This is every conversation between me and any of Ella’s teachers:
Teacher: Hello, Mrs. Jennings! How-
It’s gotten to the point where they grab the tissue box as soon as they see me.
Yesterday, Ella threw a gigantic temper tantrum five minutes before the bus came.
“I not like my new classroom! I NOT LIKE IT!” It was a very typical tantrum, with the throwing of oneself on the ground and kicking and shrieking. A lot of shrieking. The bus came and went, and I carried Ella to the car. She buried her face into my neck and whimpered.
“You love school,” I said
“I want my old class,” she said.
We pulled into the parking lot and snaked our way through yellow busses and children eager to get to their classrooms. It is hard to walk with a five-year clinging to your leg. When we got to her room, she reluctantly showed me her new cubby. I peeled her coat off of her. Her teacher approached us.
Teacher: Hello Ella!
Teacher: Hello Mrs. Jennings!
Then, inexplicably, Ella decided all was cool and she smiled and pushed me out the door, though not before I could grab her and squeeze her while she squirmed.
“Bye mama!” She’s the only one of my kids who still calls me mama.
When the good people at the Kirch Center told me my daughter had a syndrome, I went to straight to the internet. Of course I did. Who wouldn’t? And within five minutes I found a forum of women who had chosen to abort their babies because of 22Q11.2 Syndrome.
It was at that moment that I thought, this is serious. This is not a minor obstacle. This is life-changing. And I didn’t respond with self-righteousness or arrogance or even a smidgen of confidence.
I was so afraid.
I was afraid for my daughter, for what her life would turn out to be. I was afraid I was inadequate for the task of raising her. I was afraid that I’d never be able to explain to anyone that my daughter has a rare genetic anomaly without crying.
It’s hard to live in fear. There’s this darkness I’m trying to run out from under. Ella, of course, is absolutely oblivious. She is sunshine and I’m living under a self-made shadow. It’s a rather horrible irony.
There is no solid ground when one is in a constant state of worry. The world is inconstant, tremulous, foggy. Every breath made in a state of anxiety is a breath wasted. Breath is better spent laughing with my daughter, running with my son, praying, writing.
Writing about Ella. About how this morning, the wind caught the hood of her jacket and I watched her ash-blonde hair fly out behind her. How she laughed and turned and waved at me. How those tiny legs climbed that big bus behind three older brothers who were, that day, angry that she accidentally wrecked their lego creation. How she has no… fear.
Ella is not afraid.
And if she’s not afraid, then why should I be?
"And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span? Matthew 6:27.