There are so many things that I love about being a writer. Some are practical, like setting my own schedule and having the flexibility to work from home. Others include funny little perks, like dragging my introvert self out to social events, thinking: well, if this bombs, at least I’ll have something to write about. There is great satisfaction in having ideas stuck in my head, and then sitting down and pounding away at the keyboard and seeing them come alive on the screen. As Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird, most of writing is getting your butt in the chair. I write for all sorts of reasons.
I also won’t deny that my ego gets a thrill seeing my name in a byline (especially this one. How do I top that?).
When I write about life with Aaron, my 11 year old son with Down syndrome, I hope to inspire, motivate and educate. And spark discussion. I never want to be known as the ‘special needs mom’ because even though I am Aaron’s mom, he’s so much more than ‘special needs’. I’m mom to two other kids, who have taught me a lot about myself, too.
Alas, there is so much fear and ignorance in the world about disability that I do use my name to spread the word of love and compassion. As Stephanie Mitelman said at a workshop I was at on Saturday, we need to evolve beyond merely tolerating people with differences to accepting them, and then celebrating their awesomeness. I will toot that horn whenever I can.
I wrote The Invisible Mom to address the issue of exclusion. We aren’t even at the stage of tolerance of people with differences in some settings, never mind acceptance and celebration. Plus, I wrote it when I was MAD. I’m not sure I would recommend writing when you are mad, but this topic was really stuck in my head, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. (I’ve written when I was mad before, here). Good or bad, I write about topics that evoke emotion in me, and that emotion isn’t always joy.
The Invisible Mom was first published last June in Bloom. Then it got republished by Huffington Post. The Invisible Mom suddenly had legs. The Internet is a funny place. Things get picked up and are popular for a short period of time. Then everybody gets interested in something else, and the attention dies off.
But things on the Internet never go away, and The Invisible Mom has been resurrected 17 months later. I’m pleased that two other writers have written responses to it. One is Feeling Included by Julie Drury, and the other is written by Beth Dangerfield and called, What if I don’t want in?
Having a response written to a piece is high praise. I know that these essays were written because these women had something else to say about social exclusion. They don’t necessarily feel the same way as I do, and that’s totally ok, because final reason that I am a writer is to help jumpstart thinking and open a dialogue about topics that are important to me.
And now, voila, The Invisible Mom is now more visible. And frankly, that’s all I really wanted. Let’s keep on telling our stories to the world, everyone, and kudos to Julie and Beth for their writing. That’s the only way change is going to happen in this damn, imperfect, beautiful world.