Saturday, November 22, 2014

What Is Wrong With People?

This is a disability meme I can get behind.
A friend of mine asked me to write a blog post.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate getting to write a blog post where I don't have to come up with an idea.

That's genius, people. In fact, if you have ideas, don't be afraid to throw them out there. I totally take requests.

Anyhow, she's been frustrated an hurt by meme's she's seen that poke fun at kids with disabilities. Some of them even use images of actual children.

So, someone has posted pictures of a child they love, only to have it taken and used to create an internet meme that pokes fun of them.

It's bullying at it's lowest.

I feel this personally, since I'm a "Special Needs" mom (which I only put in quotes because really, I'm a mom period, but have to make the distinction of being a mom who has kids with various and sundry diagnoses).

Since having kids with Special Needs, I've become part of a larger community of really incredible people. Strong parents, and strong kids.

Between us, our kids cover quite a range. Unfortunately, so do the memes.

This is one of the least offensive Autism memes out there:


How about one of the many that target Tourette's, but don't actually understand it :


I'll be honest, I can't even bear to print the ones that poke fun at kids with Achondroplasia (Dwarfism) or Down Syndrome. They literally hurt my heart.

So, I have to ask the question: What is wrong with people?

Autism is a real diagnosis that presents challenges for those who live with it. And for those who are severely affected, it presents incredible challenges for their whole families, the likes of which idiots making these kinds of memes can't even imagine.

Tourette's Syndrome is a neurological condition that causes physical and vocal tics, and does not cause all sufferers to shout random obscenities. I'd love to see the assholes who write these memes try to live that way for a day. I doubt it would be so funny after that. 

I have mentioned at least once before that my friend has had people on the street take pictures of her 3 year old son with Achondroplasia. I can't imagine the kind of callous disrespect necessary for someone to do that. And I can't imagine what it would be like for someone to think they had the right to stop and take my child's picture. Little People are not just curiosities.

My friend has not yet been charged with assault. Which I'm pretty sure means she's a better person than I am.

One of my oldest and dearest friends has a child with Down Syndrome. And I have a child who is developmentally challenged. I have watched as our kids struggled, and worked tirelessly to accomplish things that come so easily to other people. To see people treat their challenges as something to ridicule, as opposed to seeing how much they've accomplished and how much cause we have to celebrate...I'll be honest. It's hurtful.

These kids work twice as hard as everyone else, to get half as far, and yet they're not bitter and angry. 

They're not unkind. 

And I'll throw in another pet peeve of mine: The R-Word memes. I was going to post one of the many that include the word, but they honestly made me too angry.

So, let me explain, simply when it's okay to use the R-Word. Unless you are using the word for some kind of scientific term paper in which you are talking about the growth of something being retarded by the application of something else, refer to this:


Because the thing is, people who are developmentally delayed or challenged, they're not stupid. They're not lazy. They have their own skills, they want to learn, and they work harder than almost anyone else. And to try to insult someone by comparing them to these incredibly special people, is insulting to those with the disability, who deserve to be in better comparative company. 

The people who make these kinds of memes need to stop trying to cover up their own lack of wit or intelligence by highlighting their own ignorance. 

I wonder how much less funny they would find their own memes, if they had a child who suffered from one of these conditions. 

Really, I feel no reason to wallow in self pity of any kind. 

My kids are here. They're growing, learning, and thriving. And while I find these memes upsetting, and I hope people know the truth about kids like mine, I also will not spend a great deal of time and energy on the people who create them.

After all, I know they won't stop. These kinds of people rarely think beyond their own immediate self-interest, and would say that I'm just being sensitive and should get over it. 

I do take some comfort in the idea that these things say so much more about the people who write them, than they do about our kids or the other people they target. And I'm grateful that the people who make the memes are few (if prolific) and that in reality, even on the internet, we have been largely embraced by people who have supported us and cheered for us.

You make such a difference to families like mine. When we feel exhausted and overwhelmed, you listen and encourage us. 

Thank you for that.

And if you know someone who makes memes like this. Please feel free to share with them some colorful words. Tell them the message is from me.

*****
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What If You Don't Love It?

Enjoying a motherhood moment with Quinn a couple of years ago
There was an article on Scary Mommy, written by an anonymous mother, who wants to tell the world her darkest secret: She doesn't like being a mom.

Reading the piece was hard.

This mom rejects the caveat placed at the end of even the most annoyed of posts, by people like me. That caveat in which say that we wouldn't change it for the world, and that we love being a mom.

For her, it's not true.

I have some thoughts about this.

First of all, this is why we shouldn't pressure people into having kids. There's this thing called "childless by choice", and it's a perfectly reasonable decision for people to make for themselves. Some people have different dreams and desires. Some have different goals for their lives. Some have different gifts to give the world. And you know what? It's none of my damn business to judge it, and it's certainly not my job to change their minds.

Maybe if we stopped insisting that people will love having kids, people would feel less pressured to have kids that they don't actually want.

Maybe if we were more accepting of the fact that some people are childless by choice, then more people would stay that way when that's really what's going to make them happy.

Secondly, I don't know if we lie to ourselves or if we lie to the world, but I tend to think that we all at some point, think about what our lives would be like if we didn't have kids.

I imagine working full time in a career that I love. I have gorgeous clothes, and really great hair.

I come home in the evening to an immaculate condo, because no one has moved anything while I was gone. There are no messes to clean up, because I  haven't made any.

