I've heard it everywhere. The doctors office, the playground, on the phone with a friend, posted on Facebook, in movies, in music, on tv. Iv'e seen it printed in books, magazines and newspapers. I've even said it. The r-word is carelessly strewn about in our everyday language that most people don't even think twice. I was the same way. Trying to justify my reasoning by saying "I didn't mean it that way." But all that changed when I became a mom to a child who has Down syndrome. The first time I held Malachi, I fell in love. His sweet little face, tiny hands and almond shaped eyes were almost to much to bear. He was the CUTEST lil' man, I couldn't get enough of him. To this day, I am drawn to his smile, his snuggles, his courage and strength. It is no different with Elijah. Before we brought Eli home, I questioned whether or not I could love him as much as his brother and the first time I held him, my fears were cast aside. My boys are my heart, my tangible gift from God. I strive to provide them with a home that will encourage, strengthen, love, satisfy, and protect. I surround them with people who love and cherish them. I pray that they will be included in church activities, that they will put all their faith in God, find joy in everlasting friendships, fall in love, hold successful jobs, be surrounded by friends who accept them and that their hearts will be protected from this world. A world where appearance, ability and social status is , what you are judged on rather than your heart. You see, my children will never steal your child's lunch money, they will never laugh when you answer a question wrong, they will never dislike you because your pants are to short, they could care less about your hairstyle or the car you drive, they wont judge you by the size of your house, they wont steal your girlfriend and they will never call you a name. I can tell you that if you open your heart to a child with special needs, you will be taught lesson after lesson on strength, courage, unconditional love, acceptance, encouragement, loyalty, humbleness, peace and kindness. The list really could go on and on.
So let me ask you, do your children say the r-word? Is it allowed in your house, on your basketball team or in your classroom? Do you yourself use the r-word? Please know, that when you use that word you are making my children seem less than. You are belittling a Child of God, whom He created perfectly. And above all you are hurting their feelings and my feeling and the thousands of other people out there who are living or love a person with an intellectual disability.
Please join the cause and spread the word to end the word by visiting R-word.org and sign the pledge. Help us educate our communities and create a place of acceptance when my kids can go to school without fear. Do it for Malachi and Elijah, do it because you love us and do it because its the right thing to do.