for our family. Our children respect and love him dearly and know him to be a man of integrity. They know he will do all in his power to help them in their lives, and that his love for them doesn’t change based on what they do or don’t do. I know he prays for our children daily often takes the long view with them. Because of that our children call him almost daily just to say hello and talk about their day or to ask for his advice. Of course he has regrets as a parent about being away so much and about missing many occasions but we all have things we would do differently as parents. I think that even if he hadn’t traveled so much he would still have regrets because parents are just imperfect people. But I believe he really tried to be a good dad. He told me once that he kept growing the company because the bigger it got the more financially stable we were. We have 8 children and families cost money and he took his role as the provider seriously. I think love for his family and his passion for those with developmental disabilities fueled his work ethic. It was hard having him gone so much but I knew he wasn’t playing but working hard for us. I really didn’t know when we married what kind of dad he would be but I have been grateful that he is the dad of my children.

As he was and is a good father he is also a good husband. He frequently puts my wants and needs before his own. It’s the little things like letting me choose the restaurant when we eat out or deciding what to do on our dates. He will send me a text to “buy it” when he knows I’m shopping because he knows I’m cheap sometimes. I love how he holds my hand when we’re walking along somewhere together. He peels an orange and offers me half of it. Anything I bring home he will assemble because he knows it gives me anxiety to even think about putting something together. He supports me in my church callings and by his examples encourages me to do and be better. He values my happiness and will work to solve problems we have and not just dismiss what I want. I never have to wonder if he’s telling me the truth. He tells me frequently that he loves me. Did I know that he would be this way when I married him? Definitely not! But of course I hoped so. So really I married a stranger in some ways, and I got lucky because he is even better than I thought. I now know what couples talk about in the evenings, and what it’s like to have a man around all of the time. I’m glad he’s that man. He is a good person, dad and husband and I hope we are lucky enough to have another 34 years together. Happy Anniversary my Love!

Down Syndrome and What I Have Learned

I was 45 when my last child was born. Because of my age the doctors wanted me to do genetic testing to look for possible defects. I declined because even if the tests showed something I wouldn’t have had an abortion, so why bother. I really thought there was nothing wrong. I had had seven other children that were healthy and I knew this child was supposed to come to our home so I just thought there couldn’t possibly be something wrong. Actually, I’m really glad I didn’t know beforehand that she had Down Syndrome because I would have worried about it the entire pregnancy. I would have gone to the worst possible scenarios and possibly have felt bleak. Not knowing beforehand saved me from a lot of unnecessary anxiety.

I have always had c-sections and when she was being born I could feel what the doctors were doing so the anesthesiologist quickly put me out. Later, in the recovery room, in my hazy rousing, I could hear my husband say that the baby had Down Syndrome. This was also a blessing because my brain began to process that information. When I was fully awake I had already accepted the information and surprisingly I was calm. Mostly I think I was trying to figure out what life was going to look like now. This was really different from how I thought it was going to be and I was trying to wrap my brain around my new reality, in a little bit of a daze.

She was born in the early afternoon and that evening after my husband had gone home and I was alone, I sat there pondering the situation. I think because I was calm I was able to hear the whisperings of the Spirit. I remembered two things that had happened in the past. One, when I was 25, was a Relief Society lesson taught by a woman who had four children, three of them with major disabilities. She spoke about how she had prayed about her children and their lives she had come to understand that for some reason this was God’s will and that her children had accepted this assignment in the premortal world. Because her children had great faith and obedience they had followed the will of the Father. At the time of the lesson I had a very strong witness that what she was saying was true. So strong in fact that I wondered about why I had had that experience. Every so often I would ponder on it throughout the years, still puzzled about the depth of it.

The next experience was remembering an Ensign (April 1993, p 27) article I had read several years before. The article was about a man who was pondering about his daughter with Down Syndrome, looking for some kind of peace as to why she was born this way. While pondering he had a remarkable experience. He said that it wasn’t a vision but more like a scenario that impressed itself on his consciousness. In his mind he saw his “family” in the premortal world and our Father and came to them and said He had an assignment for one of them. He said that our Father went on to say that the one would experience earth life differently from the rest of the family and it was necessary so that they could learn how to love purely and unconditionally. The man said that the “brightest and most beautiful” among them stepped forward and volunteered. The volunteer was his daughter with Down Syndrome. He wasn’t sure that this really happened in the premortal world but the principle that he learned was important: she was Child of God and that they had much to learn from each other. I personally think experiences like this are given to us in terms we can understand and are not literal, but they teach us important truths. The truth here is that our children come to us with great faith and together we learn things that help us grow and become better than we could otherwise.

