Part of it is because it is a personal challenge to post something every day. Part of it is because I feel like I needed an excuse to start writing again, and I know that when I start to write more often it becomes easier to write. I find that I have things to say, and even when I don't, I enjoy the process and I enjoy sharing about Cora.
For me, promoting "Down syndrome awareness" started as something pretty simple. I started writing as a way to communicate with friends and family, but also to express some of the thoughts, feelings, joys and worries I was discovering as I went through the life-changing process of becoming a parent while beginning to intimately consider how disability is perceived and treated in our culture.
Knowing how much the idea of Down syndrome scared me when Cora was born, I wanted the people I cared about to have the chance to see Cora like I saw her; to see her as a person. I hoped that by sharing, I could help gradually dissolve some of that fear, so others could be more accepting of her. Perhaps my initial motivation was selfish, as my goal was really to help create acceptance for Cora as an individual, not necessarily for the disability community as a whole. The feedback was positive, so I felt like things were heading in the right direction.
Since then I've had a lot of opportunities to consider just how vast that endeavor toward awareness and acceptance in our culture really is. I have heard enough perspectives to break my heart and make me feel like I'm up against the impossible, and then to give me hope and inspiration, only to make my head spin.
There are so many BIG discussions about awareness and acceptance for those with differences. We need to keep talking about these things: About being seen and appreciated as different and unique individuals. About how knowing one person with a disability does not mean you know all people with that disability. About how we want society to see our children for who they are, rather than judging them by the way they look or act, or by how they learn or speak. About listening to those with disabilities and remembering that it is about them first. About recognizing that what makes people valuable is not only what they produce. About what kind of world we want our children to live in and how we can help get there.
We live in a time when there are so many voices weighing in, so many people wanting to promote awareness and acceptance, and often in very different ways.
And I want to be a part of these conversations. I want to keep listening and keep thinking. I want to hear the voices of the parents and the self-advocates and the voices of those that aren't speaking up for themselves. There is room for so many voices and so many points of view. Sometimes I don't know exactly where I fit into it all, or exactly what I want my voice to say.
But in the meantime I am learning. I am finding a voice, little by little, and sharing when I feel brave or inspired. I may not be reaching an enormous audience, but those that I have reached have shown me the waves that even my small ripples can make. And the people that are teaching me are helping make more waves. And I just can't wait to see how Cora herself will continue to impact the world.
Our individual voices and stories, as small as they may be, can still make an impact. Even if we're not pounding the pavement or writing laws, even if we help only one person at a time, or work toward one goal at a time, we can be making small changes. And lots of small changes can add up to some BIG things. That, at least, is my hope.