Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Walk in Someone Elses Shoes

Have you ever wondered what the cashier that struggles with words wanted to be when he grew up?

Do you see a mother with a new baby that looks a little different and feel sorry for her?

When you see something unfamiliar and uncomfortable do you avert your eyes and then think how lucky you are?

I remember the first time someone told me I had compassion. I was in the 5th grade. My teacher had gone over our daily writing assignment and left me a note. "Julia, you write with such compassion. I'm so proud to be your teacher." Over the years I've done my best to live up to that word, and I've always thought I did a good job.

It's not true.

I never understood. Not really.

And then there was Austin. And now I know.

On the great cloth that is our life Down Syndrome is just one thread. So many are woven together to make the intricate and beautiful pattern that it is today. Often that one lone thread goes unnoticed as it seamlessly blends with the others, but there's no denying that it's changed us. One little thread. One tiny little soul, teaching us lessons that some will wait a lifetime to learn.

That cashier has a momma just like me. She sent her baby out into a cruel world. One that he has very little opportunity in. Maybe he wanted to be a veterinarian. Maybe someone told him it wasn't possible, so he takes what is offered him and he does his best. His speech may falter but his heart is whole, please treat it gently.

New momma how I long to hug you. Yours is perhaps the most difficult job. You will spend the rest of your life trying to explain the blessing that is in your arms. Not many will understand the gift that we have been given, but Erma Bombecks words are true."She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word.' She will never consider a 'step' ordinary. When her child says 'Momma' for the first time, she will be present at a miracle and know it! When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations." I have seen three little sets of feet take there first step. I have heard the melodious sounds of first words thrice over. I know what it is to feel pride. But I have never known to celebrate the small accomplishments. So many amazing things I never noticed. Little miracles that I once took for granted are now celebrated, and I am proud. So proud of my boy.
Seven months ago I read a birth story. A beautifully written homage to a new baby born with an extra chromosome. I noted the skill of the author and thought, "phew, thank goodness that's not gonna happen to me". I never thought of it again. Until last week. I came across it again while sharing Austin's Birth Story, and I reread it, and then I reread it again. This women and I who have never met share this bond. I am walking in her shoes , sharing my story and the love that I have for one almond eyed little one.

I have the ability now to try on many shoes. It's shown me how true compassion feels. Will you wear mine today? Will you be the mother that wants her son and each and every one like him to be raised in a world that celebrates their victories and rallies to lift them up when they fall?

So now you have my "shoes". What kind do you wear? Do you ever wish someone understood how you felt? Anyone willing to share it with me?


  1. I could try to take a walk in your shoes.. But I don't think I would be nearly as good of a mom as you. I love you. Great post!

  2. Just wanted to pass on a comment from one of my friends about your blog. " This Mom is an absolutely breath-taking writer. Her blog is life-changing."
    She is right, Sweetie!

  3. What a beautiful post, and such a beautiful baby. You wear those shoes beautifully!

  4. PS: Are you on Twitter and/or Facebook? I want to advertise for you-you are really such a gifted writer!

  5. I think I love you. I KNOW I admire you. Austin is a lucky and beautiful little man indeed and I think his mom is pretty lucky to have him too! You humbled me with this post and I admire you and those shoes you walk in. Rock on Super Momma! Austin will do great things with you behind him I am certain!

  6. Jules I am on facebook, I just got started there but you can find me in networked blogs if you search theMomologue. It's also linked to my personal page (Julia Harrison).Thanks so much guys!!

  7. Just catching up on my old posts and this one made me cry. It's so beautiful. You have an amazing way with words and the ability to pour all those feelings we have onto the page. Thank you for that! Austin...well, he's a handsome little man and those cheeks! AWESOME :)