Down syndrome, Motherhood

A lesson learned through spaghetti

We were driving to the beach for a week of vacation with my husband’s family.  Our oldest two girls had left home earlier that morning with their grandparents, so the car was quiet with just my husband, our 17 month old son and our 9 week old daughter.  The quiet was a nice break–no questions, no complaining, no bickering–a nice respite.

For, I don’t know, maybe the millionth time, I handed a graham cracker to my son.

Maybe this time he’ll actually put it in his mouth.  

I turned back around in my seat to continue the conversation with my husband.  And a few seconds later I heard it.

“Crunch.  Crunch crunch crunch.”

Never before had the sound of crunching crackers made me cry.  But it did that day.

You see, for months we had been trying to get Mason to pick up food, or at the very least chew something with his teeth.  He refused to eat anything that wasn’t pureed and fed to him on a spoon.  If we tried to put a piece of food in his mouth, he would just push it out with his tongue.  And, if we placed something on the tray of his highchair, he would throw his hands up in the air and literally freak out.

And I was tired of it.  Tired of pulling out the food processor for every meal to try and come up with something creative and nutritious for this little guy.

His inability and refusal to eat solid foods made me angry, sad, frustrated, and discouraged.  I felt like life was so challenging because I had to work hard to get food into him.

For five months, Mason continued to eat graham crackers and would occasionally pick up a Ritz.  Everything else was a no go.  Then, about three weeks ago, for the first time, Mason picked up pieces of pumpkin bread, put them in his mouth, and chewed them with his teeth.

It was a glorious day!

We’ve been slowly giving him more finger foods and watching as he figures out how to get them in his mouth.

Last week, we put spaghetti on his tray and he went. to. town.

I’ve never seen a kid more excited about eating spaghetti than he was that night.  He could not get it in his mouth fast enough.  He kept smiling, giggling, and kicking his feet with joy.

It was then that I realized I had made his eating an issue about me.  The time it took, the mental energy to think through every meal, the emotional struggle wishing he was different.  Never once had I considered how he must feel.

As I watched him chow down and become a messy glob of noodles and spaghetti sauce I saw my son experience a freedom that delighted his heart.

Mason is going to experience challenges of many kinds throughout his life, eating is just one of them.  And, as his mother, I’m going to walk through those challenges with him.  But I don’t want to make those challenges about me.  I want to look at them through the eyes of my son.

I want to push him to work hard at what’s challenging.

I want to rejoice in the little victories, that really aren’t so small for him.

I want to be sad, not because I’m tired of him struggling, but because I hurt for him.

I want to look forward to his accomplishments, not because it will make life easier for me, but because his life will be much more full as a result.

I want to love him, and each of my children, in a selfless way, exemplifying to them the selfless love of Christ.

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  • Reply Tom

    Love this!

    February 26, 2014 at 12:32 pm
  • Reply Lydia

    Precious, Lauren. Thanks for being super honest about your struggles. I have been challenged that I need to be more honest about my failures in life. You are a great example of that raw honesty.

    February 26, 2014 at 10:11 pm
    • Reply Lauren Washer

      I appreciate your words, Lydia; you are a great encourager.

      February 27, 2014 at 11:56 am
  • Reply sherri lynn

    Lauren, this might be my favorite post of yours yet. You are always so transparent, which is both encouraging and challenging. What a wonderful lesson for you to learn! And what wonderful pictures of a precious moment that I’m sure you will never forget! We are so incredibly proud of all of Mason’s hard work in learning all the things he’s learned, and most recently his hard work that’s paid off in learning to eat on his own!!! I love the pictures of him enjoying the spaghetti!! Can’t wait to see you all again!

    February 27, 2014 at 1:57 am
    • Reply Lauren Washer

      Thanks, Sherri. I know you pray for us, and that is such a blessing to me.

      February 27, 2014 at 11:57 am
  • Reply Jilayne

    This made me cry. So beautiful, Lauren! Thank you for sharing. What an amazing example you are of Christ’s love! Your husband and children are indeed blessed.

    February 27, 2014 at 3:39 am
    • Reply Lauren Washer

      Thanks, Jilayne. How blessed we are to have Christ’s love to spur us on!

      February 27, 2014 at 11:57 am
  • Reply Benjamin

    My mom sent this to me on my birthday. I’m a bit of a spaghetti lover myself. I enjoyed reading it, thanks for sharing Lauren!

    March 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm
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