So, back to the night in the hospital when my daughter was born. These two incidents came to my mind with the thought, “these were to prepare you for her.” A great peace and sense of wonderment filled me. Everything would be okay and we would be fine. That experience with the Spirit that night taught me several things. One was that this was not an accident. For some reason this was part of the plan. She was meant to come to my family and because of her great faith she accepted the will of the Father and was born to a different kind of life. I often remind myself that she is the “brightest and most beautiful” among us even if I can’t see that right now. She can be stubborn and obviously is not perfect. Another thing I learned was that God is aware of the details of our lives and prepares us for the things that are going to happen. I was not aware that I was being prepared but that didn’t stop the preparation from happening. When she was born God had taught me what I needed to know in order to love and care for her, and accept her. I still had a lot to learn but the foundation was in place and we could go forward secure in the knowledge that we would have His help. I have also learned since then that no matter what child you have there will be difficulties, challenges and hard times. Each child is unique and comes with his or her own challenges, they’re just usually not as obvious as Down Syndrome. I have also learned there will also be joys, peace and love. Every child has the ability to bring joy to your life if you are open to it. So, having a daughter with Down Syndrome is not exactly what I expected or thought how it should be. It’s even better.

The Simplicity of Family Fun

On The Nose

In my last post I wrote about how much work there was with a family and the importance of taking time for fun. I regret not spending more time just playing with my kids and enjoying them. I do remember some fun things we did together though. It’s funny that most of these things were spontaneous and unplanned yet they are some of the sweetest things I remember doing with my children. I’m not even sure how this one started but my children loved it. They would lie on the couch with their head on their dad’s lap and he would stack cheerios on their nose. My children would line up waiting for their turn in delightful anticipation. It was a contest between the children to see who could lay the most still and could get the most cheerios stacked. Each would carefully angle his or her head to figure out the best position. It was serious business! I was the one who supplied and counted the cheerios, and took pictures. A really simple thing yet when I talk with my children about it they remember it vividly and talk about how much fun it was. I still have the photographs and when I look at them sweet memories flood my mind. One picture shows my toddler lying there with someone holding her hands so she wouldn’t push the cheerios away. She had watched everyone else doing it and she wanted to do it too but didn’t actually want to have something on her nose. Her brothers and sisters were gathered around counting the cheerios as they went on her nose and cheering that she sat still. It is a priceless memory!

A Sweet Memory

Another sweet memory is when I had a daughter sitting on my lap and we made up different kinds of kisses. I had a couple of other children sitting next to me and each of them got involved and we were all laughing and doing the kisses on each other. One was the race care kiss where you zoomed your lips across the cheek of the other person, and of course you had to make a race car sound. There was the butterfly kiss in which you fluttered your eyelashes against the cheek of the other person. That one mostly tickled. An energetic one involved bouncing kisses off the cheek of your partner and we called that one the Pogo stick kiss. The most popular one was the ice cream kiss which involved licking the cheek of the unsuspecting person sitting next to you. Yes, I know it’s disgusting, yet somehow it was fun when done with my kids. The ice cream kiss turned out to be the most fun because everyone was chasing each other to “kiss” them. It’s been many years and I don’t remember all of the kisses we came up with but I do remember just enjoying my children. I remember being present with them and just having fun together.

Singing and Dancing

Something else I remember doing is singing and dancing with my kids. We’d put on a Raffi CD and hold hands and dance around while singing along with the silly songs. A couple of my daughters have really good memories of doing that so I found some Raffi CDs on Amazon and sent them to them so they could do the same with their children. Most people today don’t remember Raffi or know who he is, which is kind of sad because of the good memories I have of his music. I have always liked singing and sang a lot with my children. Using familiar tunes we’d make up new words to songs as we were driving somewhere or working together. We also sang a lot of Primary songs driving places and the added advantage to that was it cut down on the fighting and arguing in the car.

