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Monica and David: the story of a couple with Down syndrome who get married and begin their life together. It was originally aired a couple of years ago but Netflix just picked it up, which means I’m watching it for the first time.

It really had me bawling like a small child through much of the first half.

I think just watching it brought up so many of my hopes and fears regarding Moxie. That she’ll find love, be happy with someone. Wear a gorgeous wedding dress because I want to dress up my daughter, dammit! Have a wonderful party and celebrate love found. I want these things so much for her, my breath catches in my throat and my eyes well up. Again.

The story of the mothers – both young and whose husbands split – also made me tear up. Both Monica and David’s mothers love their children very, very much and that is abundantly clear.

They are also both, by their own words, over protective.

Now, while I can totally understand the propensity to be over protective, it’s hard for me to see that actually becoming a reality with our own Moxie. I’m just not sure she’d stand for it.The girl is more independent than any of us. She leads the way most of the time and we just kind of bumble along, following.

I don’t know how that’s going to play out over the years, of course, but it’s hard for me to see a situation like the one they had, in which Monica and David don’t go anywhere alone; they are constantly with Monica’s parents. Moxie isn’t even three and she throws huge, colossal, on the ground fits when we don’t let her ride her trike or do what she wants.

I don’t know how much of Monica and David’s willingness to go along with the chaperoning was learned or just came naturally, you know? Were they both every bit as independent as Moxie is, and then their mothers over-protected them out of it?

I don’t know.

The cooking bit also had me kerflummoxed. Two grown ups, not cooking? How did that happen?

That’s so not going to happen with Moxie.

Even she didn’t want to cook (-she does), it wouldn’t because we are a Cooking Family if we are anything. We watch PBS cooking shows for fun; Micah calls us over if he sees a good Julia Child episode is on. We make yogurt and mayonnaise by hand and pie crust from cereal.

It WAS, however, a good reminder to make sure we continue to include Moxie in cooking endeavors in the same way we included Micah when he was her age.

Back to Monica and David.

I liked the documentary, overall. I thought it hit a nice tone, not overly sentimental and not “inspirational”. There is a lot of love in it, Monica for David, David for Monica, the parents for the couple and so forth – the love really spoke to me. I think things may be different in our respective parenting/disability philosophies, but I still feel a connection and sense of gratitude to both Monica and David’s mothers for raising such fine people.

Tell me: how’d you like it?


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  1. I liked it. I really felt that both of them were capable of being more independent than they were, though and I found that a little troubling. Like you, it made me want to make sure that Cora has the opportunity to develop those skills throughout her childhood. We’re a cooking family too! And by the way, tons of kids grow up not knowing how to cook at all or how to live independently; not just those with intellectual disabilities. Yikes.

    Right now I have a hard time seeing Cora being the one to assert her independence. We’ve definitely got some two year old attitude, but she’s still super clingy out in the world. That hasn’t changed in the past year and a half and we’re talking about how to work on that.

  2. I liked it, too, and saw the over-protectiveness and lack of life skills taught to be just a sign of that time, and a reminder that not very long ago, things were very different for our kids. But the cooking part *always* sticks out in my mind. I think about it *all* the time, and am constantly reminded to teach Samantha those independent life skills. One hell of a reminder, huh?

  3. Same, same. I loved the love!!! And remind myself constantly that different people are different. I loved the way Monica always checked that bathroom drawer to make sure her comb was in! And, I have to admit, I just loved that bathroom. Man, can I go live there? As for independence … same thing! I will tell you tho, that Jess is not a great cook … but loves to eat out! How she has figured that out I am not sure. She loves to NOT follow directions/instructions, altho she and Dan do cook alot together (chef Huggett and chef Lalande they are). But that’s a whole other post. However, she and her boyfriend, drummer boy, are out there on their own a lot. They still can’t quite figure out how to divided the bill in half properly and account for the tip. Jess loves this movie! And someone some where did a whole post on married couples with Down syndrome that I sent her, and she loved that! Always the intriguing part is coaching and withdrawing on relationships. My line these days is: I’m sure you will figure it out! DB wants to be a professional wrestler and move to California, just just recently informed him that that didn’t quite match her dream and I was so proud of her! Determined independent woman that she is, when it came to DB all her determination just seemed to melt. As even my husband will admit, she sure didn’t get that from ME! I ramble. Sorry. Ya. what meriah said, because meriah rocks! (and so does Moxie and that whole family!!)

  4. Stephanie says:

    I enjoyed it as well and agree with Becca’s comments–I felt like what they lacked in life skills was because of when they were born and the resources available to both them and their parents. Owen won’t have a problem with cooking–the kid loves to work in the kitchen and is an amazing stirrer, especially when he realizes we are making cookies or brownies!

  5. Maannnn. It’s been on my DVR for well over a year now and I have been a huge chicken. Er, I mean busy. I’ve been very busy. Maybe this weekend.

