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Launching just in time for Mother’s Day, Grace Mothers features stories from over 60 extraordinary women, and is both an intimate insight into the joys and tribulations of motherhood and a celebration of mothers and their children everywhere.
What does motherhood mean in 2019? That’s the question at the heart of Grace Mothers: Letters to our Children, a brand new collection of thought-provoking letters written by mothers from all over the world to their children.
In this extract from American model, actress and activist Amanda Booth’s letter to her son, we learn how a Down’s Syndrome diagnosis changed the course of a mother’s life, and how vitally important the role of motherhood then became – one to value, celebrate and cherish.
Here, GLAMOUR shares an exclusive extract from the chic new book…
If you follow LA-based mama Amanda Booth on Instagram (@amanda_booth), you would have already fallen in love with her beautiful son Micah Quinones – not to mention be blown away by her strength and courage. Before Booth gave birth, they discovered Micah’s heartbeat was faint. “This is what led us down that dark rabbit hole. His heart looked great, but that’s when they said his other measurements were not so good – he was very small.
Things like achondroplasia or intrauterine growth restriction were thrown around. We had the fetal non-stress test multiple times a week, until finally he wasn’t doing so well so I had to be induced at hospital.” When Micah was four months old, they found out he had Down syndrome. “I have tons of advice for mothers of babies with Down syndrome,” says Booth.
“First, that it’s okay to be sad or worried, to mourn the loss of the life you envisioned for you and your child. It is going to be different, yes. But that does NOT mean that it will be less, in any way! We try not to treat Micah any differently, if we don’t then I think we have a better shot of others doing the same thing.”
I hope that you go through life loving yourself as much as I love you. You’ve given me a sense of purpose that I’ve never felt before. You’ve opened my eyes. You’ve taught me the importance of equality, inclusion and acceptance and how to fight for someone other than myself. Every single day, you teach me to slow down and be present in the moment.
I grew up in Pennsylvania. My own childhood was very challenging, but now I appreciate all of the struggles I had to endure at a young age. They not only shaped me into the person that I am today, but they shaped me into the kind of parent that I wanted to be as well. My parents divorced when I was very young. There were a lot of addiction problems in our family and we were always moving. Nothing really ever felt stable… there was definitely nothing beautiful or poetic about it. I grew up taking care of my younger siblings and they saw me as a mum figure. My little sister – your auntie – would call me ‘mum’ all the time.
Your grandmother worked three jobs just to keep us afloat and so I never really had a close relationship with my parents as they were so busy working. Yet while your grandmother wasn’t able to be hands on with cooking dinner or helping me with homework, I still was able to observe her. She was a hard working woman holding down three jobs to provide for us. I feel fortunate that even as a young person, I saw the sacrifices she was making for us and I never had any resentment towards her.
13 years ago, your grandmother moved in with me when I was living in New York City and that’s truly when our relationship building began. We lived together as adults and it was more of a friendship than it was the standard mother-daughter relationship. Your grandmother taught me to be a strong, independent woman. To work hard for the things I wanted, and not to rely on a man or anyone else for them. She also taught me that motherhood comes with a lot of personal sacrifices, but you’ll be very rewarded when you have given a human a beautiful platform for a wonderful life and future. None of this she ever told me – I just knew from paying attention.
Your late great grandmother was my role model. She did everything for her family. She worked 12 hours a day in a candy factory until the day of her open heart surgery, which eventually lead to her passing. She always made sure we had boots in the winter, a warm meal on Sundays. She always made time for us kids, and still worked her butt off. She had very little and I never heard her complain, ever.
We found out you had Down syndrome when you were four months old. Towards the end of my pregnancy, things got complicated. I was on bed rest and a 4,000 calorie a day diet to see if you would gain any weight. You didn’t, only I did, so we knew something was not functioning correctly. We had known about the possibility of you having Down syndrome from the day you were born, but it wasn’t until the blood test confirmed it that we knew for sure. Your paediatrician came to our house to tell us the news.
I did mourn the loss of the life I’d envisioned for you – a barefoot-on-the-beach kind of childhood. At first when you were diagnosed with Down syndrome, you had seven therapy sessions a week, visits to the doctor, seemingly endless blood tests… it all felt very opposite to the life that I had imagined for you. Now, you’re four years old and we’ve gotten into the groove of navigating life and your dad and I are trying to get back on track and give you the type of childhood we had hoped for.
One of the most incredible parts about parenting you is the indescribable joy we experience when you do something that any typical kid naturally will do. The other day you said “pop” for popsicle and I just looked down and started crying – seeing you formulate a word was the most incredible feeling. We remember the first time you held some beads and dropped them, the first time you ate a tortilla chip and didn’t choke on them because you figured out how to chew it and then swallow. We get to experience the joy of you being proud of yourself when we ask you to do something and you do it. The smile you get on your face once you feel proud of yourself fills me with happiness.
I started modelling when I was 18. I drove to NYC for two months back and forth from Pennsylvania until a modelling agency finally put me on their books. Most of them thought I was too old or too fat and at that time, I had just turned 19. I never gave up on myself. That was fourteen years ago and it wasn’t because somebody scouted me at the mall or because I was in the right place at the right time. It was because I had an idea of something that I wanted and I never gave up on myself and I’m still here – modelling and acting – and I’m still not giving up on myself. I hope like me, you will have a go at everything and do it with as much passion and love as you possibly can. If it doesn’t go your way, remember to let go… something else is always around the corner. You just have to put one foot in front of the other.
I strive to be a far more patient mother to you than I feel. I hope you will never question how deeply I love you or how much I believe in you. I hope to be the kind of mother who slows down and looks at what you need, instead of what I need or what I think you need. I hope that I’m honest and that I can inspire other people to connect with their kids in ways that they’ve never done before.
Micah, go through life with love in your heart. As I’m getting older I’m realising that the more I nurture the relationships in my life, the happier I feel and the more purposeful my life feels. Material things come and go but it doesn’t make sense to equate your life to things that could be taken away from you. So it’s better to put your energy into nurturing the things that no one can ever take away from you and that’s the love that you give and the love that you receive.