To My Dearest Tarenne on Your Birthday,
I can’t believe this day is here. I have waited with great dread for the day that you would turn three. I don’t know why exactly. I think those feelings began to evolve with the fact that at three you graduate from the First Steps program. Your services are now the responsibility of the school system. And I think because I knew at 3 I would lose control of a part of your day, of your activities, I have not wanted this day to come. I wanted to protect you from the “real” world for as long as I could. I used to say I wished I could carry you on my hip forever.
And that is just not to be. Actually it hasn’t been for quite some time now. You see you learned to walk at 18 months old and you have never looked back since. Your independent nature was actually really evident from the time you learned to crawl. You would crawl to the snack cabinet and open the door, find your desired snack and come to me with it in your hand or your mouth. Your father and I laughed because Darrah never had the initiative that you had. She was happy to be treated as a princess and waited on hand and foot. But with you life is so different. It is as if you realize that the world will see you with jaded eyes and you have wanted from your birth to prove them wrong. I know you will too my baby angel. You already do!
In some things you have to try a little harder to meet your goal. And what is so wonderful is that it almost always is YOUR goal. YOU are the one who wants to do everything alone, with out help. This strong will and determination helps you to achieve and be so proud of yourself. Your pride is evidenced on the look in your eyes as you accomplish what you have set out to do. And also by the way that after I cheer for you, you immediately ask for “Dad, Dad” to show him too. You don’t want any of us to lose out on the chance to celebrate with you. Sometimes you act shy and cover your beautiful little eyes and face with your hands. But always I know you KNOW how much you are loved. I scream a high pitched, “YEA” that has evolved just for you. Your speech therapist worried that I would throw your brain into a state of panic and you would lose focus on the task at hand. Hee hee. I can’t think of the term she used at the time. But you have become used to the exuberance you bring into my life.
I could literally sit and watch you all day long. I have been accused of candy coating Down syndrome, by some online critics more than once over the years. I just laugh. If they could spend a day in our home, in your presence they too would walk away high on life. How could they not? It is not just me that you have this effect on. Your Daddy loves you more than anything on this earth. When he gets home YOU are the one he wants to join him in our bedroom as he changes into shorts and breathes in his own space for a few short minutes. I have to laugh because you are the one of the family who causes more chaos than anyone else. That is your personality. To make us laugh, and now sometimes even purposefully annoy is, is your goal of the day. But he delights in your antics and comes out with a smile no matter how bad his day has been at work. Even with your pesky, adorable personality, the peace your spirit brings out in us is your overriding force. It is a gift of yours alone, that is for sure!
Lately you have taken to growling at Darrah in a certain tone. You don’t need words to communicate that you are trying to annoy her as she has you so many times over the three years you have graced our family. It is so funny because your intention is so obvious with your tone, your body language….you lean toward her and growl, and then walk on by. She gets so mad at you. Your relationship with her is incredible. You know each other so well. You love each other so well too! Even though the typical sister antagonizing takes place you two can not go more than an hour without each other. You will ask for her, “Dawah”, and then promptly go to where she naps and try to wake her up by making noise in the hallway outside our bedroom. She just walked into the computer room and wanted me to type, “I love you Tarenne, and so does Mommy and Daddy and Marley. You are the best!”. I think that says it all. Your love for each other is inspiring. You help each other so much already and I know you will give each other invaluable gifts as you grow into adulthood.
So today you walk into another phase of your life. Today is a rite of passage for you, for me. And you know what? I don’t have dread anymore. I am no longer scared of the future, of others. It’s not that I don’t think ugliness exists out there anymore, I certainly know it does. But your personality, your gifts have helped me to overcome. You will help yourself. You will take care of yourself. You will change minds and hearts around you. Yes, you will be hurt a time or two. You are sensitive and perceptive. So was I, and I too have been hurt. We all get hurt through our lives. But I am more confident in your abilities, your strength, your determination, your intelligence, than I have ever been of anything in my life.
You are amazing. You have changed me in so many ways. My heart soars that you are mine, not to keep but to let go of. Not to hold on my hip, but to hold my hand. YOU have protected me Tarenne Aubrey. YOU have taught me. YOU have loved me like no other. YOU are so special, not because you have Down syndrome but because of who you are. I literally thank God each day for giving you to our family, for gifting us with your presence. I literally have my breath taken away more times than I can count through out each day by you. Your smile, your sparkle, your humor, your heart, your mind, your compassion, your love overwhelm me.
Thank you my girl for growing, for ridding me of my fear, for giving me more confidence than I could have ever dreamt of having before you. I look forward to this stage where we walk side by side, holding hands and helping each other, teaching each other. I will teach you the ways of the world and you will teach me the ways of heaven.
I love you! Mommy