Funny Sayings

One last thing want to share is how we made up funny sayings along the lines of See You Later Alligator. Every morning as my kids left for school I would say In a While Crocodile, and See You Later Alligator. One morning, on the spur of the moment, I added a new one. Hit The Road You Silly Toad which spurred others, Remember To Laugh You Funny Giraffe and then That’s Preposterous You Crazy Rhinoceros! Some of my kids thought of other ones too. We had fun most mornings adding to the sayings. I still say these to my only daughter at home as she heads out the door to catch the bus.

No Expensive Gadgets

When I look at these fun things what stands out to me most is that none of these cost any money, we didn’t go anywhere fancy and it didn’t involve any expensive gadgets. It was just me taking the time to focus on my children in fun ways, and being relaxed and really present with them. I wasn’t worried about what needed to be done, teaching them something important, or working. Maybe because it didn’t happen too often these things stand out in my mind and the minds of my kids. Whatever the reason, to me it emphasizes the importance of enjoying my children. It also shows me the value of just having fun together and the love and strength that results. I’m glad to have these sweet memories.

Work vs Family Fun

When my children were young there was always so much to do. I would wake up early to get kids ready for school or church, often after having been up several times during the night feeding a baby. I would work hard all day and late into the evening. There were always meals to fix, laundry to do and a house to clean. There was homework to supervise, children to bathe, as well as shopping to be done and music lessons to get kids to. During the spring and summer there was yard work and gardens to tend. During the fall there was canning and dehydrating fruit. I volunteered in the schools and there was church work to be done. I was always busy, busy, busy. Somehow I was self driven to try to do everything in my mind I thought I was supposed to do. Even when I was really tired it didn’t really occur to me that I didn’t have to do so much. I was a worker and work was what I did.

One day a few years ago I was talking with one of my daughters who told me she wasn’t sure she wanted to have children. She said it just seemed like a lot of work without any fun. She had watched me during the years and had seen all the work I did without really taking a lot of time for fun, and it seemed like drudgery to her. After talking with her for a while, I reassured her that she could make motherhood as fun as she wanted. This conversation left me feeling a little sad though. I felt sad that I had subtly conveyed the message that motherhood was all work and very little fun. I also started wondering about how much work is really needed to make a home run smoothly and how much is too much. Did I really need to do so much? I did do a lot of fun things with my kids. We had craft time, went to the pool and park several times a week during the summer and went to the movies often. We had halloween parties and celebrated birthdays with family parties and played board games. I read books with my children and we went to petting zoos and aviaries. But, even theses fun things were a lot of work because we often had not only my kids but half the neighborhood joining in. There were so many little fingers into the projects we did and getting anywhere with my crew took so much energy and work. I viewed having fun as work! And I was usually thinking ahead what needed to be done instead of being present and enjoying my family.

Now that my children are grown and gone I look at things a little differently. Perhaps I have learned to relax a little over the years. Maybe I see how fast the time has gone. Perhaps I have come to realize that work is important but that relationships need to be nurtured by doing enjoyable things together. Families do take a lot of work, even to have fun. But, having fun together is just as important as working together. Being together just for the pleasure of it without thinking about what still needs to be done. The kind of together that says I love you and I want to spend time with you. The kind of fun that says you are important to me. So, if I had another magic wand…