  6. So funny to see this post now. I saw this movie when it came out on HBO a long time ago. And the funny part is although the bulk of it is kind of murky in my memory now the two parts I remember vividly are how much they loved each other and how they needed help to make their lunches. I agree that a lot of this is generational. I would guess the focus on teaching independant living skills just wasn’t something they thought about when their kids were little. They were too busy fighting for education and acceptance. But thanks to families like theirs that broke sterotypes and ventured beyond what their society accepted, we do get to focus on things like that. I get Cate to help make her own lunch whenever time allows. I’m trying to teach her to make good food choices and put simple things together by herself. We also try to incorporate general housekeeping into her life too so it will be natural to empty a dishwasher or make her bed. Part of the reason we started doing that was how I felt after the movie – inspired to prepare my girl for a life that includes being married or living alone if that is what she wants.

  7. I think we have to remember that Monica and David are both an only child and I think that have a lot to do with independence. When you have two or more kinds your previous child just has to become more independent by nature in my opinion. Also, they were raised in different times (they’re both around 36 yo) by single moms.
    After meeting them in real life and having the opportunity to talk to both of them and Monica’s parents, it didn’t seem to me they had the skills to live completely independently so maybe that’s why they are always with Monica’s parents. However, they did act like any adult being responsible with their own belongings; Monica was wearing a purse with all her girl stuff in it and at some point she did mention how she forgot her sunglasses at home! I loved seeing them interact with each other and how much they love each other! I’m glad and happy they found love because not everyone can fulfill that dream! Also, I think our kids might have more opportunities to be more independent in life because times have changed (a bit) and I hope by the way we are raising them today will help for a better future on their own.

  8. GirlWithTheCane says:

    I didn’t realize that this was on Netflix. I’ll have to check it out!

    I imagine that I’ll feel the same way about it that you and previous commenters do, Meriah. I love that relationships and marriage are becoming more normalized for people with intellectual disabilities, but learned helplessness frustrates me and makes me sad.

  9. hi meriah — i haven’t seen the movie.

    i think it can be easy to attribute an adult’s inability to do something to their parent’s overprotectiveness.

    no one with young children wants to imagine that their child will be anything less than independent.

    i haven’t seen the story, but i do know that my son at 18 can’t cook independently or do many of the other skills my 3 typical children do. he does have multiple disabilities and our kitchen isn’t adapted (yes, guilt).

    and yet i can shake my head at all of the efforts that have been put into making him as independent as possible — efforts by us, teachers and workers (that were never needed w my other kids who picked things up by osmosis).

    just because an adult doesn’t have a skill doesn’t mean they weren’t exposed to it and repeatedly taught it.

    sometimes when you’ve done all of that intervention for 18 years you don’t want it to rule your (or your kid’s life) anymore.

    sometimes parents who have tried tirelessly to get their child as independent as possible don’t end up w the outcome they hoped for.

    i do think learned helplessness is a problem. but it’s also an easy target for blame.

    it’s kind of like telling a parent their kid with disabilities didn’t develop speech or walk because they didn’t do the “right” therapy — when it’s likely that the parent did every conceivable therapy under the sun

    It’s taken me all of these years to break the simple platitude i was raised on that “anything is possible if you only try hard enough”

    it isn’t for our kids, and it isn’t for any of us

  10. I’d never even heard of it! I’ll look for it… we have NetFlix, too.

  11. The documentary was sweet. While I can understand the protective aspect, I was kind of annoyed when the parents wouldn’t “let” them get a job at publix, or “let” them walk on the beach unsupervised. I also recall a clip showing one of the parents pouring their bowl of cereal. This couple is obviously capible of MUCH more than the parents want them to be. I was wondering if the marriage is legal, or if the wedding was just to fulfill Monica’s life long dream of a wedding?

  12. I enjoyed it. My 45 year old sister has downs. She’s beautiful! Our mother passed 4 years ago and I guess I’ve always known I would care for her. I haven’t spent one night without her in 4 years.
    Mom was truly over protective of Tammy. I’m working with her more. We have a lot of fun. I know at 41 when Mom passed, learning new things with Tammy was going to be a challenge. I tried to get Mom to let Tmy do more, but she was so afraid that someone would be mean to her. The public in the 21st century is more accepting of special needs adults, but, there are always going to be one idiot that will show their ignorance. I try to teach the ignorant people, but yes, some refuse. I’ve taught Tammy to walk away. She knows who to call for protection. We also have a plan in place for when I pass away. I’ve always prayed I would go before Tammy. It was hard on both of us when Mom passed, but I truly don’t think I could survive life without Tammy.

  13. Kath Heyne says:

    Hi Meriah
    I’m a disability support worker and I’ve just watched Monica and David.
    The limits their parents -especially Monica’s mother- imposed on the couple’s independence troubled me, too. It helped that the parents were mindful of it, but I saw little willingness to change: instead I heard justifications to keep it up.
    Then I came across your review and the comments it generated and I cheered.
    Please stay fearless, be guided by Moxie and force society to change it’s ways.

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