tobogganing
Adoption and Family,  adoption and tweens,  family,  Health,  parenting

Why I am Speaking Martian Again: FASD Looks Like This and I am Still Proud to be a Health and Special Needs Blogger

tobogganing
tobogganing

It’s been an interesting week here, in which several signs have made me realize again what I am supposed to be writing about. It’s funny how sometimes you, as a blogger, get tunnel vision watching stats and striving for growth and page views and SEO. These are the tools of the trade and we all get really great at understanding them. We watch our posts for engagement and comments and we tick them off and file them away with headings like: improved or needs improvement, or blogging goals for the year. We worry on a day when the stats dive and we question sometimes what happened there. We wallow. We question what am I doing wrong? Then a post about some dessert you made goes through the roof and is shared on Facebook 100s of times and comments are so positive and you say to yourself: okay then clearly I have to write more about desserts and you find yourself, aproned, dusted with icing sugar and flour, five pounds heavier than your usual weight, writing about products and staging parties with desserts trying to duplicate that success. But it’s like trying to capture a genie in a bottle. These things like viral, are rarely duplicated and when we can’t repeat the formula for success we start to question our blogs, our worth, our writing. (I watched a roundup post about gluten free food go crazy this month on my blog and I sat stupefied wondering what or how or why it happened.) And after your fifth or sixth post about desserts you think, what the heck? What am I doing? I have a degree in astrophysics (not really) or English Literature (yes really) and I am writing about pie, or vacuum cleaners. WHAAAAAT??? Why? Why am I doing this? And how the heck did I gain five pounds and which weight loss company can I pitch so I can post about losing said five pounds.

But this week two things happened. I invited a speaker on FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) to come to the adoptive parents group that I help facilitate in London, Ontario and I couldn’t even keep up with all the RSVPs. People were coming from Goderich, St. Thomas, Hamilton in a snowstorm to see a speaker who would talk about caregiving and FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. For the record FASD is a brain injury caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.) And it was a great event, and the speaker was highly entertaining and inspiring and supportive. Workers attended and some caregiver’s parents showed up ( so a child’s adoptive grandparents learning how to be a better parent and help support their son or daughter while also learning what works better for their grandchild. I can’t tell you how much I love that dynamic because I might start to cry. ) and everyone seemed to get some help or support or new nugget of info from Jeff Noble’s talk. Check him out, follow him if you need support. (FASDFOREVER.com). And in a room full of old friends, and new contacts, and some total strangers, I remembered again why I started writing right after we adopted our second daughter. I found myself nodding like a bobble head at every comment. That’s so true, I thought. That is me. That is my daughter. That is us together making sense of life on Mars. I remembered some of the reasons and some of my strengths in parenting, connecting and supporting. It felt good and it fit like an old pair of jeans, before the blogger butt set in.

When I started blogging, it was a way to make sense of this life – the one people sometimes call life in Holland. I call it life on Mars. Then again I guess since we are about to try to colonize Mars I may need to pick a new planet as special needs metaphor. ;? Special needs parenting and writing is a small field, such a tiny niche really. I remember why I resisted that box for awhile. It is sometimes depressing to be speaking Martian all day. You burn out. Period. But it is the space where people connect with me, my family and my writing. It’s the unique thread that tired all of us together inside a room listening to Jeff Noble talk. We all get this surreal life. And it is privileged and beautiful and back breaking and so very hard.

The other thing that happened this week was that a reporter, a dear old friend from my daily newspaper reporting days, DMed me. Because that’s what we do these days, or we PM on Facebook. My people know they can always hunt me down there, even when I can’t recall how to answer the phone (Right, Margarita?) She wanted to talk about a national study that’s been released from Centre for Addictions and Mental Health about the economic costs of FASD. She recalled my name and a portion of my story. So, we started to tell that story again. As we grow the story evolves, even if it always starts the same. Regardless of any of that…I started speaking Martian again. The story went live late last night. You can find it here: http://www.lfpress.com/2015/02/25/a-costly-tragic-legacy or here: 

And that was my second lightbulb moment. There are a lot of caregivers living on metaphorical Mars. Dozens have messaged me and emailed and asked if I know of support groups in Stratford or St Mary’s or on line. I have seen dozens of friends and fellow caregivers around North America sharing my Facebook post with the link to the article about FASD. And I have heard from some who said I just printed this out and sent it to our school board in Wisconsin, and I took it in to my son’s teacher. Some have asked do I know how to get the school to do an assessment once and for all? Can I help with X or Y? And my heart is full from the amount of wonderful kind comments. And I remembered too that it is the hardest thing in the world to parent our kids with special needs, even when sometimes it can also be the most rewarding thing as well. I find myself speaking Martian again. Oh I still speak a bit of SEO, but I am fluent in Martian. Turns out I never lost it. I just stopped speaking it for awhile.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.

