Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Two Sides of Acceptance

Acceptance... a word I have thought a lot about in the last two months.  What does this word really mean?  Isn't it the root of what everyone wants in this lifetime... to be accepted?  To be accepted by strangers, friends, parents, your spouse, and yourself.  Isn't that why we do the things we do?  It's one thing to say, "I don't care what others think."  I have heard myself saying this over and over lately.  But... is there any truth to that?  Do I really not care?  Hmmmmm... thick skin is what I want, but I know deep down that I care.  I care what others think.  I care how I am treated by others.  I ultimately want to be accepted.

I have had two extreme experiences with this word acceptance... all in the week Lilah was born.  Both occurring by chance.  Both rocking me to my core.  Both teaching me about this word.

Three days before my scheduled C-section and my dear sister-in-law baulked at the doctors' orders for no nail polish in the surgery room and scheduled pedicures anyway.  She knew exactly what I needed, what I wanted... to be pampered.  As we made small talk with the ladies each attending to our toes, the conversation moved to my pregnancy and talk of how small I was considering I was giving birth in the next few days.  I got this a lot with both of my pregnancies and I just shyly smiled and said, "Yeah, I know."  The lady working on my sister-in-law says, "My daughter was big.  9 pounds and something-or-other ounces and she had a huge head."  The way she said it made us giggle... I guess it was not what we were expecting her to say.  She went on to talk about her theories as to why she thought her daughter has a large head.  The gal working on my toes says, "It's like midgets.  They have huge heads."  Then a pause.  And then, "I mean little people.  They don't like to be called midgets."

There it was... me, my child,... not being accepted.  All of the air felt as though it were sucked out of the room.  I felt my cheeks get hot and my mind spinning and spinning.  The irony... it just about killed me.  This stranger had no way of knowing that in three days I was going to give birth to my very own little person.  The fact that she even said that caught me so off guard I don't think I said anything for the next ten minutes.  I just kept repeating what she said in my mind thinking, "Did that really just happen?"  At first I was hurt.  I was hurt that she thought that was funny.  I was hurt that I didn't say anything in response.  And I was hurt thinking about how I would feel if she had said that to my daughter.  But then, I felt myself smiling.  It made me feel vindicated for putting my story out there for all to hear and know.  I just thought, "See... this is why I want everyone to hear about Lilah and know that her story is one of love... not hate, not ignorance, not unnecessary words."  There are people out there that need to hear my message and understand that words can hurt.  Understand that differences can and should be celebrated.  It's ok if we are not all the same and I happen to believe that being different is a good thing.  And then there are people out there that already know this.  And for those people, I just hope my story offers a smile, inspiration and a message of love.

{For the record... the word midget is inappropriate and is considered a derogatory term.  I apologize for using this word in my blog.  But, for me the truth has to be told as it is and by skirting around this word, I am not teaching anyone what is okay and what is not okay.  Therefore, I used this word in the context it was said, as unfortunate as it was.}

And then... the day of Lilah's birth... as I am being wheeled into my recovery room straight from surgery, flowers are brought in right behind me.  Corey reads the card... they are from our local chapter of the LPA (Little People of America).  When we first received news of Lilah's diagnosis of dwarfism, my mother and my California sister-in-law reached out to the local chapter of the LPA for support.  My family knew we would need to be corralled by another community-- one of understanding, one of familiarity.... one of acceptance.  But it was the acceptance of the individuals we have been fortunate enough to meet/get to know over the last month that blew me away.  See, the LPA is a group of people just like any other group of people formed by commonalities.  They didn't have the luxury of choosing us to be in their group.  When we contacted them, they didn't ask us questions judging us and deciding whether of not we would be a good fit.  They didn't meet us in person, ask about our backgrounds/ethnicities/occupations.  They embraced us wholeheartedly in a way I have never seen and they genuinely offered their support, love... and acceptance.  I am so humbled by these individuals and the LPA and their example of unconditional love.

Both of these experiences have made me realize the depths of this word acceptance.  It has made me understand what it feels like to be accepted and what it feels like not to be accepted.  And for the same reason.

It amazes me that this is a choice that we all make-how we treat/react to others, how we make others feel.  I have learned that even strangers and words from strangers can make an impression and a long-lasting impression at that.  It is important for me to be an advocate for the LPA, little people and for my daughter, Lilah.  Someday, strangers' words and stares will hurt her and in turn hurt me, too.  If by sharing my story affects even one person to be more open, loving, accepting... then it is worth it for me.    But this can be a lesson to all of us.  We have all heard comments about race, cognitive abilities, ethnicities, physical appearances and so on.  I challenge you... next time you hear someone being put down, a derogatory comment,  or stereotyping of a group of people... stand up and say something.  When I have the chance again, I promise, I will stand up for what I believe and protect those I love.    

And at the same time... words can do so much good if we choose them wisely.  From my experience with the individuals that have reached out to us in the last few months, I have learned to be more compassionate for others, the way compassion has been shown to me.  I have learned to go out of your way for those you love AND for those you are yet to love.  I have learned that its what's in your heart that matters.  Thank you to the LPA, the Rollins family, Mama Gray and family, the Spears Family, Hidi Gardener, Leslie Walden, Marcia Bagwell, Jamie Nading, and Sandy Becker for reassuring me, guiding me along the way and being a hand to hold.  You have all been incredible teachers and I cannot thank you enough for your support, friendship, love and... acceptance.


  1. Thank you Leslie for sharing this! We all need to be more careful and consider other peoples feelings and not just say the first thing that comes to mind. I pray Gods blessings over you and your family.

  2. Love this! Nice blog mama. Keep on educating and reaching out!

  3. This is a beautifully written blog. My first daughter was born 32 years with achondroplasia and this brought back so many thoughts and feelings I had at that time. We were never given as many tests as you describe and thank God she was healthy. As you know, your daughter will be able to do anything that is presented to her, no matter her height. My daughter owns her own home, drives and is married. The quote from your doctor is something you should always remember, it will not matter a year from now. Lilah is lucky to have you and you to have her. Happines to all of you.

  4. Thank you, Leslie, for being so honest and transparent. Praying for God to cover each of you with His love and tender care. Kathy T.

  5. Beautiful post - I can so relate to your story. Just after having Zayn someone posted a status update to their FB about seeing a "midget" and just how funny it was. I was horrified and so deeply hurt. It was so weird that it happend just days after bringing my baby home, and I can't help but wonder that if I didn't have Zayn, would I still be so distraught over someone's FB update? I hope I would be, but I'll never know. Over the year I've come to learn that most people are just ignorant - and it's up to us to share our stories and children to help people understand that we have feelings too, and that we just want to be accepted.

    I'm Anna by the way - I found you through etst and we now follow each other on Instagram. Funny how the world is so small, and how two little babies could bring people together.

    Lilah is beautiful and I love all her pictures. Congrats again!


  6. God bless we are all gods children know matter how we're born. Each and everyone of us is special in our own way. <3 Donna

  7. Thank you for all your comments! I really appreciate you taking the time to read the blog and comment! @anonymous, great to hear your story. So neat to hear from other moms who have walked the same path and are many years ahead of me. Gives me so much strength to know to hear of others' happiness. @Anna, yes, I enjoy following you on instagram and your little boy is so cute!! I love seeing your posts! I can't believe that you had something similar happen to you! It is good to know we can handle it and become better because of it!

  8. I'm crying! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Thank you for writing this.