Hello Friends, I’m in Nashville on the first morning after a mom’s conference. Not just any mom’s conference. The Rockin’ Retreat. They call it a retreat because it can involve pampering and moms are encouraged to unwind. That said, I saw a lot of learning, a lot of looking for answers, a lot of partying, a lot of hugs, a lot of adventures, a lot of supportive words, a lot of…moving forward.
In fact, as I began writing this morning I thought about the word retreat and its first defination, which is “an act of moving back or withdrawing.” And I reflected that nothing I’ve seen in the women I’ve met over the last few days invokes a sense of retreat. At all. Not even a little.
Marcus is with me and has been treated like a (country) rock star since our arrival. Many of the moms here have his book at home and are lovely to share with him how much it is enjoyed by their children.
When he was the age of these mom’s children…was the world different? In some ways, but not enough. I’ll tell you one thing that wasn’t in Marcus’ and my world 20, 25, 29 years ago. There wasn’t a “loud and proud” atmosphere anywhere, even in small groups (800 strong here, but small in the spectrum of things) of “Down Syndrome Love.” It’s a refreshing attitude.
Truth is, these moms treat me a little like a celebrity, too. They are appreciative when I and other moms of older children share our experiences and encouragement. I was handed the microphone, literally and metaphorically, several times this trip and I still have one more thing to say to the newer moms on this gig*.
Dear Rockin’ Moms,
Thank you for recognizing the battles fought so far, some won, some far from done. I know however, it is the fight ahead of you – the current, continued fight for inclusive education, media representation, and communities that will make the biggest difference for my son and other adults with disabilities as they age. Truly. As you clamor and rally and vote and call and advocate, as you visualize what you want for your child now and in the future, therein lies the possibility of a better world for all our children.
Inclusion is an open door, but these doors are carved out, beaten down, and slivered through the stone because of the work of advocates and self-advocates all over the world. It’s hard, hard work that needs to be done, is done, and continues worth doing.
You’re at the beginning of a great adventure.
Marcus and I have experienced several new beginnings across his life and there are more to come. We see a few fresh adventures on the horizon and also anticipate further twists on our journey.
We won’t all agree (never have) on one best way to advocate, one perfect order to put our priorities, or even what the final utopian picture looks like, because each person’s needs are unique, cultural perspectives must be considered, and the subtler complexities of privilege, family, and even geography weave into the picture. I hope that as you learn and grow, your eyes open to greater respect for what makes us unique as well as what makes us one human family.
Most importanlty, however, in each mom I met, I saw the knowledge that her child is worth fighting for. (Even for those who are still a little shell shocked.) That is where the change begins.
Although the weekend included some rest, and play, and recharging, I have to say, I didn’t see the concept of “retreat” in any of these new momma warrior’s eyes. In that I hold great hope for the future.
Keep Rockin’ Moms. Tim Shriver said you can change the world and I believe you will.
I plan to share at least one more fun, exciting story from our trip. Which will be complete with pictures and celebrity, as is the Marcus custom. 🙂 Thanks to all the new friends made and kind expressions of support.
This has been yet another perfectly timed #BlogHop with the prompt from my friend at Finding Ninee, “I mostly fight for.” Join us here.
*”One more thing” is, of course, a lie. I will keep adding “one more things” until I die.
I’d love to hear about your recharge experience. What gives you hope? What enables you to keep fighting? And/or, what you’re fighting for…