Michael- born to a family a world away from the area Kathryn Hulings lives- had no way of knowing how different his life could and would be. His birth mother knew- knew that because Michael was different- she could not raise him. She chose to do 3 things, 3 remarkable things as Kathryn states- the most remarkable thing was a lie. A lie that could have far reaching consequences. Michael’s birth mothers told her family that Michael was not alive. Thus this lie change Michael’s life from how it would be in the area he was born in to the life it was to become nestled in Kathryn Hulings’ arms and loving, open family.
Kathryn was no stranger to therapy as her other children went for various therapies from time to time. But Michael was so different- because of his Down Syndrome, at first, he was exposed to a litany of different therapies to help him achieve milestones. Soon, though, Kathryn learned the family would have to be the therapists- that professional was great for check in’s- but she needed to have a hands on role. She embraced her role and Michael began learning to crawl, walk, and talk- maybe at a slower pace than his brothers and sisters- but still reaching those milestones.
Kathryn, as a mother, did not always do things the “right” way- she made mistakes, she cursed, she not a perfect mother. But she loved her kids- and the love of her kids almost played a role in her leaving the world too early. Kathryn had a routine surgery- a hysterectomy. Unknown to her, the doctor had a list of complaints and was engaging in self-medication. After surgery, she continued to feel pain- but partly because no one listened and partly because she was determined to be at every event her children were at- she forged on. Till she couldn’t. Nearly dead, he husband makes her hold Michael- to remind her she must fight the illness for him, for them, for the children. And fight she did.
Kathryn and Jim had many fights ahead of them- one in particular with the school system. From having problems finding a pre-school that would take Michael, to dealing with terrible attitudes; then to real school where over the course of Michael’ education- he’s had top notch teachers and others who were not. Kathryn advise other parents to be vocal, to be up front, to be an advocate for your child.
Michael, while to some of the world he may appear different, is like other kids. He likes superheroes, Adam Sandler and other types of toys, Pixar characters and on and on. He sometimes has trouble expressing himself- his words can get jumbled. But, like the good things in life, if you take the time- Michael shows how smart he is, how caring and loving.
Kathryn ends the book on a high note as she talks about Michael being gainfully employed and that life is pretty good. Michael is engaged- and is learning life lessons as an adult (how to manage a debit card, for example). Some days he makes mistakes- he does not always realize that seeing something on TV means he can’t do that in real life. But, with guidance from Kathryn and Jim- he is easing his way into adulthood.
A little baby came from a far off place- a place on the other side of the world- a baby that was different on the outside; but on the inside just like everyone else- wanting to be loved, cherished, have family and friends. This baby is Michael, this story is his. He enriched the life of the Hulings- and they love him for everything he does.
Traveling With T’s Thoughts
Kathryn tells the story of Michael with passion- she is his mother, his advocate, and his protector. From the stories of school, to the funny ways that Adam Sandler impacted the Huling’s life- to Michael growing, reaching milestones, and thriving- this book is a love letter to her son. A way to document the good times, the challenges- and the pure joy of raising Michael. At times, funny and always heart-warming- for a fan of non-fiction, this book might be exactly what you are looking for!
Here is my previously posted interview with Kathryn Hulings.