Helicopters and Huggers// How to be a friend.

I remember the day it happened.  I walked into her house like any other time (without knocking).. except this time my hands were full of flowers for her in one hand and my two youngest in my other. It wasn’t but two weeks after she had her third child and she was already cooking something yummy in her kitchen and offering me her famous iced tea. (well its famous to me at least)  She reads me well, and offers me a glass before I even get a chance to snuggle her new bundle.  Grady was so excited to see the baby as was June.  He hurried over to the couch and got right up, waiting to hold the little babe. His hands were raised above his lap and palms faced up and out as if he was welcoming his chance.  I hollered into the other room to my friend, is it Ok that Grady holds him… she said (without hesitation)  “of course” …

IT was then… I placed that sweet baby, not my own… into his arms… I wish I had a photo to share but my words will have to suffice.  His tiny hands and fingers gently touched his nose, and fingers… he leaned forward with the sweetest grin and gave him a kiss, and popped his head up and smiled from ear to ear. he gently ran his hands up and down his head for a few moments until he let me take him back….He was in baby heaven.

That moment right there, it replays in my mind and has brought me to  ugly cry tears this past few months time and time again.  It might seem like nothing big, but to this mamma, and her definition of friendship and trust… it was everything.


It was in my early days of my prenatal diagnosis that I saw my friendships start changing, or maybe it was the way I viewed my friends or the way they viewed/reacted/responded to me and my journey.

Some put me on a pedestal as I if I was the second coming, bearing a child that was different, they praised me and it made me cringe…  I mean, it was nice and all but it was a constant reminder that what I had was different from what they had and c’mon do we always have to talk about it. Sometimes even what seemed to be of good intentions was really a red flag to avoid and retreat….  I was just a mom (a truly imperfect mom) with a child with a different set of needs from their child after all. It’s too much work to live up to any heightened level of admiration because of one extra chromosome. I will fail you, more than once… my humanness  was inevitable … they slowly disappeared or lingered for a good show.

Then to this day, when I bring Grady around some other friends  and family  acquaintances  they do one of two things, they comment on how cute he is  all the time then they constantly hover around their child when he is near or around as if he is going to lash out at any moment with a fit of rage.  He isn’t contagious and he doesn’t need a helicopter putting him on radar either.  I see it, when they don’t think I do, they pull their kid back as he walks toward them, they watch closely, their hands like a hovering tennis racket ready to ping away his next move…  Is he unpredictable? perhaps sometimes…. HE’S 4! But the parents be it whatever you want to call it…  their movements make me uncomfortable, uneasy and break my heart… they have made it clear…

And then their is friendships like my friend who had her baby… who trusted me enough to know I would watch Grady with her newborn, she never peaked in the other room just to check…

We rarely if ever talk about down syndrome… or harp on differences… we talked new baby, business and our next dinner shenanigans …she gave me a good hug goodbye that day and about sealed my heart with love with that experience (she was unaware of it’s impact till months later)….

It’s all about trust in one another. Not that our kids are always going to be perfect or well behaved… but that we trust one another to do the right thing should that happen but in the meantime… we deflect helicopters with hugs and call it a day.



Restoration Home (Shadows and Light)

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more”- John Burroughs

I have to believe it was fate or perhaps destiny that we would settle down here.  My childhood home reclaimed 17 years after my parents sold it. (see video here) The storyline never gets old because each new day nostalgia finds me and provides a calming effect on my soul.  I was born and raised on these acres of wildlife, lakes and serenity in an 800 square foot cabin, it was perfect… my time here as a child was before the shadows found me….the shadows that before I knew it had me chasing the light  and heading back home.


While this little slice of paradise has situated us off the beaten path a bit, it’s just the right distance away from it all to disconnect.   All of my babes are finding  a divine love for nature here as endless opportunities to chase light, skip rocks and catch salamanders fills hours.  I believe God meets us in Nature, beneath the rocks, on the tailspin of a fallen leaf and the shimmer across the lake at sunrise. He meets us right there and builds church walls out of tall tamarack trees and a roof of a million stars, the choir chirps a familiar tune of summer,  the song of acceptance.  The turtles pop their head out of the still lake, always  listening without judgement and  the tall grass being pushed side to side by scampering feet always welcomes you home ….time after time.

View More: http://wildflowersphotos.pass.us/witkowski

photocredit: Wildflowers Photography: Joy Prouty


One thing I have learned is that the shadows can never kill  light.  They are temporary, shifting and disappearing as quickly as they come.  No matter the pretty picture I splash out there from time to time….the shadows are ever present in our life… the struggle on the outside is relentless.  They come in all forms from ourselves,  people, the systems or lack thereof and ignorance…  We get glimpses of Grace out there, safety nets and hope… but for the most part we retreat to the Light to replenish and restore.

I need this place, where I can lay down my own agenda and Let God shine his light into our life.  The ultimate Author of our story must have known, that my soul grows weary underneath my strong demeanor and confident outside layer, and that this place would begin to fill in the broken pieces.  It’s a warm hug on a bad day.  An inviting hello, revisiting a childhood long passed.

View More: http://wildflowersphotos.pass.us/witkowski

photo credit: Wildflowers Photography : Joy Prouty



Oh seeing him here.

I see him thriving here. It’s a toss up for us, we trade conveniences of closer schools  for days upon days in a sensory wonderland. It has to add up to something at the end of the day. He started a school this past week that has him on the bust a total of 3 hours a day … 1.5 there and 1.5 home… that long bus rides to and from school brings him back to this.  He RUNS FREE, splashes in the water, digs in the dirt… feeds the ducks and paddles a boat all with no judgement.

Nature therapy should just be a thing, right next to PT, OT and Speech… immerse them all.





View More: http://wildflowersphotos.pass.us/witkowski

photocredit: Wildflowers Photography: Joy Prouty

View More: http://wildflowersphotos.pass.us/witkowski

photocredit: Wildflowers Photography : Joy Prouty





I’ve said it time and time again, our battle is not with a diagnosis it always seems to be with those who don’t take the time to think outside themselves and dig a little deeper.  The shadows.

Our home here in Cahoonzie, knows no diagnosis… the forest doesn’t discriminate as the leaves relentlessly waive hello back to his many waves to them … the fish stare back at his moments of gazing without  judgement… his occasional grunting since he still hasn’t found his unprompted voice is echoed back to him across the lake only to shift his frustration to laughter at the returning sound…..and he chases the shadows, oh yes he will chase those shifting shadows until the break of day with his light.

Grateful for this place. More than I can ever say.

View More: http://wildflowersphotos.pass.us/witkowski