After receiving the news while pregnant that Cody had Down syndrome, the best advice I received was to not fast forward into the future too much. It was ok to go there, but I was encouraged to quickly get back to the present. That was especially good advice to hear during that traumatic time as I battled so much fear of the unknown. I had no idea what to expect raising a son with Down syndrome and it was very easy for me to craft a future in my mind full of all my fears and uncertainty. I would speculate and assume my upcoming years would be full of gloom and negativity and worry and unhappiness. I created this image of a life dragged down by having a child with Down syndrome.
I know now that this is not the future I will experience and I would have lost so much time surrounded by this false worry if I wouldn’t have taken the advice to stay focused on the present. Spending time worrying about the future is a waste of time. You can’t control it, you can’t predict it and it usually doesn’t end up as bad as where your mind takes you. I have to constantly remind myself of this.
Cody’s heart surgery at 4 ½ months old fixed the majority of the issues with the holes in his heart, but he still has a leaky valve. Cody sees his cardiologist once a month to make sure everything looks ok. He is also on medication that he takes three times a day. For 29 days of each month I don’t even think about Cody’s health problems, but once a month I have the brutal reminder that his body is not functioning as well as we would like. My time at the cardiologist is always full of questions. Most are questions that the doctor doesn’t know the answer to. Is he going to need another surgery? How will these issues affect his growth? Will he not be able to do any physical activities because of his heart condition? And he too tells me to not get ahead of myself. Stay in the present. If we have to take any other action we will deal with that when it comes. For now, he is fine, enjoy him. Don’t miss out on how great he is doing now by drowning in the unknown.
Although I feel a lot less worried about having a child with Down syndrome then I did in the early days of Cody’s diagnosis, there are still so many questions and there always will be. How old will he be when he walks? How well will he talk? What will his schooling look like? Will he ever be able to live on his own? Will he have any more health issues? These are all good questions, but why dwell on them now when the answers are not there?
Too often we stress about a future that we cannot control or predict. I am striving to focus on the present. The present is raising a little boy that is full of life, full of happiness and so motivated to learn and grow. What he can and cannot do in the future doesn’t matter. It is what he is doing today that brings me joy and happiness that I must embrace and relish. I don’t want to miss the wonderful moments with my happy baby who is full of smiles and energy. Let’s worry less about tomorrow and find reasons to enjoy today. Fixating on an unknown future will rob us of the joy that the present is offering us.