I shared a counting video of Nella on Instagram yesterday and admitted that “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some worries and long-buried fears creeping up in regards to public inclusive education and how a bigger, less-controlled-by-her-mama world treats her. But I’m also ready for new challenges. We go into this Joan of Arc style. We are not afraid…we were born to do this.”
A comment: “JFC. Why is it always about how YOU feel? Whenever you discuss Nella and her diagnosis, it’s always about how YOU feel about the challenges; not her. It says a lot.”
I don’t usually respond to troll comments, but this topic! Such a fiery one for me because hearing how other people feel is SOUL FOOD for me—it’s why I love memoirs so much. That brings me to another comment that cracked me up, shortly after I wrote Bloom. “This memoir was all about you. I wanted to read more about Nella.” Which made me think one of two things happened. Either the reader stumbled into the MEMOIR section by accident and didn’t realize it or the baby feet on the cover fooled her, and she thought it was actually a memoir written BY A BABY. And, let’s be honest, I’d have totally bought that book too.
My goodness, I wish Nella could write about her feelings! Or even talk about them more in a way that could help me truly understand what goes on in her sweet little brain. When she’s older and understands her challenges more, wouldn’t that be great if she talked or wrote about how she felt about them? I look forward to that. Until that time, through that time, and—well, ‘til my dying breath—when I talk about feelings, it’s quite likely I’ll be talking about the feelings I can best express—my own.
Social media is swelling with cute baby photos, first steps videos and stories about kids galore, and I love them. I tap ‘em, like ‘em, thumbs up ‘em, share my own and hope they keep coming because babies and kids make me happy. But you know what I tap, like and thumbs up even more? Moms sharing their feelings about motherhood, an important and separate journey from the child’s. Please, dear God, don’t ever let moms stop talking about how THEY feel because, aside from the fact that our babies’ feelings are precious and important and great guides for our actions, moms relate best to the feelings of other moms, believe it or not. Let the moms raising kids with any needs—from fingernails that need to be clipped to the most demanding and heart-wrenching—know that their child’s journey and feelings are sacred, but so are their own.
Let us continue to ask one of the most valuing questions we can ever ask a friend, a loved one, a mother on her journey, especially a journey that involves the challenges and sometimes loneliness that special needs can bring….HOW DOES THIS MAKE YOU FEEL? Did you lie in bed and cry at night when no one was looking? Did you feel guilty for those feelings? Did your stomach do those flip-flops that made you want to throw up? Were you scared? Was it the happiest you’ve ever felt? Were you lonely? Were you excited? Did you have someone to share it with? TELL ME MORE. And when we talk about it—the good, the bad, the scary, the beautiful—we can share and understand those feelings better. Which makes us better moms, I’m sure of it.
The one thing on which we can agree: raising kids, loving babies, watching our hearts beating out there in the world? The most intense feelings we’ll ever have.
So, dear reader, when I discuss Nella and her diagnosis, I often talk about my feelings. Because our feelings are a gift, and I’m sharing mine with you. Happy Early Valentine’s Day.