We are all so very different. God made us how He wanted us to be made, for only He knows the plan for our lives. We all fight battles in our lives. Some are big, some small, but all are important to us as individuals and even as communities.
There's a resounding question in the parenting world about what to do when your child has a hurdle they have to surmount. Whether it's something like Madi fights every day, Down Syndrome, learning disabilities & developmental delays, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or any number of issues we as humans can have, it doesn't matter. In this, as parents, we all face the same gut-wrenching question of how to handle it all. Do we push our children to be more, to do more? Do we just let them take the reins and follow their lead? Pretend like they are completely "normal" (whatever normal means anyway..I don't know if there is such a thing) or make them aware of the challenges they face as a result of their specific issue?
I have gotten plenty of criticism for the road I have taken when it comes to Madi. There have been whispers about the fact that we took so many pictures of her-some that are hard to look at. I mean, physically & mentally painful to view. But here's the way I see it: why hide it? Why shove it down and pretend that it's not there? No, I won't do that. To me it's doing my daughter a dishonor; almost taking her for granted. The photos and memories serve many purposes. They educate, showing others what children fighting heart diseases face each and every day. They open doors for questions to be asked, and hopefully then for more of a push for funding and research. Someday they will reaffirm to Madi what I have said all along-that she is a fighter, a warrior and a miracle. That when you fall down 5 times, you get up 6 times. That we never, ever gave up on her and never will. But perhaps the most important thing they do for us as a family is to teach us all how very precious life is. What a wonderful thing it is to be blessed with TWO beautiful daughters, and how thankful we are for that. Though those times brought me to my knees many a time I picked myself up off the floor and fought the fight that my daughter could not fight alone. I had so much fear and so many questions. I was losing my confidence in God and faith. But He was always there, by my side, ready to pick me up and carry me when I didn't think there was one single more footstep in this body of mine. So I embrace those photos. They are the proof that miracles DO exist.
Madi's tiny chest bears physical scars from all that she has beaten. Though most of the time we do not see them as they are covered by her clothing, they are there. Why hide it? Why make it seem like what she went through isn't important? By trying to will it away, what message does that send? To me it says "there's something wrong with you, so don't talk about it." That's not the lesson I want her to take away from all this. I want her to realize that it's ok to be different. Every single person on Earth has their strengths, their weaknesses, their victories and defeats. They are what makes us who we are.
So yes, I will continue to tote my camera around. I will be the mom on the sidelines when my girls score a goal, twirl in their tutus, ride their bikes, or sing at a school concert. I will document their lives. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Because every little piece of their life is a piece of their soul, and in turn a piece of me. I am proud of every silly, sweet, scared, whiny, laughing, crying, bratty, witty, smart, loving molecule of their bodies. I love every freckle and every scar. And it's my hope that they too will learn to love themselves in this way, and celebrate who they are.
In a nutshell: God doesn't make junk!