AOP: What has been the most rewarding part of motherhood?
KG: The most rewarding part of motherhood is the deep unconditional love shared between us. I didn’t understand what that meant until I had my boys. When Kieran was born, I didn’t know I could ever love anyone so much.
Then Kallum was born, and has Down Syndrome. As he has grown and I can watch the unconditional love he gives everyone — the empathy he naturally shows and how he can forgive so easily — I realized I didn’t know much about love until him.
They call him the mayor of his school because he knows everyone by name and always has a hello, a fist bump, or a hug for everyone he passes in the hall. He can make anyone smile no matter how bad of a day you are having.
AOP: How do you balance being a mother and pursuing your personal goals?
KG: My personal goals have become entwined so much with being a mother. Having a child with an intellectual disability lit a fire inside of me. My personal goals are to make the world better for my children. Every day I advocate for awareness, education, inclusion, and kindness.
AOP: What resources do you use to support your journey as a parent, and how have they helped you?
KG: The best resource for any parent is another parent. That is particularly true when you have a child with exceptionalities. The people I surround myself with understand my struggles, love without judgment, and offer support and guidance.
AOP: How has your role as Satellite Coordinator for Down Syndrome Alabama changed your outlook on support available for children with special needs? Do you have any personal goals for your area as the satellite coordinator?
KG: Down Syndrome Alabama is a coordinated statewide effort started by parents to advocate, educate and raise awareness. It really centralizes a lot of resources and information within the membership. DSA brings together lawyers, medical professionals, legislators, educators, and people from diverse backgrounds and professions with a common purpose.
My goal as satellite coordinator is to make sure families feel supported. We host a monthly Mom’s Night Out and Dad’s Night Out, monthly play dates, workshops, and soon our third annual Step Up for Down Syndrome walk.
Kieran, my oldest, is also on his way to being an advocate for all people with any differences. He recognizes when a child is eating lunch by themselves consistently and will take the initiative to sit with them or tell someone to figure out how to help. He likes celebrating Down Syndrome awareness month in October and usually assembles a package with books, activities, and awareness bracelets to help his class celebrate. Kieran was voted most kind-hearted by his class last year.
AOP: How do you handle challenging situations with your children?
KG: Most of our home situations are like any other family. The biggest challenges happen when we are in public. I think more adults should follow their child’s lead. If you have a question, then ask. If someone asks how old Kallum is and why he is small for his age or doesn’t speak as clearly, I take that as a great teaching moment.
The hardest things I have dealt with are always people who choose not to show patience or kindness. Kallum is taking longer to learn boundaries, especially when it comes to hugging others. He just wants to help people feel better, but doesn’t always remember to ask before he hugs them. Please treat him with respect and kindness. I have had people push him or yell at him. You haven’t seen a Mama bear until you disrespect my kids!
AOP: What is your greatest hope for your children’s futures?
KG: I think the greatest hope any parent has for their children is that they are happy and loved.
AOP: Knowing what you know now, what is one piece of advice you would tell your younger self?
KG: Seek out other parents of children with Down Syndrome immediately, and don’t get your information from books unless other parents recommend them. The books I read shared the worst-case scenarios and scared me. I have learned to take it day by day and try not to predict what will happen next.
Katrina Goldie and her husband, Rod, will celebrate their 13th wedding anniversary in November. Rod is a manager at the Opelika Sawmill, and Katrina is primarily a stay-at-home mom. They have two boys, Kieran (9) and Kallum (8). Katrina has been the Auburn/Opelika Satellite Coordinator for Down Syndrome Alabama for three years and loves the work. The Goldies love to spend time swimming together and visiting amusement parks.