https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng&_r=1&old=true

Tomato Soup and Tuna Sandwiches

When my husband and I were newly married we often had tomato soup and tuna sandwiches for lunch after church on Sundays. The only problem was I liked my tuna with mayonnaise and tomato soup made with milk. My husband liked his tuna with miracle whip and his tomato soup made with water. I couldn’t believe he liked it that way! After a light teasing about who had better taste and who was right, we came up with a solution to the dilemma. Whoever made lunch would get out two pans and divide the soup and put half into each pan, and to one add milk and to the other add water. The same happened with the tuna. It would be divided into two bowls and to one was added mayonnaise and the other miracle whip. Even though this was extra work it went on for several months and solved the problem of accommodating completely opposite tastes. One Sunday after church my husband was making our usual lunch of tuna and soup and I noticed he only had one pan out and one bowl in which to make them, and he was making them the way I liked them. I asked why and he responded it was just too much energy to divided everything, and being the kind person he is, he did it the way I like it. We have done it that way since then, almost 34 years. Yet, if he hadn’t simplified it, I would have kept it up because it’s so easy to get upset at stupid things and to let little things become big things. Little, unimportant things like tomato soup and tuna sandwiches get blown up out of proportion and cause unkind feelings between people. I once read a letter someone submitted to an advice columnist. It seems that the wife liked to keep her peanut butter in the cabinet and her ketchup in the refrigerator and the husband liked to keep his peanut butter in the refrigerator and his ketchup in the cabinet. They had been fighting about the right way to store them and they were asking the columnist to solve the problem. The answer? Keep ketchup and peanut butter in both places, the cabinet and the refrigerator. So simple, and if I had been the one to write the letter asking for help I would have wondered why I hadn’t thought of that obvious solution. Maybe I would also have wondered why I had spent so much energy and unkind thoughts on something so insignificant. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in who’s right or the emotions of the situation that we don’t get to the problem solving stage. Most problems have solutions and if we take a few minutes to think about it we realize that usually it’s just a matter of taste or even habit, not what’s morally right. Realizing this allows us to think of solutions to problems that confront us and then everyone wins. Relationships take a lot of effort, energy and compromise but when both people are happy, life is good. I have found the when I take the time to focus on solutions to the problems that confront my husband and myself that we’re both happier.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/what-are-you-thinking?lang=eng

Funny Family Expressions

In my husband’s family there are some funny expressions, some of which I have never heard before. His family is from a small town in central Utah and I don’t know if these expression are common in that town or if they are unique to his family. Some of these expression defy logic because they just don’t make sense. My favorite one of these is “How come your eye’s out without a scratch on your face.” Loosely translated it means “Why did you do that?” He has tried to explain the expression to me many times and it’s inference. Usually he gives this example, “You’re eating some watermelon and you leave the room for a few minutes and come back to find that someone has eaten the heart of the melon. You then say, ‘how come your eye’s out without a scratch on your face?'” I know, it makes no sense. Because it makes no sense I can’t remember the phrase exactly and he had to repeat it to me again to write this. Another phrase his family says is “it physics me” meaning it gives the person diarrhea. That one I sort of get, or at least I can see the connection. They would usually say something like, “I can’t eat that because it physics me.” I don’t know anyone else who says that but older people in his family. I think the expression is dying out with the younger crew, which in some ways is kind of sad. Unique sayings give a family a distinctive personality.

An expression unique to my husband is something he’d always say to console one of our children after they’d get hurt. He’d be patting the child on the back and saying in a soothing tone of voice, “It’ll feel better when it stops hurting.” Somehow that always worked, or at least it did until they got old enough to really figure out what he was saying. Now our kids laugh about it and say it with their own kids. Another funny expression comes from a friend of my husband. Her grandmother always said, “I have a bone in my leg” when she didn’t want to do something that required her to move. Well, yes that one makes sense too because we all have a bone in our legs. Why she’d say that in those circumstances I don’t have a clue.

I’ve been trying to figure out if I grew up with any weird sayings in my family and I couldn’t think of any. I asked my husband if I use any weird or unusual expressions and he couldn’t think of any either. Probably I just grew up in a boring family. But, I think most of us grow up with these funny expressions and don’t give them much thought because we’ve heard them all of our lives. But when you stop and think about it, there are some very peculiar sayings out there that are only understood by the family who uses them. There might be some funny, unusual, or weird expressions in your family. If so, I’d love to hear them. If you feel like it, just tell me some of them in the comment section of this post.

