St. Valentine is not just the patron saint of love, and lovers, he is also the patron saint of happy marriage, too and also of young people. I would say this covers love in all its aspects, not just the romantic.

St. Valentine’s Day should really not be just about boyfriends, girlfriends and secret crushes.

It should celebrate all the different kinds of love there are, including the love we have for our young people: our children; because without question our relationship with our family is the one that has the capacity to bring us the most happiness.

I say ‘without question’, but I find that, as the parent of a child with Down’s Syndrome people DO question whether you can ever be happy with your family life -- as I found myself trying to explain to my daughter not long ago.

Recently I changed the name of my blog, and wrote a new ‘About’ page in which I described how, against the common expectation, I am happy with my life as the mother of a child with Down’s syndrome, how I feel more positive, and that in many ways life has changed for the better since he was born.

I know that my daughter sometimes reads my blog, as do some of her friends, so I talked to her about it.

‘Didn’t we make you happy?’ Lucy asked me.

‘What do you mean?’

‘You say in the blog how happy you are since Freddie was born; didn’t me and Harry make you happy?’

Clearly, Houston, I had written myself a problem.

I reassured her, I hope, that of course she and Harry had made me happy, every bit as happy as Freddie had – they were the best thing that have ever happened to me.

But, I explained, the blog is written for ‘other people’ -- people who don’t understand what it’s like to be the parent of a child with Down’s Syndrome.

And that’s why I have to explicitly state that having Freddie has made me happy -- because ‘other people’ just don’t understand this.

No one, I told her, would ever think to question whether or not she and her older brother had made me happy.

I had two beautiful ‘healthy’ children, one of each (double-plus luck, in some people’s eyes), well-behaved, bright, doing well in school – what mother, what parent, wouldn’t be happy with that?

Many times I was told how blessed I was. And people were right to assume that I was happy. I have never stopped being delighted with Harry and Lucy. But I am no less delighted with Freddie.

But repeatedly, people assume differently. They say things like ‘Oh, I’m sorry’ or ‘Oh, what a shame’.

I was once even backhandedly complimented for loving him (‘Has the baby got Down’s? Oh, but isn’t he well loved?’) The fact that it was said kindly and without any malice made it worse. 

It was simply a common assumption that many would make: that the mother of a disabled child makes a conscious choice to selflessly love that child in spite of his/her disability,rather than loving them instinctively and unconditionally

as she does quite naturally with a ‘typically-developing’ or non-disabled child.

So, I think from now on I should make St.Valentine’s Day a time to celebrate all my loves – not just my ‘romantic’ partner, my spouse, but also each of my children.

Because, without question, being a mum, to ALL my children, has brought me the most happiness.

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