Thursday, March 28, 2013

Equality for All

I haven't written in a while mostly due to being so busy the last few months. Todd and I remodeled our home and it was something that was much more trying than I thought it would be. Luckily, we came through it and our home, as well as our marriage, is still beautiful (and as of last week 11 years strong). That certainly got me thinking about all of the talk regarding marriage equality this week. I know I usually post about autism and disabilities talk on my blog, but I really think this topic really speaks to the fiber of our society and what it means to be a family. Which is the most important thing to me, my family.

First off, if you say that gay couples shouldn't be married because the bible says so, that is your right to believe, but we can't say that is a reason there should be a law about it because there is a separation between church and state. Religion can't govern our citizens. That is what is great about living in America.

Secondly, just because two women love each other or two men, how is that hurting you? I say that love is love and the more of it the better, because division and hate really hasn't gotten us anywhere has it?

Thirdly, if a person like Jesse James can be allowed to get married FOUR times and Liz Taylor 10+ times, why can't a gay couple get married at least once? What makes a man and a woman's relationship any better than people of the same sex? That is just silly to say that just because you are a man and a woman, you can marry as many times as you want, but if you are a same sex couple you can't.

Finally and most importantly, what does marriage mean? To me it means that as of March 16, 2002, my husband was officially my family. He was not just my best friend and the person that knows me better than anyone else in the world, but legally he was my family. That means if  something horrible was to happen to me, he is able to make decisions on my behalf. In those circumstances, there is no one else I would want to make those types of decisions for me. Unfortunately, for gay couples in certain states, they are limited to doing this for their sick or ailing spouses. They are unable to have custody of their children because they did not birth them. They cannot inherit property without paying taxes. They cannot get the benefits that married couples get by law. It makes me so sad to think that no matter how much someone loves someone else, the government can limit others on who they say is their family legally. That is wrong.

My friend reminded me yesterday that I can't change people's mind by just changing my facebook profile picture, but I thought maybe I could change people's minds by making them think. How would you feel if you someone told you that your partner could not legally be part of your family?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sticks and Stones

I have become a little more sensitive to other people's plights since my son was diagnosed with Autism. Having a child with developmental difficulties really opens your eyes to the ignorance that surrounds us everyday.

When my son was being tested to see if he was Autistic, we were taken aback when the developmental pediatrician asked if our son was "Mentally Retarded." Seriously, a medical doctor used this term. My husband and I asked what she meant by that. She said "low intelligence." We said we weren't really sure because he was only 2 years old, but regardless of her definition that word to me is derogatory. People normally do not use that in a friendly context.

Believe me, I am no angel. My husband frequently tells me I cuss like a sailor (never in front of my kids), but those words are not directed at any demographic. The words that I find horrific are the ones that single people out. I wonder, in this day, how people can use the word "Retarded" so easily but they find it unconscionable to use the "N" word or the "F" word. I can't even bring myself to type any of those words in fear it may hurt someone's feelings.

I feel awful that I used the "R" word regularly when I was a teenager to describe something as stupid. I said it freely and a lot. At the time it wasn't one of the words that people didn't correct you for saying because it was acceptable. However it has been 15 years since I was in highschool and a lot has changed.

I am sensitive to this now because I have actually had the school district tell me that my son has below average intelligence. I take it with a grain of salt because they do not know my son and they have never met my son in person, but could you imagine that from the day your child was born to be labelled with that if your child had Down's Syndrome? Someone has already marked your child to have low intelligence even before they have had a chance to prove themselves.

I know the saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," but I don't believe that it is true. Words do hurt whether they are directed at you or your child or if you hear them said by someone you thought knew better.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Perfect Vacation!

I am so happy to report that our Christmas holiday adventures were a huge success. Our family took a Disney Cruise the week before Christmas and it was everything a vacation should have been: fun, restful, and happy.

We were blessed to have taken our cruise with a group called Autism on the Seas. They set up group travel for families with Autism or other special needs. They have a staff that travels with you and provides activities and respite during your vacation. After spending a week with the staff from Autism on the Seas, I could never see us travelling any other way again.

Todd and I actually got to spend 3-4 hours a day by ourselves while the children (both A & B) played until they were exhausted with people that I felt comfortable spending time with my children. I would be fine with leaving A in the kid's club alone, but both Todd and I did not feel the same for B.

Also, although they had a lot of group activities, I also loved that we did not feel pressure to participate in everything. It was very laid back and just what we were looking for. Todd and I are already planning our next vacation with them. I can't recommend Autism on the Seas enough.

I think the best thing about our vacation was getting out of our comfort zone and allowing the kids to experience new things. I believe it is very easy to shelter special needs kids and do what is the most convenient rather than what is the most enriching. I can honestly say that there were some moments that Todd and I were both very stressed during our excursions off of the boat (waiting in lines is very difficult for B), but it was well worth it to give both of my children new and fun experiences. 

We learned so much about our two wonderful children and it certainly gave us a new appreciation for them. We learned that B loves fireworks and A is a great dancer. We also learned both of our children are not afraid to try new things like jumping on a trampoline in the middle of the ocean or going down large water slides by themselves. They also were not afraid to hold sea turtles or pet dolphins.

I know that getting away from it all gave me a new perspective on my life and my family. It taught me how fortunate I am have such a wonderful husband and two funny, unique children.

Until next time....