The Perfect Gift: A Down's Syndrome Story

Sushila Ailawadi   |   April 3, 2018 

Born thirty-one years ago, my middle son David is special in every way. He is special because God intervened dramatically into our lives at his birth. Special, also because in my mind, life got immediately divided into pre-David and post-David eras. Like a cataclysmic earthquake, things were never the same again!  Special, because David was a very significant shaping influence in the lives of us and our other children. Profoundly affecting our family dynamics in every way. Nothing was simple any longer. Everything was determined based on him and his needs. And lastly, special, because he was born with Down’s syndrome and Autistic spectrum disorder. A defining label that just meant I had to find new meanings and new definitions for what life was all about.

Learning to be a good mother is not something that just happens. It will not happen automatically because it’s what I want. At the best of times parenting is an adventure (you never know what awaits you around the corner) and it can be hard work. It must be intentional, and you are always on the job. It is a privilege and an awesome job, to play such a significant role in the life of another human. It is the most important task we will ever be engaged in. Nothing should take priority over this.

I have often wished I could have started again, at the very beginning, with all the lessons and wisdom acquired over the years. Inexperienced and still clueless as I was, David was my second child. I had at least some experience with my firstborn who was four at the time. Though it feels like we bungled our way through the process of parenting, having David has been a unique experience with very different challenges. However, I can honestly say, looking after him has been fruitful and enriching in every way. From the wealth of lessons learned over the years, here are just a few...

David has taught us to not let the outward matter too much. Keeping up any pretence of appearances was not for us. With his eccentric attitude to life we found it impossible to go unnoticed anywhere we went. Inevitably, for one reason or the other, all eyes would end up on us. We learned to take that in our stride. Having a fairly thick skin is a useful gift to acquire!

I remember one occasion at a restaurant when all the children were still quite young, I noticed my daughter mouthing something to someone at a nearby table. ‘Don't stare, don't stare, don’t stare.’  This to someone who embarrassedly averted their eyes from whatever it was David was doing.  We learned to enjoy and laugh at situations that we could not control. David was not too bothered about social niceties and we have had to learn to not be too concerned either. He has a flamboyant personality and wants to be a part of anything that’s going on in his world. He is the freest person I know! Had he been able, he might well have aspired to be a rock star. As it is, all the worlds a stage and he is happy to perform!

God helped us to grow closer to Him in our desperation and need. We understood with all our hearts the meaning of unconditional love. We live in a world that measures and evaluates our worth in innumerable but superficial ways. How I look, how much I weigh, my age, my shape. My skills and abilities, my qualifications, how much I earn, if I’m married and to whom. In the face of such a calculated scrutiny, the world can leave you feeling many things. Not least a sense of worthlessness and inadequacy. Does my life really matter? Am I significant in the grand scheme of things?

David taught us to value life as a precious gift from God. We learned to understand that every life is significant, and has meaning, purpose and beauty. We experienced this amazing love of God through our shared journey with David. We experienced what it means to love and serve without expecting anything in return. David helped us to understand what sacrificial loving was all about. What an awesome opportunity to understand who God is a little better! How would we have known without having David in our lives? He lives his life in an ocean of love. Not just his family, but his church. The community of those that make up his world.

Another critical lesson I learned was how little I was in control of anything. Becoming David’s mother at the age of thirty made the bottom fall off my world. The feeling of knowing where I was headed and what I wanted to do with my life and everything in-between tumbled into a vast abyss of unknowing. Suddenly there was helplessness, and at times, hopelessness. I found myself powerless to do anything about what mattered so much. My education was of no avail. I had to throw myself on Gods mercy and grace as never before. I had to discover in my need, the reality and miracle of God’s love and grace. My questions of "Why God?" were answered with the finality of “Because . . . ”  Over the years I have understood what that means. "Because I love you. Because My ways are higher than yours. Because David is my instrument of righteousness in your life." And like leaven in dough, God has done just that. We were changed from the inside out.

God came near to us through David. "If you have done it to the least of these . . . " serving David has felt like a privilege and an honour. God has chosen to identify Himself with the poor, wounded and broken of this world. He hung on a cross for our sakes to show us another way. He became a servant and made Himself nothing. David reminds us each day of who God is. This little child in the body of a grown man has taught us that God only gives good gifts. David is God’s perfect gift to us.


Photo Credit : Unsplash

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Sushila Ailawadi

Sushila Ailawadi is in love with God and His creation. She lives in Delhi in a house crammed with plants, animals and anybody who cares to visit.

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2 comments on “The Perfect Gift: A Down's Syndrome Story”

  1. Aunty I am Shruthi’s friend. What you have written is so beautiful. Such valuable lessons for us to learn as parents. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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