By Whitnie Trost
So I am a mom of 6 kids- 5 boys and one girl. 30 years ago, I began my journey of being a mom and just kept going. I come from a big family and so does my husband, so when you find something you are good at, you go with it, strengthening your talents and all that. When I had my youngest son, Christopher, at the age of 34, I had a house-full and there were many days when I thought my life was one never ending day. I often could not remember what day it was. If it weren’t for my other kids going to school and having a schedule, pants and make up probably would have been an option I opted out of. I truly loved being a mom and I was totally used to, and really good at, chaos, but I am not going to lie, there were days when I thought stepping on Cheerios and squished applesauce, and being a mediator between my 14 year old and my 5 year old over Nintendo games was going to do me in. I often wondered if my life would ever be more glamorous than what it was at that time.
Amazingly time went on and I survived each crazy day, and my oldest started high school, then my next one and then the next. As this was going on my son Christopher, who experiences Down syndrome and Autism, was advancing in school. We worked so hard to get him support in being successful and included in school and getting the right support in place to be able to experience the most appropriate school career, learning to be a kid and then a teenager by being with other kids and teenagers. This was sometimes a long, stressful and even painful process, but, let’s face it, I have raised a million kids. I am good with long, taxing and often annoying processes.
Christopher hit his stride in middle school and carried that stride on into high school. This was not without trials, and frustrations, but with constant communication with the school and a team that probably learned to just listen and do because I was a collaborative, brainstorming tiger mom.
Christopher made it through, having a ton of the same teachers all my other kids had when they went there and he made some really great friendships and relationships that have shaped his independence and purpose in life. Being able to attend all the classes that his friends from the neighborhood and church also attended helped him to work hard and not only receive but earn and achieve his Extended Diploma.
We knew when he was born that he was unique. We knew he was going to have to be stronger and more determined than anyone else to succeed, and we knew he would make us, as a family, better people than we ever would have been on our own. I think we were unprepared though, to realize that Chris would be funnier than all of us, smarter in so many ways than all of us, stronger and more determined than all of us, not afraid to call you out on things that don’t make sense, not afraid to show love, compassion and friendship with a simple fist bump, high five, and a gentle forehead touch to show that even though his face and mannerisms may not show it, he deeply and genuinely loves and appreciates you to his core.
Christopher we are so proud of you! Congratulations, and here’s to an ambitious, exciting and empowering future and another 18 great years. We love you bud!