EXTRA love needed for all Mississippians
EDITOR'S NOTE: CJ and Mika Hartman are personal friends of The Bolton News's publisher, Clay Mansell. We wanted to use our publication to share Mika's journey as she works to change laws, perceptions and anything else she chose to tackle to make our state a better, more inclusive one. Her son, Hudson, has Down Syndrome, and she will share his journey and hers as she works with lawmakers to make Mississippi a better place to live for everyone. Please visit our website to view her blog and important information on how we can all help make Mississippi better.
As we all start to reflect on the year that is now past and to His birth and the (our) new beginning, I am reminded of how resilient we are; how hope is not gone. What the past two years have said about me is that I can bring needed change. My voice is power, and my strength is unstoppable.
At 46, I have stepped into bigger shoes, and I CAN fill them. Three and a half years ago, I gave birth to our third child. Hudson was born with Down syndrome and a large hole in his heart. We didn’t know that he would be born with transient leukemia, but that gut-punching news came on his first day of life. Even before his birthday, I was fighting for his tiny life and his best chance. Our team wanted to deliver him at 30 weeks. I refused. Less steep mountains are easier to climb. My goal each day was to flatten the mountain the best I
could. We made it to 37 weeks. Our will has power and is underestimated.
Being an advocate for my baby was easy, like with my other two. I am mom, and I speak up. I ask questions. I need to be in the know. What I didn’t know is how many laws are against my son’s life and what it really meant to be his advocate; it’s more than the typical advocate that comes with a child's birth.
The reality is that I wasn’t affected by all the laws that are poorly written until now. I didn’t know what was broken in our system until my son was born. Sadly, I never educated myself on this. But now I clearly see God and His purpose for my life... the pieces of my puzzle are fitting perfectly now. I can see the changes needed to
make this world a place where people are seen for their abilities and not punished for a disability. I will be heard.
You see, I grew up in a small town of Oklahoma. We didn’t have inclusion. Children that were “different” didn’t sit beside me in class or have lunch with us. I still don’t remember even seeing a child with special needs in my school. Either I was oblivious, or they were kept a way.
Typing this makes me sad. As the tears stream down my cheeks, I feel guilty for not asking or doing better. I know people with disabilities do exist. As a matter of fact, one in four to five persons alive do have a disability
of some kind today. So, we all should know more people, right? I think “small town” and “old school” ways of thinking are still a problem today. Fair and equal should apply, but it doesn’t. Unless we can accept a person and love them whoever and however they come into our lives, we can’t make real change. Hudson’s extra chromosome is permanent. He was born with it. It’s not a period, but more like a + sign.
Let me explain. Hudson is Hudson. He’s beautiful and full of life and curiosity. His smile is contagious, and his laughter should be bottled up and shared. It took him longer to walk, but he does walk (well, now, he runs) everywhere. Remember that leukemia diagnosis? Hudson fought it off with no medication. You read that right - he beat cancer with zero help. And his heart was repaired at three and a half months old. Hudson doesn’t talk yet, but he will. Even though words aren’t used, we still know what he wants and what he needs by him showing us. “Hudson time” is what we are on, and his time is perfect.
In the coming months, I will be sharing with you all the challenges my son faces and the laws that we have changed, are working on changing and the ones still to be changed. Don’t be a “Mika” -- learn and make a difference today, not only when it affects you.
Pro-life in our state is more than pro-conception or pro-birth; it is pro-live for ALL human life. Life is a gift, and God makes no mistakes. He knew Hudson before he was in my womb; and Hudson, too, was created
in His image. We have passed the Human Life Equality Act and Hudson’s Law (Down Syndrome Information) in our state. In the coming months, you’ll hear about Cole’s Law (Organ Transplant Discrimination Prevention
Law) and trying to eliminate Subminimum Wage (a person with a disability can sadly be paid less than minimum
wage -- and as low as TWENTY CENTS per hour). In the year ahead, I pray we can reverse the discrimination on marriage for our friends, improve support and inclusion, improve special needs education and better
embrace all human life. Clearly, Hudson fi lls big shoes, too!
This year, please take the time to show extra love to all His children, young and old. Teach your children to be kind and what inclusion really means. We celebrate everything. I often share Hudson’s inch-stones vs. his milestones. Forward moving progress is forward moving. It is all worth celebrating. There is more love on this journey than I ever could’ve imagined. Doors opening to help us make needed changes. Voices speaking up. People wanting to learn more and really help. I was asked for Hudson to be the teacher. I frowned at this at first... it is 2021, why does my three-year-old need to teach someone to be kinder and more accepting? Well, God calls us all, no matter our age. “Why not Hudson?” is a better question. There is no one better for this job.
Looking back on everything we’ve been able to celebrate and looking forward to all the new reasons, too, I am filled with hope this year -- the kind of hope that wakes you up before your parents on Christmas morning...
the real joy in filling hearts with hope, love and peace; that the world we live in CAN be better. Happy new year, with EXTRA love.