From the Duck Pond archives, this was originally posted over a year ago. But, it’s one of my favorite posts, so please indulge me in this “rerun”.
I have a huge head. Not as a result of an overactive ego, just a physically large head. Seems ironic and cruel that I love hats so much; I seem to be on a never ending quest to find a cute, stylish ladies’ hat that actually fits my head. Perhaps this is why I tend to take on so many projects: I want to figuratively “wear many hats”. My list of commitments seems overwhelming to most: stay-at-home-mom to three kids (although, we’re never actually at home), PTO Co-President, leadership representative with a direct sales company, board member, committee member, volunteer, fundraiser. I imagine each one of these as a different hat; some are bright with big feathers, others are more subdued. Perhaps my hardest earned hat is that of “advocate”; my oldest son has Down syndrome. This hat goes from conservative and understated to colorful and wild, depending on the day.
I advocate for my son so many levels. I work with his school to ensure he receives the proper education in an inclusive setting. I oversee his community activities to make sure he is treated as all the other children are treated. I watch him like a hawk on the playground or even in our neighborhood to make sure the other kids are including him in their games. As he gets older, I know it won’t get any easier; my advocacy efforts will focus on workplace equality, or making sure there is a place for him in continuing education opportunities. Sometimes I do these things gracefully and with a calm demeanor, while other times I am “that mom” who ends up taking out all the day’s frustrations on whatever issue is closest at hand with the awkward gusto of an irritated elephant. Either way, I get my point across…eventually. I like to consider myself a “pick your battles” kind of girl, but when it comes to advocating for my son, I will get my way. Patience is a good byproduct of advocacy, but not an easy learned lesson. For every “no” I hear, I have to revamp my argument and efforts until that “no” becomes a “yes”. It can be exhausting. I will do it, every time, if I truly believe that whatever it is I am fighting for will help Alex in any way. Small change or huge impact, I will do it.
I imagine my advocacy “hat” to be slightly tattered, and not as fancy as my other “hats”, but it is by far my favorite. I wear it proudly, and every time I see my son’s smile or hear his laugh, it mends itself and gives me strength to take on my next battle. And battle I will; you can bet your hat on it.