I walk to the fridge and take out some delicious leftovers. Because not only do I have disposable income for things like eating out at nice restaurants, but when I put my leftovers in the fridge, no one else eats them.

I kick of my high heels (the shoes I never wear in my real life), and enjoy the fact that I still have my slender high school figure (I don't), while I kick back on a fabulous couch that doesn't have any jelly on it anywhere, listen to the sound of smooth jazz, and drink a glass of wine.

And that's funny, because I don't really like smooth jazz, like, at all.

Of course the reality is that I've always been someone who wanted a family, and my biggest career goal was to be a midwife. Really, if I were single and without kids, I'd actually be very lonely and sad. So, for me, this exercise in imagination is a temporary thing, devoid of any kind of reality.

But oh yeah, sometimes I think about it.

Of course I love my kids. And so does the mother who wrote that article.

Despite all these feelings she has, that maybe she really wasn't supposed to be a mom at all, she loves her kids. Her feelings scare her so much that she doesn't even put her name to the piece, for fear that they might see it.

If any of us are having feelings like that, we need to seek outside help. That mom can't change that she chose to be a mother. But she can find tools to help her thrive, and be the best she can be for her kids and for herself too.

There may even be an underlying issue at play that she doesn't fully understand. She shouldn't have to be unhappy.

I hate that any mother should feel that she has to walk that path in silence, and in secret, consumed by guilt.

There is help out there.

Even those of who love it, sometimes don't. Sometimes we hate it. Sometimes we go walk around Target for an hour just to have no one hanging on us. Sometimes it's hard, and it's scary, and and we don't have any clue what we're doing or how anyone thought this was something we were capable of.

But if those moments are the ones that are creating the narrative of your maternal experience, then talk to someone. Those feelings don't have to last forever.

Every mother should get to love it. At least most of the time.

*****
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pecan Pie: It's Our Safe Word

We've all been there (or please, lie to me and tell me we've all been there), where you're playing with your child, who is clearly having a good time, but you need it to be over.

You're done playing and it needs to stop, but there is no way to stop it without suddenly killing the fun.

No one likes to be the fun killer. Especially when you spend most of your day telling people they have to do things they don't want to. Like eat their vegetables, brush their teeth, put on pants. Liam especially dislikes that last one.

So, today I was playing with Bridget. She was trying to get a blanket away from me. It's soft and fleecy on one side and had just come out of the dryer.

We were having a good time, but I had other things to do, and she would not stop wrestling me for the blanket.

When I finally did get her to stop, she was mad at me. After all, I'm mean.

I tried to explain that I lose my big end-of-the-year mom bonus if I don't suck the fun out of things. But somehow, that didn't make it better for her.

So, I came up with an idea. Maybe what we needed was a safe-word. Something that either one of us could say to end a game without taking all the fun away, or making each other mad. It would also be a good way to say that something was going too far (that usually happens when the kids are playing with each other).

Bridget came up with "Pecan Pie" which is now our new safe word. And she says it in a funny voice, so it makes me laugh when she says it. I, of course, try to mimic her voice, so that makes her laugh too.

I like it when I don't have to solve every issue all by myself.

*****
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Monday, November 17, 2014

The Perfect Mother Dilemma

Can I just say that I think the Mommy wars are bullshit?

I don't know what the draw is in having women fight each other instead of support each other, but it's really a giant waste of time or energy.

Whether you are a SAHM, a WAHM, or a WOHM you work. You are up early and you go to bed late. You do a full time job, and are on call 24/7. Your kids won't suffer just because you're doing it one way over the other.

Granted, my 3 year old is screaming bloody murder at the moment, but that's because we're assholes who took a pencil away so he couldn't poke himself in the eye with it. We clearly didn't understand his grand plan for world domination with nothing but that pencil, and now all he can do is rail against the inhumanity of it all.

We ruin everything.

But it's not because I got a job. It's because I'm mean.

I have breastfed and formula fed. I have diapered in both sposies and cloth. I have given some of my babies pacifiers, and others I didn't. I have made a hundred different parenting choices, that I thought mattered so much. And they did. But not because I'm so perfect and have all the answers. But because they were what my family needed. Or what that particular child needed. Or, imagine this: sometimes, it was what I needed.

Perfection is just not possible. We will drive ourselves crazy trying to achieve it.

So, do you want my advice for being an awesome mother? Of course you do!

Make mom friends. Having other moms to commiserate with, and to share the excitement with, is priceless.

Don't trash talk your kids. Being frustrated with something going on is fair. Talking trash is just not cool, and it's not fair to your kids who trust you with their most intimate secrets. You wouldn't want them talking that way about you, don't do it to them.

Respect their privacy. I know, I write a blog about my family, what do I know about privacy? Well, there are a lot of stories I don't tell. They'd be freaking hilarious, but they're just not my stories. And at a certain point I don't share things without my kids permission.

Since perfection isn't possible, stop judging yourself (and other moms) by an unattainable ideal. We're all doing the best we can with whatever circumstances we have.

Kids who know they're a priority, do better. They know they matter and that they're loved. But you have to have something to give. So, remember to take care of yourself. You matter too.

And when you need it, take a time-out. Because sometimes that five minutes alone is what you need to remember that we are not a species who eat their young.

Tonight I think I'm going to celebrate being just a super-ok mom with a glass of wine and an early bedtime.

After all, they're going to be thinking up new ways to rule the world tomorrow, and it'll be all up to me to thwart their plans.

Like I do.

*****
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