It was one year ago today that I started this journey into blogging. I really had no expectations about where this would lead. I didn't know much about it. I know a bit more - there's loads of talented bloggers sharing information, making connections and opening up a new forum for parents with special needs children to share their experiences.
Unexpectedly, I have gained more from this experience than I have given:
1. I am on a roller coaster - Our experience seems more intense, faster paced and definitely mind blowing at times. The posts help me see what our lives actually look like. Finding out about seizures one day, hearing about huge progress in speech or occupation therapy the next can be exhausting. The posts are a reminder that I am on a roller coaster ride of emotions and that it is okay to slow down or even get off the ride for a little while.
2. I feel supported - The connections made through the internet are amazing. To know there are other families facing similar issues and surviving makes me stronger. Their is a certain kinship developed by reading others' blogs and commenting on their posts. 5 Minutes for Special Needs is a wonderful site supporting people like me. For some unknown reason, I have readers in Israel - that amazes and delights me.
3. I am reaching out to strangers - When I am out and about with or without Ben, I come in contact with people in the same situation as us. I give them a card (yes, I had cards made on Vista) so they may contact me or at least use the resources I have listed on this site. Having the site has given me a new confidence.
One woman I met this summer is a parent to a 31 year old son with Spina Bifida. She proudly explained to me that she fought 25 years ago for rights for her son in the schools and made it easy for parents like me. I have her card and will use it - she has so much knowledge, experience and perspective. I can learn from her.
4. I am healing - Ben's behavior therapist recently finished her dissertation on how parents cope and process having a child with special needs. Through her focus groups and research, she determined that there was one factor that separated parents who could cope with having a child with special needs and those who had a harder time. It was the ability to contribute to the greater cause and see the big picture. I hope that I am on that course with my volunteering and writing.
5. I am having fun - There are times I feel the pressure to write a post to keep up with my goal of four per week, but it is a good stress. I look forward to writing, brainstorming topics and planning my posts. It is something that is completely mine, and I get energized by the entire process from beginning to end.
6. I have extended my family - I live many hours from my family. I talk with my parents and siblings regularly, but I do not have a lot of communication with extended family. This has been a great way to stay in touch with them, letting them know about what we face each day of our lives. My husband's family members - distant cousins whom we see at weddings, funerals and reunions - have been loyal followers from the beginning. I feel love, caring and understanding from the family members who keep up with my posts.
My posts have shown family members a side of me that they did not expect. This is a chance for me to share with others what it feels like to be Ben's mom.
7. I get to do what I like - Not only do I get to write, I get to design and create. And it's a reason to stay up late, because I love when I am alone, it's quiet and no one is tugging at my sleeves, pulling my hair or biting my feet - and that's just what Ryan does to get my attention.
Thanks for the year. I will try to press on.