I was talking with someone recently when my current pregnancy came up. They said, "Wow, it's gonna be a long time before you have an empty nest!" It's true, but not for the reason you might think .
I don't think about it often, but it is something Rob and I have talked about on and off since becoming special needs parents. Most children are born, grow and leave "the nest". Sometimes they return at various ages and stages for a slew of reasons, but traditionally, the goal is that your child will lead their own life someday in their own home. I pray daily that this will be the case with our children - that they would lead successful, happy lives - on their own.
But we've got Dylan. It doesn't mean we won't have an empty nest someday, but it certainly spices things up. Individuals with Down syndrome attend various levels of higher education, live on their own, hold steady jobs and marry. This surprises people, but it's very true - and absolutely wonderful! Obviously, Rob and I want Dylan to be as independent as possible. Only time will tell.
The funny thing is that there is a part of me that selfishly wants Dylan home when he should be spreading his wings. It's not that I don't want him to grow and be independent - which he does daily - but I also know my red head well. Right now he likes to bolt and refuses to answer our calls when we attempt to find him, but I believe in time that will improve. There are things about him that will not change - and that's a good thing.
I got what I always wanted: a boy first and a girl last (well, what I thought would be my last!) God gave me exactly what I wanted in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Dylan is full of love and very sweet. He loves music. His current crush is Snow White. When Savannah is six, Dylan will be fourteen. I have a hunch that while Dylan will want to hang with his buddies, yet he's also a homebody and will be happy to play dress up with his sister and be Prince Charming when she's playing make believe.
When I think about the baby growing in my belly, it will be ten when Dylan is twenty. Dylan loves to read and I can already picture the two of them reading together. Dylan loves Disney movies and while I'm sure his tastes will mature, my gut tells me he will always have a place in his heart for Disney and all other kid based movies...making good company for his younger siblings!
Dylan continues to grow up daily. I've been sick and asked Dylan if he could pray for me. He said "Uh, yeah". I had no idea what he would say. He tends to say very particular prays for certain things - going to bed, blessing the food, etc. But I was asking him to do something new - pray a new prayer. While I don't recall his exacts words, it went something like this, "God, go to Disneyland, love mommy, mommy sick, feel better and go to doctor, Amen". To be honest, I was shocked. But I was also thrilled. It was another sign of maturity.
Maybe Dylan will attend college. Maybe he won't. I know he'll hold a job, but I have no idea what or where. He might marry, he might not. He might express the desire (and ability!) to leave the nest. If he does, it's going to take everything in me to not clip his wings.