Eleven weeks ago I gave birth to my second daughter, Hope. As we began to adjust to life as a family of four, it became clear to me that each of our girls is unique. Not only are they unique from each other, they are unique from their father & me as well. Harper, my eldest daughter, has luscious, curly and at times, tangly hair. I’m jealous. She has the hair I’ve always wanted. You see, my hair is straight. Because her hair is so different from mine, at first I found it hard to manage. But after 4 years of trial and error, I have found a groove and her hair care routine is no longer daunting, in fact, it’s fun.
So you may be thinking, what does my daughter’s beauty routine have to do with Down syndrome? It’s as simple as this, diversity is beautiful. For me, celebrating the world with it’s vast array of colors, abilities, shapes, and sizes is what makes life fulfilling, whether it’s curly hair or an extra chromosome.
I became an advocate for the Down syndrome community quite by accident. I was a music teacher at the time and one of my students introduced me to a family who had a son with Down syndrome. Having little experience working with children with Down syndrome, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of love, joy, and vigor for life that exuded from his tiny body. While his diagnosis might have handed him a long list of limitations, he was determined to live his life to the fullest. Meanwhile, as I reflected upon my own life, I quickly realized how much I take for granted and often forget to be grateful for what I have. From that brief interaction with him I was inspired to appreciate my own gifts. This is when I began to see life through a new lens.