“People with Down syndrome are slowly but surely being eradicated from our society,” writes occasional columnist NICK JENSEN
MY little girl is about to turn 11 and she can hardly contain her excitement. Birthdays are very special when you are young. There’s cake, presents and the thrill of being one year older, just that bit more grown up.
Of course, as we get older, well past those milestones of 16 and 21 things slowly get a bit different. Birthdays lose a bit of their shine. I’m certainly in that territory. Indeed I’ve got a significant milestone coming up this year and I’m inclined to stay firmly in denial.
That’s been my spouse’s policy for quite a few years now. If he can get away with it, he likes to let his own birthdays slip past, without celebration. I can understand that thinking. After all, once you hit middle age, well it’s all downhill from there, right?
But should it be that way? Birthdays are always meant to be a celebration of getting through another year of life.
I got thinking about this recently when I was talking to a friend who nearly died from a car accident in her teens and then spent years dealing with very serious health issues. Every birthday is an achievement for her and a chance to celebrate that she has made it this far. That made me think about how important it is to celebrate all the milestones of life.
Parenting, after all, is just one long line of milestones. When I think back to those endless sleepless nights with number one and then number two; fretting myself grey over their feeding (or lack of it), their eating (or lack of it), their sleeping (or lack of it), their toilet training (or lack of it), I didn’t think I would ever get to this point. But here we are. My daughter is now in the final year of primary school, while my boy is in high school.
Looking ahead there are pimples, teenage heartache, exams, driving, jobs and maybe study or work far from home. Yes, there are still many milestones ahead.
And, hopefully, many birthdays to celebrate yet. So perhaps I’ll bite the bullet and celebrate big this year – not only for me but for all of our family including my husband, who really is a terrible stick-in-the-mud when it comes to acknowledging his own birthdays.
With every year comes new challenges, new achievements and new experiences, some good, maybe some not; but if you’re not having a birthday, the show’s over. So, better to light the candles and celebrate whatever the number on the odometer.