Most of the material I see on Facebook about disability rubs me the wrong way. Even the super positive stuff I often find still misses some subtle and important point or feeds into negative stereotypes or roles of charity/pity. But this “Anything but sorry” video by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society is pretty good.
It isn’t a complicated message. And it is self-evident once communicated. Yet, it doesn’t seem to be wisdom commonly held in our society.
When my son was born he was critically ill. We weren’t sure he would live. We ended up in a Children’s Hospital far from our home. I was worried and frightened. My family was worried and frightened. Our head space was all stress.
On his third day of life we received a large gift basket from our dear friend, Darcy Elks. The basket included a card congratulating me on the birth on my son.
It was a quick wake-up call. I was still worried and frightened. But I was also clearly focused on celebrating him. And I was clear about helping other people to celebrate him. He is worth celebrating!
Fast forward a few months. I received a call from an acquaintance, Jane. She called to tell me how sorry she was about my son…
Luckily Darcy had already ensured I had the right mindset. So Jane didn’t influence my son’s life. She just hurt my feelings and made me angry. But what if Darcy hadn’t sent me that congratulatory gift basket and card? What if I only had people like Jane in my life? Saying you are sorry that someone has a child with a disability can be more than just hurtful and offensive. It could define a negative mindset that will poison the life of that child and that family.
Don’t be like Jane.
Be like Darcy.
“Because every baby deserves a warm fucking welcome.”