One of the most appealing aspects of creating a business to specifically serve people with Down syndrome is witnessing and, to an extent, experiencing the warmth, kindness, and love that is the community of people with Down syndrome and their family and friends. I feel humbled and grateful every time I read an email or receive a phone call from someone responding to my requests for insights and measurements. It has made me determined to go forward with this initiative and to expand the product offering beyond just children’s wear. I am beginning this business on a small scale but will expand as quickly as your responses will allow me. Know that in the not-too-distant future you will be able to buy clothes that fit your daughter, son, brother, sister, grandchild – that person you love deeply and want to be able to wear clothes that look “like what the other kids wear” or clothes that make them feel good, or clothes that don’t make him or her look like they’re “playing dress-up” because the sleeves or the pant legs are too long. That’s my vow to you.
Back to the sense of community that I’ve found already in those of you have taken time to encourage me and to provide your thoughts. Since I’m adopting you as my community (as many of you as will accept me, anyway) I thought you might like to know a little bit about me. So, here is a start.
The best and easiest start in explaining who I am is to talk about my three greatest accomplishments. They are my children - Alex, Blythe and Evan. My children are good, smart, and funny. Since I love to laugh I am happy and relieved that they each have a well developed sense of humor and very quick wit. Whew!
Alex – Alexander, really - my older son is 17 years old. I remember the day that I brought him home fresh from the hospital as clearly as if it were last week. I held him, all swaddled in receiving blankets despite the early August weather, in my arms and stepped gingerly into my house as a new mother. I felt like a different woman than the one who had left that home in the late night hours nearly a week earlier. I had been an overripe and anxious wreck – nearly 3 weeks past my due date but 19 hours into labor by then and ready to have the whole thing over. I returned lighter on my feet yet heavy with the responsibility of doing right by this dear, sweet, totally dependent child. The dog, who had evidently missed me, flew through a couple of rooms and leapt onto me. I burst into tears…fear and hormones. For me, that observation from the movie Parenthood rings true – that parents are so cautious, so apprehensive with the first child but by the time the third one arrives, you “let him juggle kitchen knives.” Yep…just about!
Despite my obsessive worry, Alex has turned out well. He’s a good student (in most classes), president of his junior class, and has a part time job. He’s very active in the business-focused club DECA and takes marketing classes in high school. I revel in that because for years he teased me about being a corporate marketeer and taunted me with endless “Dilbert” cartoons. Alex loves history, politics and world events. He’s a very good writer. He plans to study political science in college. He plans to be U.S. President some day. He and his sister are very staunch in support of their respective, opposing political parties. Alex asked me once “If Blythe and I were running for President against each other, who would you vote for?” I was divinely delivered a response pretty quickly. I told him “I’m from Chicago. I’d vote for both of you – often.”
My daughter, Blythe, is 16 years old – 16 months younger than Alex. She’s a good student too, never having gotten a grade lower than “A” since 3rd grade, when grading shifted from general categories (high, medium, low) to the A, B, C scheme. She has a full schedule of honors classes and a calendar full of varied extracurricular activities. She, too, is class president – of her sophomore class, she’s a student council vice-president, captain of the academic team, a member of the tennis team, an actress in the school plays – and a few more things; I tend to lose track. She plans for an Ivy League education, a law degree, and a public service career. When she was 5 years old she asked me “Mommy, what does it take to be President of the United States?” Well, coincidentally, I had just finished the biography “First in His Class” about Bill Clinton. So, I told her – in apparently too much detail – about Clinton’s decision, at the same age, to become President and about his path to the White House. When I was done she was silent for a while. Then she said “Maybe I’ll just be First Lady.” Soon thereafter, however, she returned to her original plan. And I was reminded that no matter how precocious she was, she was after all just a young child.
My youngest, Evan, is 9 years old. He is a third grader. He’s very good at math, and has recently become something of a presidential scholar. My older brother has written a handful of presidential biographies for children ages 4 to 9; Evan has read them all (often) and has expanded his reading to include such biographies by non-family authors. He knows all the presidents, in order (as does Alex), and he often stumps me on presidential facts. That’s saying something because I like political history myself and thought myself pretty astute until recently. Evan has begun to see himself as capable of a political career, like his brother and sister. I can see him doing that – or a hundred other things. His interests are varied. He’s intellectually curious yet he loves the outdoors. He enjoys conducting “experiments”. We have a small pumpkin gourd in the freezer – 5 months old now and counting – that he pulls out, thaws, observes, and returns to its space every now and then. Recently I’ve begun to wonder if the odd smell emanating from the fridge/freezer is that pumpkin. It may be time to end the experiment.
It’s probably time to end this entry as well. Thanks for indulging a proud mother.