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  • Writer's pictureAshley Rogers

Deep Breaths.

I’d already relearned how to do it three times, and every time I forgot what I’d learned before. This time, sitting at my computer with my design program open, I was on the verge of tears. I was so frustrated at myself for not being able to retain what I had already been taught. I felt discouraged and slow. I went to pick up Esther from school and then got back to work again at my computer, annoyed tears pooling in my eyes. I growled unknowingly at the screen. Then suddenly, I felt a tender hand on my shoulder.

“Mama. I sowy. Dep Befs.”

It took me a minute to understand what she was saying.

“Dep Befs mama.” I watched her slowly blown air in and out of her lungs, demonstrating for me what I’d shown her so many times. “Try a-gin mama. Try a-gin.”

She kissed me on my cheek and squeezed my face close to hers.

The realization of what was occurring took a few minutes to sink in until the levity of it rested snuggly on my slumped shoulders. My daughter, my precious daughter- who every single day of her life has to deal with this same emotion, was teaching me to do what I’d been trying to teach her so many times. I was so extremely annoyed at myself that I couldn’t easily accomplish what I’d watched others do in their tutorials. How many times has Esther faced this same reality? How many times has she been on the verge of tears because others didn’t understand her frustration- not at them- but at herself. As her mama, there are many times that I have no idea what she’s comprehending. I often just teach, re-teach, and repeat over and over, hoping that things are sinking in. When she gets worked up in anger or tearful angst, I breathe with her and tell her to take deep breaths. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does nothing. If I’m honest with you, it is at times, extremely exhausting and discouraging. We do one day at a time in our house; it’s the only way I can walk this journey with hope, joy and energy. But sometimes, I break. Sometimes I crash and wonder if I can do this- if I can really train and raise a child- as precious and joyful as she is- with special needs.

It is indeed a life filled with wonder and beauty. It is filled with laughter and sweetness. But it’s also very, very hard. I don’t often let others into this hard as I regularly fight the compulsion to always advocate for the beauty.

Lately though, the Lord has given me the freedom and grace to write, to share and to be truly honest with the hard parts of raising our special gift with Down Syndrome. I began writing a book called "When Joy and Sorrow Dance" a weeks back, and the therapy of honesty has been a balm for my soul. It's hard to write for sure, but healing. I don’t always want to teach. Sometimes I long for her to “just get it”. Sometimes I kick myself for my own thoughts, and out of weariness, wanting for her to just hear what I said and know what I mean, then respond back with the same clarity. I wrestle with the guilt of not wanting to explain all the time, to have a break from breaking down every step of everything we do. But on this day, while I sat absorbed in my own world, I was the one needing a teacher. Rather than Esther learning from my frustration and proximity to giving up- she stopped and taught me. She reminded me of truth that I needed to put into action. I realized in that moment just how much she was comprehending emotionally by her response to me. She assessed my emotions. She showed me compassion even when she had no idea what was going on. She told me to breathe. To try again. She gave me kisses and moved on to her next task. Even more than the personal lesson and reminder, (which I indeed needed in full) I am moved by the seemingly small moment of kindness the Lord just showed me. She is getting it. And not only is she getting it- she will teach it to others for the rest of her life.

Sweet, tender Jesus. Help me never stop learning from the littlest of your followers. Your Kingdom really is upside Down.

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