I did a writing workshop on Wednesday (this actually did not make me cry), went to several panels, picked up some great kernels of information including:
• Quora, an ever-changing collection of questions and answers created, edited and organized by a user community. I am telling you, DO NOT LOOK AT THIS if you have no room for any other time sucks in your life. It is addictive.
• Titles of post should never be more than 70 characters long or search engines won't find them, which means I should not ever title a post Max Is Still Obsessed With Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple and...Purple.
• This YouTube video, A Mom Talks With the Director of Special Education, is funny and too true (thanks to social media genius Kim Moldofsky for sharing).
The conference set up "tribes," to pair up people with common areas of interest. There's a green tribe, a design tribe, a travel tribe, you get the picture. I am the tribe leader for the Sexy Moms tribe. Oh, OK, I am the tribe leader for Special Needs. A group of us got together yesterday and shared stories and some of us cried a little. I think the Fashion tribe was the next table over and, oddly enough, none of them seemed the least bit wrought.
When I hear moms with younger kids talking about their children, it takes me back to that time and I well up. I know where they are, I know the pain they're feeling, I know the anxiety they have. In general, though, I'm at the point where I can talk about what happened to Max without crying...usually. But I lost it at the panel I was on yesterday afternoon, Advocates and Activists: Harnessing Social Media for Social Good In The Face Of Compassion Fatigue.
My co-panelists: Anissa Mayhew from Free Anissa (who's dealt with a child who has cancer and her own stroke and who is one of the funniest women I know), Ellie Schoenberger from One Crafty Mother (who's overcome alcoholism), and Ryan from Pacing The Panic Room (who created a kiddie CD, Do Fun Stuff, to benefit Smith Magenis Syndrome, which his step-son has). The moderator was Megan Jordan of Velveteen Mind, an exceptionally wonderful person.
I was already emotional by the time I started talking. Catherine Connor from Her Bad Mother did an introduction where she spoke of her trip to Lesotho, Africa for the Global Fund's Born HIV-Free program. She met with a group of blind children who had HIV; one of the girls sang a Beyonce song for her (scroll down Catherine's sidebar to see it).
Meagan spoke of her home being completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and showed a picture of herself and her little boy standing in the footprint of his former room.
I so didn't want to cry when I spoke, because part of the message I try to spread is that Max is not a tragedy, and that he shouldn't be pitied. But, damn, when I started talking about the list of stuff the doctors told us could lie in his future (he might never walk or talk, he could have mental retardation, he could have vision and hearing problems), I cried. In front of a roomful of people.
It passed, but once again, I was surprised by how my emotions hijacked me. These days, I can talk matter-of-factly about Max's cerebral palsy and his challenges. But eight years into his life, there's still rawness when I talk about his birth.
How do you react when you talk about what happened to your child or his/her diagnosis?