Today marks three years since we landed on US soil with our oh-so-fragile girl.
Three years since God began changing my heart – teaching me, daily, how very perfect His plan was in knitting a child with Down syndrome into our family.
I was so very afraid of all the ways I might fail her as a mother, of how her needs might overwhelm me, of how parenting a child with significant needs might make me less capable of parenting my other children well.
And, in many ways, I was right. She did have significant needs. Undisclosed needs we had never even heard of or imagined.
She did and does require unique parenting.
But in so many more ways, I was wrong. I never could have imagined all the ways she would galvanize, cultivate and alter the very fabric of our family. This child – non-verbal, non-mobile and in the most fragile of health just three years ago – is showing us how to be more like our Maker.
So instead of trying to encapsulate all the ways, I’m going to leave it to her siblings.
Tallula: Since Clementine came home we’ve learned more sign language and we’ve learned more things about her like that she’s so cute and smart. She feels the same feelings as other people – when they’re happy she feels happy and when they’re sad, she feels sad.
Poppy: She brought joy into our family with her silly faces and cute laugh. She likes to include everybody in things, like singing and dancing, even if she doesn’t like them very much.
Vivienne: She has taught us never to give up. When she went through surgery it hurt her a lot and she was so brave. She never stopped trying.
Shepherd: When she came home she was really sick and couldn’t talk. She kept trying to learn new things, watching Signing Time and trying to communicate. Now, when I see her talking and signing, I’m reminded that she had to work hard to do that and it helps me to work harder.
Jude: Clementine has taught me to be happy when others are happy, even though sometimes I kinda don’t want to be. During birthdays, when other people get presents and cake, she’s happy… even though the presents and cake aren’t for her.
Isabelle: Before Clementine, our family was way more serious. But now, since she came home, we do all sorts of goofy stuff with her because she’s so cute and funny and now we all laugh and have way more fun.
Sophie: She’s taught us how to be happy with what we have. She doesn’t think about what she doesn’t have and is able to take something simple and make it fun.
Dalton: Clementine is a living representation of love. She loves without expecting anything in return and finds joy in simply making others happy.
Asher: She always looks at the inside of a person instead of the outside. She’s taught me to look harder at a person before deciding the content of their character. Also she’s really cutie.
Yup. What they said.
Four years old and technically considered to be “cognitively delayed” and yet teaching us all, by example, how to be better people.
One chocolate-y smile at a time.