Shortly after we brought Dylan home from the hospital, some friends stopped by for a visit. Rob and his buddy were catching up while the two of us gals talked about Dylan, his birth and diagnosis. As I sat there, holding my sweet boy, she looked at me and said, "You know, you're like Mary.” I gave her a puzzled look. "Mary who?" I asked. I could not think of anyone I knew named Mary that had a child with Down syndrome. She quickly responded, "Mary, the mother of Jesus.”
She could see the quizzical look on my face and began to explain her thought process. She explained that just as the Lord had chosen Mary to be the mother of Jesus, the Savior of the World, the Lord had chosen to place Dylan with us. She went on to say that while babies are born everyday, not everyone has the opportunity to have a child with Down syndrome or other special needs. It took everything in me to refrain from weeping. I knew who Mary was. I had heard her story all of my life, but in that moment I was beginning to see her in a different light. I was seeing Mary as a mother, a women who had gone through labor pains, who had nursed, who had changed her wee son's diapers.
I was a bit overwhelmed - again - and just wanted to shut my mind off. Of course, I couldn't. Why God? Why did you choose me to be Dylan's mom? I am not done with school. I am still a newlywed! A child with special needs go to mother who already has a few kids....someone experienced and seasoned!
I have pondered my friend’s statement at various levels for over nine years. Since Dylan's birth, two movies have been released that focus on the birth and death of Christ: “The Nativity Story” and “The Passion of the Christ”. These two movies focus on completely different aspects of his life. I often close my eyes and see particular scenes of each these movies. In “The Nativity Story”, I see Mary in labor, holding her first born son. In” The Passion of the Christ”, I see Mary walking through the temple...her on one side, a representation of Satan on the other, staring each other down.
I often feel like this is how I view the world. I accept Dylan for all that he is. I see the great work that the Lord is doing in his life but many in this world see him as an imperfect human, flawed by a single chromosome. They believe that his life is a waste. They believe that he has nothing of value to offer the world or himself, only a lifetime of pain and heartbreak. Many have viewed the birth, life and death of Christ this way: his purpose a lie, his life a waste.
Mary is often in my thoughts. In fact, it's when I'm not thinking about her that I struggle with my role as the mother of child with Down syndrome the most. I think to when she first learned she was pregnant, still a virgin and not yet formerly wed. She endured such ridicule. She was taunted and people looked at her with disgust. These were acts that would not end as time passed, but deepen and transfer to her son. As she watched her baby boy grow into a toddler, an adolescent and eventually a young man, she had to watch from the sideline as her son endured these things. Yes, she knew the Lord had a plan and purpose, but she was still human and I believe she ached for her son, the child she had rocked and sung to when he was just a baby. She knew the calling and purpose of her son's life, but to sit and watch him be mocked and teased must have broken her heart.
As mothers, we want nothing but the best for our children. We want them be healthy, happy individuals who are welcomed by the world we live in. We don't want them to be seen as outcasts or different. We don't want them to succumb to peer pressure. Instead, we want them to be role models. As Dylan has grown, my role as his mother has evolved, just as it does for every mother raising a child. My human intuition is to shield him and protect him, but this would be selfish. With each passing day, I must do everything within my power to create an independent life for him, in whatever capacity that may be. I also know that as he grows into this independence, he will be preyed upon by certain individuals.
It is in these moments my heart breaks and I wonder how Mary did it. How did she bear to see her son beaten and tortured? How did she bear to see him put on the cross? I'm sure she wondered, Lord, is this really the only way? I know the Lord has a purpose for Dylan's life. I know that there will be situations - there have been already - where I think, Must it be Dylan that teaches the world this lesson? Can't I do it instead? Of course that would be too easy. To be completely honest, I've already experienced those moments of, Oh, I get it....sorry for asking so many questions. Yeah, I should have just gone along with it from the beginning. I'll try harder next time, God, I promise!
I live each day by faith and faith alone. I believe it is through this action that Mary was able to be the mother of Jesus Christ. It is how I can be the mother of Dylan. I pray daily that I can find a similar strength, courage and grace that was shown by Mary in all that she was able to bear by being the mother of Jesus.