There is an ongoing debate in the online special needs community about over-sharing. Are we mom and dad bloggers stepping over the line when we share stories and details about our kids and their special needs?
It’s a heated debate, a thing, a downright brouhaha.
I have this blog, thank you for coming, and my special needs son makes frequent appearances in my writing. I’ve been paying attention to this issue. I’ve been listening, reading up, and thinking about this whole over-sharing thing, whether or not I do it, whether or not I care, and whether or not it’s time to bid my blog adieu.
I can get behind some of the over-sharing concern, I really can. We parents have an obligation – a sacrament, really – to treat our children with dignity, and not publicly share details for the sake of shock effect or more “likes.” On occasion, I read something a parent has thrown out there about their kid that makes me tense up and think “Eeek, that wasn’t necessary.” I do think, with our kids, we have to be a little more cognizant about what we’re sharing, but I feel okay on this front. I feel cognizant.
The other argument I’ve seen frequently that really stalls me, really trips me up, is the position that I, as a parent, should not be sharing my son’s story.
Well, huh. What makes you think I’m sharing my son’s story? I am not. I’m sharing my own story. Yeah, hi, I’m over here waving the selfish flag, but it’s all about me.
When you have a child, it’s big, it’s momentous, it’s a game-changer. But you still have your own story. The story changes, makes a sharp left, but you’re still allowed a story that includes, but is entirely separate from, your kid. I know, to some of you this is CRAZY TALK. I’m going to freak you out a little more. My son has special needs. Grab the paper bag for a few deep breaths because it is still My Story.
When I write about my son, I’m not writing about my son. I’m writing about my experiences, my learning curve, my good days, my bad days, my hands-on education as a mother, my frustrations, my triumphs, my whatever. I am not sharing my son’s story, I am writing my own. The suggestion that I should stop writing about my kid just because he is disabled is surely more offensive than anything I have ever shared.
The suggestion that I should stop writing about my kid just because he is disabled is surely more offensive than anything I have ever shared.
Will the ramblings I have thrown out there to the good people of the internet embarrass my son one day? God, I hope so. Because how typical of a rite of passage is that? Weren’t we all embarrassed by our parents? I was. Times one million.
Growing up, my dad took a banjo with us everywhere. I mean, everywhere. Vacations, birthday parties, my law school graduation. We’d be at a neighborhood swim party, for example, and after a few hours, I’d hear the banjo’s signature twang and a loud baritone voice start in with, “Trai-ler for sale or rent” (strum-strum-strum) “Rooooooms to let, fifty cents.” Inevitably, I was standing by a cute boy when my dad’s one-man Bluegrass band started, and this cute boy would roll his eyes and ask, “who’s the old guy with the banjo?” I would get red, mutter something about my dad who was intent on destroying my life, and go huddle with my besties.
The banjo was not awesome at 15. Nothing is awesome at 15. Did it hurt me? Not one bit. It’s actually sort of awesome, don’t you think? What a loss it would have been for me if my dad had silenced the music because of my teenage angst. I look back on my childhood and I have a built-in soundtrack.
The point is this: I write about my son. One day, my son might read everything I have ever written about him. I really hope so. I am writing about me, but one day, all of these words will be his soundtrack.
Rebecca Masterson is a writer, speaker, and an advocate for children. For more from Rebecca, follow her on Instagram.