Grow Old With Me….

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additional needs, down syndrome, down's syndrome, equality, family, inclusion, love, pregnancy, special needs


We are not ones for overblown romantic gestures in this house. If a bouquet arrives at the office I know it’s not for me and I am really, honestly fine about it.   We have own “special” ways of showing that we care, all hugely underwhelming and not very text book, for example, I will find my car has been scraped and defrosted when I turn up to it or my toothbrush has been loaded up with toothpaste in the morning. I get a cup of tea in bed every morning.  That kind of thing. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. True to form, we had an earlier conversation where we made a pact to not buy each other a card. We will go out for a child-free meal at some point but I am really not precious about which day. I am not negating the importance of the date but, well, it IS just a date. One thing does stand out to me MASSIVELY though in the decade or so that we have been together. It is without a doubt the most moving and thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me. As a fairly quiet and conscious person who hates the limelight (him, not me!), I was fighting a losing a battle to have a first dance at our wedding. I *knew* the Dirty Dancing routine, complete with lift, was sadly an absolute no-goer. I tried pitching Elton’s Are You Ready?, which happened to be the soundtrack of Sky Sports football coverage at the time, to little enthusiasm. Then one day I was getting into my car, all packed and ready for a three hour road trip home (seems bonkers now to think of the freedom I had then). As I got in, simon handed me a CD. “Listen to this on the way home. It’s what id like for the first dance”. Delighted at just the fact he had agreed to partake in the tradition but slightly worried it was Octopusses Garden or Delaney had a Donkey. A few minutes later I was blubbing my eyes out. Music has that effect on me at the best of times, but this was something else. A beautiful, beautiful melody and the most meaningful lyrics. I had never heard it before but I remember having goosebumps all the way up my arms. I only listened to it a few times as each time I played it I welled up again. I knew that the lyrics would one day take on a whole new depth of meaning, particularly the final verse. I wondered what our lives together would face, knowing that we would one day face challenges. Before we even celebrated our first anniversary, I gave birth to Seb. It seems ridiculous and definitely very selfish now that it was such a tough and heartbreaking time. I dared to listen to the song again and it both broke my heart and put it back together again.  I remember thinking how the lyrics took on a whole new meaning too – a vision of Seb, growing old with us – which just shows how deep my ignorance was rooted back then. It was very much my husband who made me see Seb as Seb, as a baby, as my son and not as “Down’s syndrome” or a list of characteristics in a book. He seemed fine with the diagnosis from the very day we were told and while it was no big deal for him, he allowed me to wallow in self pity, to grieve and cry, all the while carrying on as any proud new father. So, 7 years since that dance and 6 years since the arrival of Seb, this song means just as much as it did then – and still makes me cry. Every time. I have absolutely no doubt we will face bigger and tougher challenges in life, in fact it seems odd to me now that I ever saw having Seb as anything but wonderful, I am too scared to think what may or may not lay ahead, but there is no point worrying about the unknown. What I do know is, I absolutely would not be without Seb. Honestly, honestly, I don’t ever see him as anything but Seb, as an equal part of this family and as my first born son. He has taught me, and others, so, so much. I am immensely proud of him, he has totally shaped, and continues to shape, who I am today and, I believe, has made me a better person. MARCH 2013 GROW OLD WITH ME, John Lennon Grow old along with me The best is yet to be, When our time has come We will be as one God bless our love God bless our love Grow old along with me Two branches of one tree Face the setting sun When the day is done God bless our love God bless our love Spending our lives together Man and wife together World without end World without end Grow old along with me Whatever fate decrees We will see it through For our love is true God bless our love God bless our love

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