Browse all articles By Kat Abianac / July 15, 2015 10. I love how awesome toddlers are. They’re funny, cute, and they have big heads on teeny little human bodies. It makes you go ‘awww’ and is the same lethal combination that has made many kittens famous on the internet. Parker’s a pocket rocket, a little sponge who never stops moving. He taught me kids with Down syndrome learn from everything and everyone around them with enough repetition and consistency. I love how rewarding the results can be when I introduce a new play therapy, or simply teach him the dance moves to a new nursery rhyme. 9. I love celebrating his achievements. Parker started walking a full 16 months later than his sister did. Having a child with developmental delays changes you. It’s an additional layer of vulnerability your baby has, and it makes you love and fiercely protect them a little extra. Parker is 2.5 and only started walking as a full time mode of transport last month. I knew he’d get there, like all the other kids. He just burned through a few extra pairs of trousers from the super-fast speed crawling first! It may have taken a little longer, but the buildup made the party even bigger. The most special part has been dropping him on the ground when we catch up with friends, and letting him run over to them. Their shining eyes have told me they have been holding their breath for this moment just as long as I have. 8. I love his ability to slow me down. Before I had Parker, I lived a fast paced life. Working fulltime, kid in primary school. Always trying to stay on top of everything, get my eyeliner on just right, get to work on time, meet deadlines, scheduling constant catch ups with friends for fear of them dropping off the radar. I judged myself on my ability to be a mother AND kick all my other goals. One day back when he was still a babe in arms, I lay on my bed at home breastfeeding him on my work lunch break. His oxygen cannula was taped to his nose and face, as it frequently was for the first 16 months. I watched him playing with my security office pass I hadn’t even had time to take off. And I realized it wasn’t a matter of ‘kicking all my goals’. Sometimes it was a matter of kicking them in a different order. Multitasking meant I dropped balls, and I’d been sent on enough time management courses to know when it was time to take stock of what I wanted from the next year or two of my life. I took leave from work and let my government Order of Merit listing expire for my next promotion. I turned 30 and started kicking the goals I truly wanted for myself. I took a day to celebrate my own life, and held my first ever birthday party. I started writing. I took my kids to the park after school. I started helping in my daughter’s classroom, and discovered a different version of her I never knew existed. Now, sitting outdoors and watching my pink-cheeked toddler running around the backyard makes me so grateful I took that option. I was inspired by him to think outside the box and make that happen, and my deliberately slowed-down, scaled back life has been on fast forward ever since. 7. I love to read to him. I am a self confessed bookworm. I grieved having a child so ‘different from me’, on diagnosis day. But children with Down syndrome are far more like their family members, than each other. And his love of books has helped me cement a bond with him I ignorantly never thought I’d have the opportunity to. Every time he runs over with his latest favourite, it reminds me how unique every child is: disability or not. 6. I love the community he gave me. I hesitated to make contact in the very early days, and connect with other parents in real life. I was comfortable staying behind my computer screen in our hospital room, researching and talking in locked Facebook groups and posting in forums. But I discovered the Down syndrome community is like any other: it is a fishbowl. People from all walks of life make lifelong friends, brought together by their love of their child and similarities they’d never have otherwise discovered. And sometimes you find people who crawl in your heart and can’t be shaken out, even on the darkest of days. Because they have their own dark days too, and know exactly what to say. 5. I love the early morning, when he’s just woken up. Now that he’s learned 5am makes mummy angry, we’re totally (mostly) on the same page. I scoop him from the bed so I can collect my neck squeeze from those strong little arms. His face when he sees me is pure happiness. It breaks into a smile, with those beautiful big eyes squashed behind folds of sheer joy. He’s the cheeriest morning person I know. 4. I love his kisses… now that he’s learned to keep his tongue in. Why do toddlers insist on recreating kissing scenes from The Bold and The Beautiful? 3. I love his ability to just chill out and take it all in. This kid has been on more hospital adventures than I ever had in 30 years. He gets just as overwhelmed as any toddler would, but for the most part with some quiet moments to debrief and a few gentle words, it’s like he recalibrates back to Awesome. Getting kicked out of ICU straight to discharge after 24 hours is no mean feat, but this kid managed it. He was too busy throwing his Wiggles books through cot bars in the vain hope nurses would read to him, to worry about pesky missing tonsils. 2. I love the value I’ve seen him add to the lives of others. Friends have talked about their new ability to see past the surface in all facets of their lives, and find more meaning in the little things. I don’t know how he does it. It’s Parker Magic, so I can’t explain it. But if you’ve ever known anyone with a disability or a difference, I suspect you know what I’m talking about. A person’s worth isn’t always weighted on the dollar value they bring to the community; there is no scale that measures the actions he has inspired in others. 1. I love this smile. People can’t help but smile back when they see it. And most of all, I love knowing Parker saves his sweetest smiles, his strongest cuddles, the best of his love for me. I won the genetic lottery the day my son was born. I originally published this article on Kidspot and it has since been republished on The Mirror UK. Please see author bio below if you wish to republish on your own site.