I watched this film a couple of days ago. It is hard to articulate the kaleidoscope of emotions that whirled around my head and heart as I watched. You see, when you have a child with a disability you have to take time to mourn the ideals that you had for your child – the grandiose visions of college graduations and weddings and your own retirement. It’s not to say that these things will not happen but they will inevitably look a little bit different. A while back I wrote a series entitled, Mothering a Child with a Disability – the Secret Thoughts because while there is a silver lining in everything and being the mom of a child with special needs has changed me for the better, sometimes it’s hard. I wanted other moms in similar situations to know that it is okay to have these thoughts and we all have to hash through the issues in our own way and in our own time. Out of all the posts in that series however, one specific post has more page views than any other. In the post, I talk about Ella’s maternal instinct: her need to care for her babies – bounce them, burp them and feed them and the “what if” question of whether one day, a vinyl doll will prove to be not enough. What if Ella wants to have a baby? What will I say?
There are a couple of things I really love about this film. One, is that the parents in the film encourage their son in his relationship with his girlfriend. They do not try to avoid the fact, or deny that even though their son was born with a disability, that he is any less human and consequently shares the same natural drives as any other man. That being said, I did not like their response to the prospect of his girlfriend being pregnant HOWEVER I am also aware that this would be the reaction of many parents and therefore the writer is simply portraying both sides of the emotional spectrum. I also appreciate how the two individuals with DS are portrayed as entirely independent in not only the day to day logistics of their own lives, but in their thoughts and emotions. And finally, I really really love the ending. Why? Well, because too often, as much as we “accept” Down Syndrome, when it comes to choosing Down Syndrome in a future tense, it is always portrayed as a risk: as bad, as something you wouldn’t want more of. When we had Ella, the geneticist told us we had a one in one hundred chance of having another child with Down Syndrome implying there was a fear that should govern our decisions and when we did get pregnant for a third time, there was the lingering question of whether we would test for Down Syndrome. This however, contradicts the truth that not only do we discover for ourselves as parents but are also constantly sharing with others: our kids are more the same than different. They bring light and joy to our lives and we wouldn’t have life any other way.
I can pretty much guarantee that any parent of a child with Down Syndrome will have a different take away from this film than any other viewer but I would love to know what you think. That being said, I caution you. Watching it can be uncomfortable. Society does not like to place mature human emotions on people with disabilities because they like to dehumanize them – it helps them not feel so bad about marginalizing them but this is a whole other post, possibly a whole other blog. Take a look, it’s only 13 minutes and post your comments below.