33 Comments

  • Robin (Masshole Mommy)

    You sound like such an amazing mom. Parenting isn’t easy, special needs or not, so kudos to you for having such a positive attitude.

  • Pam

    I totally get what you are saying. I know I have lost my way and keep asking myself how that heck that happened in regards to blogging. You kind of get caught up in it all and making a little money or getting a newfangled vacuum is kind of nice.

    I think it is important to get grounded and get back to what made your really want to blog in the first place. I can see you have a passion for something that is personal to you and a topic that if you write about it, can help many. I think you to a great job speaking Martian and it is something I like to read. 😉

    • Paula

      Thanks Pam: I think when I switched over to WordPress and things changed for me I had to learn more about SEO and links again and there’s a place for that but not if it interferes with me speaking my heart and genuinely connecting. It’s so easy to fall into that trap of just writing for SEO and miss writing for your audience.

  • Jennifer Heintz

    I got here by a convoluted route, but enjoyed reading this blog. Not having much knowledge of FASD, but much knowledge and experience in being a caregiver, I understand that you want to write something meaningful, and not get the ‘hits’ from the ridiculous. I hope your passion, and what seems to be great knowledge in your area gets you the rewards.

    • Paula

      Ha! Kristen: Thanks for the super kind comment. My calling and my job typically both fill me with happiness and joy and energy. I am glad I was reminded of that by Jeff this week.

  • Pam

    We can definitely get tunnel vision and focus more on the numbers of our blog instead of posting what we actually want/need to post. You sound like an amazing mother.

  • April at My Captivating Life

    My husband recently got a piece of wall art that said “To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world”. This made me think of that. Just imagine the difference you have made and how many people you have helped. What you are doing is important. 🙂

  • Lois Alter Mark

    Great post and totally puts things in perspective. It’s so easy to get caught up in the business part of blogging until something comes along to show you what’s really important.

  • Theresa

    I’m with Pam here. It is so easy to get caught up and distracted from your original blog plans. I am guilty of doing this myself and am slowly wading through the waters to get back where I originally started.

  • Anne | The Chef's Wife @TheSatEvePot

    It’s almost crazy how good it feels when you finally find someone who understand the struggle, issue or challenge you have survived because they have been through something similar. Hence, the need, prevalence and popularity, I guess, of support groups. FASD must be imaginably difficult. I have a bachelor’s in Psychology and I was fascinated and saddened when I learned about this disorder.

    I wish your family all the best in navigating through it and applaud you for how you are handling it. As an adoptee who has been through all kinds of stuff with adoptive parents who never “got it” or even tried, for that matter, it does my heart tremendous good when I come across adoptive parents who truly loved their child through whatever challenges/issues came out of his/her situation which he/she never asked for or had any control over.

    • Paula

      Anne: That breaks my heart to read. I think we need to do so much better for kids. Kids in care need more and should have more support not less. And we need to do better educating adoptive parents and foster parents always.

      • Anne | The Chef's Wife @TheSatEvePot

        Yes! And thankfully …. I had amazingly wonderful foster parents. I reconnected with them when I searched for my biological family years ago and they have loved and supported me through all the mess with my adoptive family. I am so blessed by them … and I know that not all foster situations are good.

  • Rosey

    I laughed about the phone. I use DM or FB instant way more than the phone too. 😉 AND I think it’s wonderful that you took the time out to write this post!!

  • Lisa RIos

    Absolutely wonderful, love the way you have shared your amazing experience of being a loving & caring mom. I love your positive approach to everything & you are definitely inspiring.

  • Chrystal | Self Employed Writer

    As someone who has been doing this blogging thing for a long time, its easy to get caught up in it. Then, its easy to get caught up in life and the blog slacks. Sometimes slacking off to take care of other things welcomes you back with a fresh new pair of eyes.

  • Brenda Lacourciere

    Wow, what a great story. It takes a special mom to deal with everything you do each day. Kudos.