In the past few months, I have had a major life paradigm change. Even though I have been highly aware of many differences in myself, sometimes it still catches me by surprise. The other day a "Surprise--You are different!" moment came when the phone rang. The young man on the other end was calling from a business that allows people with disabilities to have a job and be independent by calling people and selling household items like light bulbs, freezer bags, kitchen utensils, etc. As soon as he started talking and explaining his cause, I knew I would order something...ANYthing to help him out. As he listed his products, I chose freezer bags...not because I NEEDED freezer bags, but because I was thinking about how my freezer is currently full of little bags of milk for my daughter--hours of pumping effort to give my daughter the best start that I possibly can. When I told him I would order, I could hear the excitement in his voice (I used to work for a phone-survey company in college and I know how exciting it is to get someone that will actually talk to you and be nice!) and I didn't even ask how much the box of 36 bags cost. As this polite young man struggled getting my address right (our street name is pretty tricky, even for those without disabilities) I admired him for sticking with a job that is at best, miserable--but one that he could do to be independent. I thought about his mother and how she is probably hoping that there are enough people in America that will buy household items from her son so he can do his own thing and strike out on his own--a mother who is probably hoping for the best for her son, just as I do for my children. When he finally told me my total--$25...I was slightly shocked--who will pay $25 for a box of gallon sized freezer bags??? And I realized that I will. As I hung up the phone, I had a moment of self-reflection. A year ago, I would have been off the phone within the first 5-10 seconds of the call...but now I would give that young man all the time in the world. I realize that I can't afford to pay $25 for freezer bags every time, but I hope they call again, next time I might need some light bulbs.
I'm a Midwestern girl who's lived in Missouri, Utah, Missouri again, Nebraska, Mississippi and Iowa. This is my story of life with my farmer-turned-professor husband, two exceptional little boys, and one extraordinary little girl who happens to have Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome. The stories you are about to read are all real; I couldn't make it up if I tried.