On comparing

Bennett: I’m very fond of Avery. (This is Bennett’s new favorite expression. He’s very fond of many things–Bailey and applesauce with cinnamon sugar on top and Scooby-Doo and leaves, raked into a pile, for jumping in.)

Me: I’m very fond of Avery, too.

Bennett: He doesn’t have words like these.

Me: It’s true. Avery doesn’t have as many words as you do.

Bennett: But he talks in sign language, like this. (He signs thank you and thirsty and sorry and book. Then he signs baby, because we all love that one.)

There was a time when a conversation like this might have made me sad. Because, in this conversation, it’s revealed that Avery’s differences are so clear, so much a part of him, they’re even apparant to a five-year-old.

But this exchange didn’t make me feel blue. Instead, it made me feel good, because it meant that Avery’s brothers are able to talk about him, and their perceptions of life with him, without fear or worry. I sometimes envy my kids, because they are growing up with an early understanding that difference isn’t bad, or good, but simply different. And their world is richer for it.

As is mine.

I am better for knowing all of you. (I’m very fond of you!)
I am better for risking my heart.
I am better for loving Avery.

I hold in one hand hand all the good that has come into our lives with Avery’s birth; in the other, all the hard things. Which hand is heavier, which one means more? I don’t have an answer. Everything is connected, there is no one without the other. All I know is that my hands are full, and this fullness feels like life.


23 thoughts on “On comparing

  1. Hello Jennifer,
    I found you on the internet today because of your husband Tom’s books which I read a few years back and started writing a song about the Bitter Root region where you live and the love of that life. I grew up on ranches with a horse trainer/rodeo cowboy for a father. I didn’t want that life for myself but it is deep in my blood and bones.
    I loved Tom’s books, the books had so much about you and your children, I found myself wondering from time to time how life is for you all. Today I was playing my guitar again and the song came back to me (it is only an idea so far). I went to my computer to see if I could find if Tom had written something new or? Then I remembered about the book you were writing so I looked you up and have read some of your blogs and will pass this on to one of my friends who has a son with Down Syndrome who is a marvel really.
    Thank you to both you and Tom for sharing with all of us.
    xo Donna

  2. Our 3 year old (Lexi) has DS; our 2 year old (Taylor) does not. Not quite twins, but I tell ya sometimes it feels like they are! I love hearing how much Bennet understands about Avery and can see the same understanding between my girls. I still have days where Taylor says something about her sister that makes me somehow sad, but most of the time I feel like she’s hereto help her sister and she’s just doing her job. 🙂

  3. Beautiful. Our older son is just starting to notice the differences between Charlie and other babies. I’m unsure of how to address the issue, but for now we are taking it day by day. Thank you for sharing such a lovely story and for again reminding me of the beauty found in a life where both hands are full.

  4. Jennifer, between this post and your last I hardly know what to say…your writing touches all of us so deeply, especially me. Sigh. I don’t have the words you do to express it. But I love it. I’m truly fond of it, too.


  5. Hej It is Christina fr Prince Vince

    Someone is steeling our wordpress entries and posting them on an other blog.

    I got this comment topday and checked it out. It is true 😦

    Another site: www dot downsyndrome dot com is stealing your posts, and any other posts which have a WordPress tag of “down syndrome”. Just go there and scroll.

    I contacted customer supprt, more than that I do not know what to do???


  6. Jennifer, this post was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. I have had similar talks with my 3 and 8 yrs olds about their new brother.

  7. Wonderful post. I so appreciate your honesty. So often we hear that the good always outweighs the bad. While the love always trumps all, it doesn’t always make the hardships less difficult. I too am a better person for having John in my life, but I don’t deny that it has come at a cost. I often feel a sadness that I never knew before; however with that sadness comes perspective and appreciation.

    Like Bennett, my daughters are their brother’s biggest champions. I often finding myself learning from then. How proud I am of how easily and beautifully they have accepted that their brother is different. I hope it is not just their innocence that has made them so open.

    A full life. What more could we want?

  8. I often wish Gabe had a sibling. Just for the pleasure of being easy with one another, differences included. My sister lives on the other side of Canada and I miss her terribly. I do. There is such an easiness when I am with her. And yet, our relationship can be tumultuous and hard, our differences shining brightly. When you write about the balance of good and hard, I see this for many relationships I have in my life. Your poignant words touched many parts of me today. Just beautifully written!

  9. When my daughter was born I thought of all the things that might not be… and prayed that God would give me the ability to be thankful for all the things that made my daughter so special. Each day with my little darling makes me realize that God has answered my prayers.
    “There is nothing we would not give
    to kiss you and believe that we could take
    What is to what can never be….” – Gulf of Araby.

    Your posts are always so beautiful!

  10. I’ve been reading here periodically since the birth of my niece. Your words are so often a salve. A month after baby was born, I bought Roadmap to Holland, and it educated me and brought me a modicum of understanding; for she is not my baby, but I do want to be her champion. Thanks so much, Jennifer.

  11. Heartfelt and lovely post!!!. That’s what the power of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE does to you, It makes you a better human being. Jennifer, as always, I’m very grateful to you for risking your heart and very fond of you too!!!. Much love. 😀

  12. Wow. Again, a beautiful, beautiful post. And as usual, it really resonates with me. I look at my kids, too, and am very grateful that they will grow up seeing Finn’s differences merely as part of the variety of life. I think it will make them better people. I think that they are lucky to experience something like this directly, right smack in the middle of their life, from an early age. It’s not a big deal to them. It’s not something that feels scary or tragic to them – it just IS.

  13. Lovely, lovely post, Jennifer. Like Jen wrote, it seems you have reaced into my mind and pulled out my thoughts today —about the balance that is not necessarily equal, but which creates such a rich life full of variety and surprises. xo

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