I’m old, and I have two toddlers under 3 years old who seem to be competing for the title of Most Time Spent in Time-out… and I’m tired. Yet, those momentary matters melt away when I imagine our third child “under construction” amid equal parts craving and nausea.

People may think we're crazy (and we call those people “accurate”), but this is our family, and I can't imagine it any other way.

Charlie, our oldest, turns 3 years old in June. His sister, Mary Emma, is just 18 months. With The Husband's encouragement, I recently left a full-time job to dedicate as much time as possible to our children and my writing. (Since these two passions cannot co-exist, I spend each naptime scrambling to type as softly and evenly as they snore.)

Since welcoming Charlie and his extra chromosome, I have a sense of urgency to create the safest world around him.

The truth is, I wish I could have even more children. Since welcoming Charlie and his extra chromosome, I have a sense of urgency to create the safest world around him. I've become emotional about issues that never fazed me in my previous, well-rested, single, childless and clueless life.

The truth is, I have to accept that I cannot singlehandedly create an entire community to swallow Charlie whole and keep him intact.

Or rather, my body cannot.

A plan to protect

The truth is, choices I make can bring us closer to that bubble I so desperately want to encapsulate my children. Perhaps, I can make sure enough people meet, know and love Charlie to ensure their children and their children's children will become the safe, caring community Charlie and his siblings will encounter as adults.

Perhaps, I can make sure enough people meet, know and love Charlie to ensure their children and their children's children will become the safe, caring community Charlie and his siblings will encounter as adults.

The alternative paralyzes me.

Mary Emma has the energy of 1,000 oxen, a similar stubbornness and a flair for dancing a jolting, jerking alternative form of dance around our kitchen island. Her eyes sparkle with mischief and more understanding than I care to admit.

On a good day, I corral this energy and funnel it into the future, balling it together as it grows, rotates and gathers even more energy. She becomes an unstoppable force, long after my departure. She is like a giant magnet of life, attracting loving, caring and compassionate people and drawing them in an unbreakable chain around Charlie and her to-be-named-later sibling.

On a bad day, her energy becomes all-consuming and she spins off in search of new adventures and faded, comforting horizons. I understand this, because I lived this. I was selfish and self-centered and idealistic. I felt untouchable. Unbreakable.

Intentions vs. mistakes

We counsel toward decisions we wish we'd made ourselves. We intend to protect, and mistakenly we insulate.

Perhaps that's what children do. Perhaps they exist to remind us of our flaws and our strengths, a lesson that serves only to make us even more annoying to those same children. We warn them about that which burned us, which only serves to make warmth appealing. We counsel toward decisions we wish we'd made ourselves. We intend to protect, and mistakenly we insulate.

On the many, many days that nestle between good and challenging, I allow my daughter to just be. I conjure faith that she will be kind and good. I beckon reassurances by forcing the children to kiss each other's cheeks and hold hands as we maneuver through life.

I wonder if this pattern will ever fracture. I hope for my children's sake that I learn to let go.

At the very least, soon I can divide my focus between the two children upon which my faith in Charlie's future will depend.

Is this fair? Not for a moment.

But it's real.

More about children with special needs

Chasing Charlie: Realizing I'm not alone
Imagining a future for my son with Down syndrome
The truth about my child with Down syndrome

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