Shared Experience

imageI hung with the guys last night. Yes, I know how unusual that sounds. I hardly ever get out of the house aside from work and ferrying the children around

*When I do get out it’s generally for poetry reading on Thursday nights

*Last night was a Wednesday

And by guys I mean the men who share one thing in common, that we all have children with Down syndrome, but it turned into so much more than that. I’ll admit I was skeptical that men from all over this area could truly come together and have good, quality conversation. I was dead wrong.

Never underestimate the power of shared experience. We started the evening talking about doctor and hospital experience, and it went from there. It’s funny how men from many different walks of life who might never have met in the first place, by nature of becoming parents to children with Down syndrome suddenly gained a large connection that we will always share. It was interesting to hear how the other kids react to change, how there is that tendency to run when at all possible, and how easy it is for them to get frustrated.

We talked about how we felt when we first found out the news, the shifting moods and the adjustment after the acceptance. The conversation moved on to our wives and how strong each and every one of them is. We discussed all the support that we’ve received, and helped others with resources so that they could get that support too. No, there wasn’t any weeping or sharing of strong emotional feelings with each other (we’ll leave that to the ladies), but there was this strong bond and feeling of camaraderie that made me even prouder to be a parent of a child with Down syndrome. We are strong.

lAnd that was just for the first hour. By then the food was making its way to us, we had finally gotten seated, and the real conversations began. That’s when we got to subjects like Seinfeld, Jim Rome, fantasy football, and education. It’s when we began discussing Disney World, home renovation, building fences, and vegetarianism. Whoever said that guys don’t really talk to each other should have been upstairs at the Celtic Harp last night. We pulled out all the stops. By the time I checked the time on my phone it was already 8:30.

Believe me, Down syndrome isn’t something wonderful that you wish for as a parent, but it’s not a choice, and it’s our children. We want the absolute best for them. We share that hope and that drive. I could clearly see it on every single face last night, that weariness that comes with it, but also that joy that transforms the weariness into something other, something like magic. Just as our children are strong and work hard, we too know the motivation, the perseverance, and the fulfillment that can come from being parents of children who are so unique, who are so special.

Last night was fun for many reasons, not the least of which was finding common ground and expanding from there. We even started planning on other events. That’s what I call making the most of shared experience, helping each other because we’ve all been there, and we’re all going through it together. And that’s a good start.

Sam

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