I’ve been waiting for what seems like F-O-R-E-V-E-R to see Born This Way on A&E. I can honestly say it did not disappoint!
I started getting goosebumps when I saw cameras following my friend Sean around the NDSC convention in Phoenix. The idea of someone I knew being on network television was surreal.
The idea of someone with Down syndrome being on a reality TV show was almost too much to fathom.
Then, of course, there were the fears. I’ll admit to watching Big Brother way too much for a few seasons. The idea of that level of intrusion into someone life is scary. I often wondered, who would sign up for that? Not me! No way would I invite that into our lives. No way do I want the world scrutinizing everything I said and did. ESPECIALLY because of the whole Down syndrome connection.
When I started writing my blog, it was a lesson in humility. Not only was I allowing people into my life, I was giving people (total strangers) access to how I feel about my son. Every story I told, every event that I shared was a representation of my perspective on Down syndrome and what being a “special needs parent” felt like. The hard thing about that is – it’s MY perspective, not anyone else’s. Sure, some people could identify with my perspective or had similar feelings, but some were completely different.
Lesson 1: when you’re public about how it feels to be a member of a minority group, especially one that is so misunderstood, there’s a level of expectation to… represent.
Other members of the group will call you out on it. So, if you don’t have a thick skin, you’ll get hurt.
When I created The Road We’ve Shared, I had one rule in mind: Everyone is entitled to his/her own truth. We will respect that truth whether we agree with it or not.
Last night, we got to see a glimpse of many different truths. Each parent who was brave enough to participate in #BornThisWay has their own truth. No two experiences were the same. Now, the general public gets to see some of the different ways parents process things like receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
What struck me most about the first episode is how the different perspectives of parenting were obvious in the different attitudes the young adults had about Down syndrome.
Watching Elena’s reaction when the words Down syndrome are spoken was heartbreaking. I just hope, that when the critics within our community begin to analyze this raw emotion, they take into consideration the different cultural perspectives at play.
While Sean is my favorite cast member (yes, I’m biased) Megan’s Mom is the parent I most identify with so far. Did everyone notice that she refers to herself as “Megan’s Mom?” Yep. I do that too. And yes, I realize that some will say how unhealthy that is – to put so much of myself into my connection to my son. Guess what – that’s REAL. It happens. Especially when you’re a single mom. I applaud her for her honesty. How hard must it have been to allow the cameras to see how scared she is about letting go?
Kudos to you!
Can we talk? I LOVE this guy! First, to have a cast member of color on a show like this is HUGE! There are so many issues around race and Down syndrome that need to be talked about, and this family’s courage may be the key to opening some doors that we’ve been knocking on for a while now. Second, I simply can’t wait to hear him rap! Third, he’s hilarious!
So, even though it’s too early to tell for sure, I think this show is going to go a long way towards raising awareness and starting conversations that we need to have.
The young adults involved are funny, caring, honest and REAL. The different perspectives on parenting will be enlightening for some and we’ll be having conversations about that I’m sure. Their candid reactions will give others a sense of belonging and possibly encourage them to share their own stories.
Thank you A&E and everyone involved. This feels like a landmark moment!