Matt Cromwell Avatar
We have 4 amazing children. Our youngest — Noelle — just joined us 2 months ago. She has Down Syndrome and she’s already teaching me patience.

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When it comes to parenting, I don’t believe any number of children make you an expert. Each child is unique and brings their own challenges and joys. But having four children means I’m fairly familiar with the standard development milestones and I look for them closely.

You might have read about our expectations as we were waiting for Noelle to arrive. Now that she’s here, I see how “normal” she really is. She’s an adorable, tiny, little baby girl and we love her to death. But she’s definitely taking her time in development. It was several weeks before she regularly opened her eyes at all. She is yet to smile when she sees us (though that’s somewhat normal still). She’s definitively slow to gain weight, though not so slow as to be a concern yet.

None of this is concerning. It’s really just me wanting more interaction from her. Those small things help me, as her father, connect.

But that’s the crux of the issue. I’m the problem here, not her. I want her to get on with it — grow fat and happy; stare at me straight in the eyes and smile when I make faces. At only 2 months old, I am already being fairly demanding of her.

I just realized that recently — that it’s my fault and that I’m the one putting expectations on her. I just realized that she is exactly who she is and is developing just fine (thank you very much). I just realized that my impatience regarding her development is my problem, not hers.

I imagine that my relationship with her will be a lot like that as she grows and develops. I’ll have to continually confront myself with my impatience or my selfish expectations. She doesn’t yet speak or acknowledge my existence; but already, she’s teaching me patience.


  1. I think we as parents are all guilty of this, Matt! I didn’t even realize it until you just brought it to light. Thanks again for opening up and sharing your journey…hoping we can make it soon for a visit!

    1. If I think back on my other kids who don’t have Downs, I probably rushed them either verbally or in my own impatience in one way or another. But with Noelle I got kind of confronted with my own feelings just because of who she is. She really will teach us a lot I believe. Thanks as always for your kindness and support, Chris!

  2. Candi Bertran says:

    Love your writings and updates Matt, so grateful to be part of your lives in this way. I am loving Noelle from afar!

  3. Richele Kleiser says:

    Love your reflections! When our children are babies, we are asked by experts and physicians to compare them to “normal” developmental standards. That can be reassuring or quite concerning. The beauty of each child is that they are not always normal by common definition, but instead quite extraordinary and unique! We must cherish that and know that every child will grow and develop and display the things you seek in their own time. You were chosen for this path and I’m sure you will be exactly what your precious little girl needs to bring out her full potential!

    1. Thanks Richele. We’re really fortunate to have experienced and wise friends and family who help us understand that so we are more equipped to better understand and embrace and LOVE Noelle. Thank you!

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