I Hate Getting Up Early

I am not a morning person and I don’t like getting up early. My brain always feels foggy early in the morning, my bones feel stiff and my muscles rebel at having to work. Yet for over 30 years I have had to get up early to get kids ready for the day. I think I have complained the entire 30 years about it too. Recently I have noticed my 17 year old daughter (the one with Down Syndrome) saying the exact same thing I say, “I hate getting up early.” She says it frequently and bemoans the fact that she has to get up when the sky is still dark. Her words and her attitude echo mine but the funny thing is she really gets up easily early in the morning. She has learned to say those words and exhibit grumpy behavior because I do. Children are a great reflection of their parents words, actions and attitudes. They learn how to think and act about things from our behavior and sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s not so good. Since hearing my daughter repeat not only my words but my tone of voice too, I have decided to not complain anymore (at least about getting up early). Now I have started focusing on the positive with her about getting out of a warm bed while its still dark outside. In my tired, fuzzy mornings I now say things like “aren’t we lucky that you get to go to a good school” or “you’re so lucky you get to ride the bus” because she absolutely loves to ride the bus. I still don’t like getting up early but focusing on the positive has been a good thing. There always is something positive to focus on because I live in a nice home that’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I have good food to eat and clean water to drink. Life is good and my words and attitude should reflect that. Hearing my daughter sound like me has also been a good thing. It helps me reshape my thinking and become aware of the things I say or do that maybe I need to change. Some things are easy to change while other things can be very difficult, but we do have help available. Keith Wilcox in the April 1985 General Conference said, “By seeking the Lord through prayer and through his holy scriptures, we learn to look for the beautiful and to develop positive attitudes.” God is in the details of our lives and will help us when we ask for His help, whether it’s something easy or something hard.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1985/04/look-for-the-beautiful?lang=eng

The Reasons We Change

When I was 16 I started watching a soap opera called All My Children. It was really popular at my school and it was fun to be able to talk about it with my friends. It wasn’t long before I was really involved in the story line and the “lives” of the characters in the show. When I went away to college I scheduled my classes when it was possible so I could watch the show. There were TVs set up in the student center and several of us would gather and watch it almost daily. After I graduated and had a job I would usually go home for lunch and watch the show and I was glad the timing of the show fit in with my lunch schedule. I was heavily involved with the show even though in the back of my mind I knew some of the show’s content was inappropriate. I rationalized that some of the bedroom scenes were okay to watch because I really knew what was right and I would never do those things so it really didn’t matter. Sometimes I just didn’t think about it at all because I didn’t want to. Unfortunately it was really easy to fool myself into watching a show I knew was wrong.

After my first baby was born I was a stay at home mom so it was really easy to schedule my day around the show. When my daughter was about 8 months old I was watching the show one day when I had the thought come to me, “Do you really want that show in the background while she’s growing up.” I thought, “No, I don’t!” and I turned it off and never watched it again. What’s really interesting to me is that a show I had been heavily involved in and had watched for 14 years was suddenly unimportant to me when compared with my daughter and her welfare. I’m sure I had been prompted before to quit watching the show but had ignored the warnings. I have found in my life that often it takes the right motivation for me to make changes. In this case it was love for my daughter which was greater than a TV show.

I once read there are 3 main reasons for doing just about anything. The first is the fear of not doing it, of getting punished if we don’t do it. For example, getting bad grades because we didn’t do our homework, or disappointing people we care about. Gospel analogy would be loss of the Spirit, having people think badly of us or eventually going to Hell. The second would be for the reward we get for doing it. Keeping with the same example would be getting good grades, or getting a pay raise or promotion at work. It could also be receiving awards or public recognition. Gospel analogy would be for receiving blessings, having the Spirit with us, or feeling good about ourselves. Sometimes it is receiving the praise of others or being known as a good person. The last reason we do things is just for love of it. For me that was the case of loving my daughter more than the show. Sometimes people exercise just because they love it or go to work because they love what they do and the pay is secondary. People often quit smoking or start healthy habits because they love someone. In gospel terms it would be because we love God. We don’t keep the commandments out of fear or hope of reward but because we love God. This is obviously the higher law or reason but too often not why I do something. In the scriptures we are told to love God with “all of our hearts, might, mind and strength.” Usually the word heart is listed first because when we love God with all of our hearts everything else falls into place, our motivations are pure. As I try to love God with my whole heart and try to do things for the right reason my focus becomes clearer and I fear less. I am less worried about what others think. It seems like it should be something so easy to do. Yet it is so hard for me to do things for the right reason. Doing something because I love God and not because of the reward I get is something I am working on. This involves changing my heart and focus, and for me it will be the quest of a life time.

https://www.mormonchannel.org/blog/post/3-ways-to-develop-genuine-love-for-god

What Do I Fix For Dinner?

