Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Not a New Debate

When I was a kid, my mom worked for our local devision of The Arc - an organization that advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She still works there, actually. As a result, I was around people with disabilities a lot as a kid. I have such fond memories.

Back then, the medical diagnosis was mental retardation (and, yes, this sentence makes me feel really old). These days, if you're not aware, the correct diagnostic term is intellectual disabilities. Mental retardation is an outdated term.

I still remember my mom coming home from work one day and talking about the debate to change verbiage. I remember the conversations we had then about how it wasn't just about the words used, but the attitudes behind it. We talked about how people would find a way to demean and abuse whatever was the new medical diagnosis.

Which brings me to the word retard, a word I have a hard time even typing. It's a demeaning word, something that has been twisted and contorted over time to mean something cruel. It's a word - derived from a medical diagnosis - that was so misused over time that the medical diagnosis itself needed to be changed. Just think about that for a moment. And yet, everyone knows what group of people the word retard is referring to. And everyone knows it's not nice. Whenever the r-word escapes your mouth, you are - intentional or not - making fun of people with intellectual disabilities.

It's disrespectful.
It hurts.
It's not funny.
It makes you sound uninformed and unkind.

As someone who enjoys writing, words matter to me. I implore you to examine the words you use. If the r-word is part of your vocabulary, consider trying to come up with something better. Not only that, examine how you think and feel about people with disabilities. Do you consider them with love and respect? What we say about each other matters.

This isn't a new debate. It is something I've been hearing about my entire life. But, there isn't a debate about this: a whole lot of people are hurt by the r-word.

Don't say it.

Tomorrow is Spread the Word to End the Word Day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Sweet Memory

I had a memory a few weeks ago. I'm finally taking the time to write it down...
Fairytales do come true - sometimes with baby legs in the face
Andy and I were at a department store. Except this wasn't any normal shopping trip. We were on our way to visit our sweet little Elijah in the NICU. I needed to pick up a few things for my ever changing new mom body. If you must know, I was in dire need of nursing bras. If I hadn't needed something so important, we wouldn't have been shopping instead of visiting our son.

I quickly grabbed a couple of things and longingly looked at the baby clothes as we walked by the infant department on the way out of the store. My hand rested on a blue and white outfit, allowing myself to feel the softness of the fabric between my fingers. I dreamed about dressing our baby boy and taking him home.

Standing there, I recalled months earlier when we'd been in the same store and I saw some cute infant clothes.
"Andy, look at these," I gushed at outfits that were tiny and pastel.
Andy nodded, but didn't admire the cuteness as I did.
"Yep, that one outfit is 20 dollars, Lisa. And the baby will wear it for how long? A month?"
"I wasn't saying we should buy them," I replied. "I was just admiring them. They're soooo cute."
On that day, we left without buying anything for our baby-to-be.

But, on the day we took a detour to on our way to visit our son in the NICU, I held the blue outfit - and all of my dreams - in my hands. Andy took the outfit and it's matching blanket off the rack and out of my hands without a word. He looked at me and I looked at him and we knew each other's thoughts. We were going to buy this outfit for our son. And we did. Then we drove to see our sweet baby and dreamed of the day when he would get to wear it.

Elijah did eventually wear the outfit - probably a total of two times.

It was worth every full-priced penny.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Writing More

I only wrote 13 posts last year. Thirteen. That's only one a month and it bums me out. Back in 2009, I wrote 114 posts. Those were the days.

It bums me out because I am a writer and I should be writing more.

I write constantly in my head, probably several times a day. I wrote an entire post in my head tonight while making supper - except it's kind of hard to get those thoughts out onto a keyboard when your hands are covered in chicken. Now I have no idea what I was thinking/writing. I write posts often in the shower - except my computer can't get wet and the words fall from my brain and get washed down the drain.

I miss it, though... the sharing that takes place when I make the time to write, when I connect with others through words. Part of me wishes that I could connect a cord to my brain so that these posts I write in my brain would be shared here. Except, no, I don't really wish that. That, my friends, is something out of 1984 and I want no part of it. So, being a writer means I need to get myself to my computer more often. Being a writer means admitting that I am a writer, whether or not I've ever been published. Being a writer means realizing that most people probably don't constantly write essays in their head. I am a writer, even if it's sometimes hard for me to admit it.

It's 2014 and I'm not off to a great start. I should be writing. Not just writing, but writing more.

Someone glue me to my keyboard. Or something.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Time Flies When You're Having Fun


Monday, December 30, 2013

I Love Him So Much It Hurts

One of the hardest parts of being Elijah's mom (or dad) is this: Not knowing what is going on in his head - especially when he's sad and we don't know why. I wrote the following a couple of weeks ago, but never finished it. I thought I'd share it now as it still applies to me and I thought maybe another mom (or dad) might relate.


We're driving home from school and Elijah starts sobbing. I have no idea why. I have no way to get the information from him, no way to crawl inside of his brain to scoop out the information that I want to know - that I so desperately need to know. And even worse is the knowledge of this simple fact: In spite of years of therapy, Elijah's communication skills are still quite limited and he has no way to let me know what he's thinking.

Elijah sobs and we get home and he cries some more. I bring the boys inside and I help Elijah get off his boots and hat and mittens. I help Oliver too. Our winter clothes sit laying in piles as I try to contain my two boys who both need me so much. Elijah is still crying and pulling at my hand while Oliver repeats his "mom-mom" refrain while pulling on my leg.

All I want to do is take off my stupid boots.

I turn on Elijah's music and that satisfies him some, but he's still not happy and I don't know why. I'm not happy either.

It's not long before I'm sobbing too; the heartbreak is just too much. I can't handle his sadness, his tears. The possible reasons for his unhappiness scroll through my mind like rolling credits...did something bad happen at school? Does he hate coming home? Does he want a different song? Is his brother bothering him? Is he not feeling well? Does he want to watch TV? The pressure weighs down on me, squeezing my heart in a vise. I love him so much it hurts.

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