Penny leaning on Peter's shoulder and laughing. She is dressed in her blue, homecoming dress.

Down Syndrome Awareness Month: The Apple Doesn’t Fall From the Tree

gradient blue graphic with two pictures of Penny with Peter and Amy Julia. She is wearing a blue homecoming dress“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

That’s what my sister wrote to me after I showed her an email from Penny. Penny, unprompted, had sent me a Google doc with ideas for the baby shower we’ll be throwing in December. Penny comes from a long line of planners. She, like her mother, likes checklists and getting things done and being responsible.

It isn’t usually surprising to discover that mothers and daughters are alike, but when Penny was diagnosed with Down syndrome fifteen years ago, I thought that meant we would be very different.

But Penny loves to read and write. She takes ballet and isn’t interested in playing competitive sports. She’s short and has long, straight, light brown hair. And she’s a planner. In many ways, she is just like me.

I don’t mean to say that having a third copy of the 21st chromosome doesn’t affect her. I just mean to say that so does having my genetic code, as well as her dad’s. And so does growing up in our household, where her dad has given her his love for the Yankees (and the Saints, and UVA, for whom they cheer together, every night before bed), and where I have given her an appreciation for worship music and making photo albums, and, well, planning. 

She is so very much her own beautiful person. And so very much our daughter.

Learn more with Amy Julia about belonging and Down Syndrome Awareness Month:

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