Many years ago I struggled to figure out most nights what I was going to fix for dinner. When I waited to think about it until 5:00 not only was I tired but my children were also tired and usually wanting my attention. Crying, crabby children didn’t make it easy to think clearly about planning dinner. In this situation I could usually think of about 3 or 4 things to fix which night after night didn’t go over so well. Often I wouldn’t have all of the ingredients I needed to make the dinner, which added to the stress. It was then hurry to the store or find something else to fix. Life is stressful enough without increasing it with this nightly dance. So I decided I was going to be really organized and plan menus for each week. That way I wouldn’t be trying to figure out dinner in a stressful situation, and I would always have the food available I needed to make dinner. The first time I sat down to write the menu all I could think of was the same 3 or 4 things. That obviously didn’t work so I came up with a plan. I decided to look through cook books that I often used and made a list of main courses, side dishes, salads and desserts. I put the meal option list in a page protector and on a clip board. This gave me a quick reference list for menu planning. I then photocopied all the recipes on the list and put them in a binder so I would have quick access to them when making dinner. I didn’t want to have to take time to find the recipes because sometimes I only had a short time to pull off the nightly feat of meal prep. I also made a shopping list with categories like produce, can goods, breads, meats, dairy and other similar things. That also went on the clip board along with the menu page. When I plan menus I look over the list, figure out the meals for each night, make out the shopping list and then I’m ready to go to the grocery store. Having everything on a clip board made crossing things off while shopping easier.

All of this took some time to organize but when it was done it was well worth it. Not only did it stop the 5:00 scramble to figure out dinner but it saved money by being organized in shopping and reducing wasted food. It also made it easier when cleaning out the fridge to know how long a particular food item had been in it. Some times if I was running late I would call my husband and have him look on the menu to see what was planned and get it started. There were also times when things didn’t work out for what I had planned for a particular night so I would switch nights around. Being flexible with it helped a lot. My kids also liked being to see the menu and know what was for dinner that night. Of course there were still tired, crying kids and one really tired mom on some nights but having what to fix for dinner already figured out really did help relieve a lot of the stress. There are many different ways to do menu planning and maybe some these ideas will spur your own ideas. For me this was a tool that helped life go a little smoother and reduce some stress in our lives.

Orange Socks

My family has been involved in a project called Orange Socks. It’s an initiative of Rise, inc. and its purpose is educate people on the joys and challenges of raising a child with disabilities. Its tag line is “Inspiring Life Despite a Diagnosis” and they work to connect parents with each other to create support systems. Most of the time people associate challenges with raising a child who has disabilities but often don’t know of the joys that come to parents and siblings. The initiative started when statistics showed that most children with Down Syndrome are aborted. The Orange Socks founder realized that most people who are told they are having a child with Down Syndrome only heard the negative things about having a child with this condition. He decided to interview parents of children with Down Syndrome to get the good things as well as the hard about raising a child with this syndrome. It didn’t take long before Orange Socks branched out to include all disabilities and to also interview siblings. The initiative is now celebrating its two year anniversary and has interviewed over 100 families from all over the United States. The interviews can be heard on their website Orangesocks.org. In the last year they have also started doing video interviews.

I have been lucky enough to be involved in some of the interviews. I am amazed to see parents tackling hard situations and more than rising to the occasion. They grow as individuals as they care for their children in some times hard ways. Often other people will say something like “I could never raise a child with disabilities, I’m not strong enough.” What I have learned is that people are stronger than they think. In the interviews I sat in the parents all talked about how they rely on prayer and God to help them. They also talk about how their other children have learned to be more compassionate and kind. People sometimes forget that whatever child they have will have some challenges. In my experience with my daughter who has Down Syndrome I have some challenges that I did not have with my other children. But there are also some challenges that I had with my other children that I will not have with her, and she definitely has taught us a lot.

What really amazes me is that these parents in the interviews focus on the joy their child has brought to their lives and how much they love that child. They also talked about how they feel it is a privilege to “raise an angel.” The Orange Socks founder says there are usually three stages that parents go through when they find out they are having a child with disabilities. The first stage is “Why me,” as they come to terms with it. The second is “Why not me” as they realize life goes on and they are stronger than they thought. Eventually parents get to the third stage which is “Thank God it’s me” when they learn they have the privilege of raising an angel.

https://orangesocks.org/