It’s been a long day. Not sure if that will be a good thing for this post or a bad thing…Here is the final post though celebrating DS Awareness week!
I love being a mom. It is one of the most rewarding, beautiful roles I could imagine. My kids bring me more joy than I could have hoped for. I always knew I would be a mom but I didn’t think I would be so fulfilled in it alone. My children are truly gifts that shine. Being a mom is also one of the most difficult jobs I can imagine. I am exhausted most days. I can’t keep up. I frequently have to choose between being a good mom or being a good house keeper. Not a fair choice in my opinion.
I think I do parent my girls slightly different while remaining consistent to our parenting style. I’m not sure if this is normal with having more than one kid or if this is just something that I’m doing with respect to their different needs and personalities. I do think each child needs something different from a parent. Thinking about the difference between my own sisters and I, we each wanted different things from my mom. I always wanted more talking while another sister wanted more physical contact like hugs. While trying to meet each of our different needs, my mom’s general parenting style remained the same for all four of us.
For Sofie, I do alter my parenting a bit more than I think other parents might for a second typical child. I’m not so quick to answer the question “What’s it like to be a mom to a child with Down syndrome?” as my husband is. He would say it is exactly the same as parenting a child with out Down syndrome. I don’t think I fully agree, although I want to. Maybe that’s because I’m with her so much more and am constantly juggling all her therapy, doctor appointments, behaviors and extra-curriculars. I also don’t think Dads feel the same judgement’s from other dads that Moms get from other moms. Let’s face it… Moms can be judgmental bitches to each other. Parenting sometimes seems like a competition or something.
I do struggle with what other parents think sometimes. I know… not typical of me, right? I worry that they don’t understand what Sofie’s needs are and why it may seem like I let her get away with some things more than others. I worry about Livi thinking this too. I don’t want Livi to resent her sister for “getting away” with more than she does. It is a hard line to walk.
With Sofie I have to parent her differently. She is not a typical 4 year old. It would be ludicrous to treat her like one. Developmentally she is about 1. She has behavioral issues that stem from her institutionalization, not her Down syndrome. These behaviors CAN NOT be helped with typical discipline tactics or even talked out like I was able to do with Livi from a very early age. This is my biggest struggle. I am mad at what the orphanage did to her and get frustrated with the behaviors that exhibit. I wish everyone knew that her behaviors had more to do with the abuse she endured and not because of her Down syndrome. I guess I feel defensive maybe? I want to make sure people don’t judge the Down syndrome?
For the most part being her mom isn’t all that different from being Livi’s mom. The differences come in when I need to be more relaxed about negative behavior than I was with Livi for the sake of her attachment (not if that behavior is hurting some one though) or where I need to be much more consistent and on top of things if I want something to sink in. It does take her longer to process things. She also likes me to be holding her for quality time but not face to face. Where Livi likes to know I’m watching her and engaging with her fully.
Sofie is a pretty great kid to parent. Both my kids are. They each have their own quirks and secrets but I think I’m figuring it out. Sofie takes some extra consideration sometimes and I do have my struggles but they are just different struggles. Not more difficult, just different from the norm. Sofie having Down syndrome really isn’t what makes my being her mom different. Yes, I will be in certain parenting stages longer with her but the major differences come from her being an orphan. I know we will one day get past that and she will heal fully. I feel so blessed to be her mother and get to support her through that process but some days, like today, with the tantrums, flailing, crying and snot, are hard.