### Parenting Hot Seat: First Model with Down’s Syndrome in Northern Ireland’s Mother

Mum to:

Considering them as children can be challenging, given that they are all grown adults now. I have four children in total. Among them are two boys: Patrick, residing in London, and Michael, living in Belfast. Additionally, there are two girls: Kate, who resides at home, and Ella, who is currently studying in Liverpool.

What were the other baby names that you had considered for your children?

The choice of a name holds significant importance as it becomes one’s identity in life. John and I prioritized selecting the right names for each of our children. The names were primarily chosen based on familial connections, except for my youngest daughter, whose name is unique.

Ella’s name was inspired by Ella Fitzgerald, whose music accompanied me during labor, providing immense comfort. Hence, naming the baby after her felt like the perfect tribute.

Interestingly, for Kate, I initially referred to her as ‘James Joseph’ in the first half-hour after her birth, mistakenly convinced she was a boy, having had two boys previously.

While Patrick, my eldest, was always destined to be Patrick, the naming process for Michael was more prolonged, taking John and me five weeks to decide on the name Michael, a fitting tribute to his grandfather.

Deirdre Grant

What has been the most surprising aspect of parenthood for you?

The profound sense of unconditional love and the unbreakable bond with each child is truly remarkable. The instinct to protect and safeguard them at all costs is a powerful realization of parenthood.

What is the worst parenting advice you’ve ever received?

Reflecting on past advice, I recall a well-intentioned individual remarking on Kate’s Down syndrome diagnosis, saying, “A child like this is only given to special people.” While meant kindly, John and I believe that we are just ordinary parents striving to do our best, nothing more.

What do you find most enjoyable about being a parent?

Witnessing the growth and development of your children, observing them evolve into unique individuals, is undeniably rewarding. The overwhelming pride in nurturing and shaping these incredible human beings is a truly fulfilling aspect of parenthood.

If you could offer advice to your pre-parenthood self, what would it be?

Parenting is a journey of discovery with no set guidelines. Each child is distinct, requiring a personalized approach. It’s a continuous learning process of trial and error, adapting to what works best for each child.

What are your top tips for parenting?

Time is a precious commodity; quality time spent with your children is invaluable. Engage in meaningful conversations and cherish moments together, fostering a deep connection amidst today’s fast-paced digital age. Simple acts like sharing a meal and discussing their day hold immense significance.

What values do you prioritize instilling in your children?

Promoting mutual respect among siblings and self-respect from an early age is paramount. Cultivating these values at home lays a strong foundation for their character development.

Deirdre and Kate Grant

As a parent, what do you feel guilty about?

Guilt often accompanies parenthood, whether it’s the struggle of balancing work and family or questioning the decisions made while raising your children. From the initial moments of parenthood to the present, feelings of guilt persist.

What moments with your children make you proud?

The pride derived from witnessing each child flourish, grow, and evolve into remarkable individuals is immeasurable. Being part of their journey to realizing their full potential is a source of immense joy and pride.

What activities do you enjoy doing with your children?

Outdoor adventures and nature exploration are cherished activities for our family. Taking our dogs for long walks in the countryside and appreciating the beauty of nature together is a favorite pastime. We also savor dining out and engaging in competitive board games filled with creativity and occasional rule-bending.

Share a recent moment when your children made you laugh.

Recently, one of my adult children humorously remarked, “Mum, you wouldn’t understand the challenges of the working world.” This light-hearted comment brought laughter, considering my continuous work commitments, both outside and within the home setting.