This past week, I went to my first Mommy & Me class with Peyton. I had started Mommy & Me with Chad when he was 6 weeks old. It was an experience that I really enjoyed. It was my time together with Chad, meeting other moms and babies, talking about all of the struggles, experiences, and joys of being a new mom. It was such an amazing support system and we met the most magnificent people that have become some of our closest friends.
I wasn’t sure I was going to participate in a Mommy & Me class with Peyton. I had thought about it a few months ago, and I knew, emotionally, I wasn’t there yet. Recently, as Peyton has improved and progressed, and as we are feeling more comfortable with our new schedule, I have felt like this was the right time. During our first class, I was unexpectedly overwhelmed. I must say there was a moment when I thought it would be best that I excuse myself, fight or flight. When it was time to introduce myself and Peyton, I was flooded with emotion. Having to discuss Peyton and her diagnosis was all too much for me. This was the first time I had been in a room full of moms and babies the same age as Peyton, and sometimes when I verbalize the words “Peyton has Prader-Willi Syndrome”, it just hits me that wow, Peyton has Prader-Willi Syndrome. As I was sitting in the room, I felt for the first time a feeling of judgement. This was not coming from the others in the room, it was more of an internal feeling, it was a fear of Peyton being judged. I do not want Peyton to be judged, now or ever. I don’t want her to feel different. I do not want people to define her by her diagnosis because she is so much more.
This brought me back to an article I had read recently in my newsletter from the Prader-Will California Foundation. A question was asked, “Does anyone’s child or adult child with PWS experience bullying and if so, how do you help your child/adult child respond to it?” The father that responded told a beautiful story about attending the special olympics with some friends. He noted that while the athletes were playing, he saw in the short distance three teenage boys making fun of the kids. He walked over to them and although he was angry and frustrated, he decided to take a different approach. The father smiled at them and told them how fortunate they were to be born in good health. He went on to say that these kids are the kindest people they will ever meet and that it is not their fault that they have a disability, and really, all they want is what you want – to be accepted, loved and respected. The boys were taken aback, one even had tears in his eyes and before he knew it, the boys were playing with the kids from the Special Olympics.
No matter what your situation is, if you have a disability or not, we truly desire the freedom of being loved and accepted for who we are. As we get older, I think we care less about that, but we still care. Brian Tracy wrote it perfectly, “the greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance.” Isn’t that so true? Isn’t that the greatest gift that we can give to others and such an important gift that we can teach our children? To be loved and accepted. To love and to accept.