Last week I let Gigi grow up. I stopped holding her back. I wasn’t holding her back consciously but I may have been subconsciously. It’s not just me, it’s the whole family. We do a lot for her, we always have. We love her. She starts to crawl to something we pick her up and take her to her desired destination. She’s hungry, we feed her so she doesn’t have to struggle feeding herself. She cries, we run to her instead of giving her a chance to communicate what it wrong. But we don’t mind. She needs us and we enjoy taking care of her. Our baby, Gigi.
In a few days she’ll turn three. Just those words make me so sad. Three seems so old. I no longer have a baby and she’s definitely my last. But also age three enters a new stage. Not only just more of a kid stage but an unknown terrain when it comes to Down syndrome. New challenges. More will be expected of her and what happens if she doesn’t meet those expectations? She’s not yet an independent walker and she’s not talking like a typical three year old. All of this means so much more at age three than it did at ages two or one.
But this week I decided to stop being fearful and overwhelmed of what lies ahead and remind myself how we enjoyed her first three years thoroughly. There is no reason why the next years won’t be more enjoyable. It’s time to give her a little bit of a push because that’s all she needs – just a little push to succeed. My body is tired of carrying around a 30 pound almost-three-year-old. I’ve monitored her feeding way too long, I’m tired of giving her one piece of food at a time. Yes, children with Down syndrome have their struggles but we need to let them try. They’ll make mistakes but eventually they’ll learn. One thing that I’ve learned about Down syndrome is that children with Down syndrome will learn the skill, it just may take them a little longer but they will learn it eventually.
Last week I stopped carrying her from room to room and instead I’m now holding her hand and walking with her. I’m no longer feeding her with a spoon, I’m making her do it. I’m no longer giving her one piece of bite-sized food at a time but I’m giving her a bowl full and seeing if she actually does take one at a time like I tell her or if she stuffs her mouth. And you know what? She’s feeding herself with a spoon. It’s a little messy but she’s doing it, like a big girl. She’s feeding herself bite-size pieces one of the time. No overstuffing, gagging, and choking but pacing herself, like a big girl. And just the other morning, while I was working on the computer and she was playing independently I saw her stand up and walk out of the room. Like a big girl. Then she came back in and with my phone recording she walked to the other end of the room.
So even though I’m sad that one phase is over I need to remember that I enjoyed it and that I will continue to enjoy this ride.
What were the causes of Gigi’s delay? Down syndrome or me? I’d say a little of both. Even if I’m not ready for Gigi to grow up she’s definitely showing that she’s ready to turn three.