Sunday, January 10, 2010

We revisit, yet again, much to my dismay.....the "R" word

If you were to enter my home this moment, do you know what you would hear? Do you? Well, I'll tell you. You would hear: NOTHING. Yes, I said nothing. Except for the rhythmic ticking of my mantle clock, the light whirring of the washing machine and slight static emanating from Zoey's monitors, there is silence. That my friends, is unheard of, no pun intended, around here. Jess and Matt are running errands, Mark and the boys are at the park and sweet Zoey is down for a nap. With Taylor back at school and Danny, Caitlin and Charlotte in San Diego, that leaves me, all by my lonesome. Heaven to some but to me, don't know quite what to do with the down time.

We went to church this morning, got cleaning out of the way afterwards, ran to the grocery store, made lasagna for tonight and yeah, here I sit. Me and my thoughts. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I figured I would post and leave the evening computer free, and as I sat here and contemplated what to write about, the same topic kept resurfacing over and over again. I have debated on whether or not to post about this. Caitlin wondered if tainting this place, Zoey's site was the right answer, in fact as a family we have discussed what we would do with the events of the week, if anything. In the end, I went back to my original intent of this blog. Some blogs are strictly a venue to keep families and friends, that live a distance apart, in the loop. For some, this is a timeless record of daily life events, a scrapbook so to speak. Still some, find blogging to be a perfect forum to educate, vent and share, with others or simply a place for yourself, perhaps no one will ever see what is written. For me, it is a combination of all of the above. And when my heart is the heaviest and I am looking to sort out and process, often this is the place I end up. So today, in the silence and stillness, I write.

Blogging and Facebook are all good. Well, usually good and usually harmless. But least anyone forget, they are often public. For anyone to see. So when one decides to vent, share, converse, one better keep in mind that you are not, unless you have taken measures and precautions, in a private forum. On the contrary. All the world can see what you write. And like it or not, you are left open to receive the opinions, asked for or not, backlash, like it or not and judgment, right or wrong.

In the instance I am referring to, I was able to see a disturbing conversation, between two of my relatives, that basically culminated with the dreaded "retard, retarded" word being dropped. Hello?? Does anyone, who knows me, at all, think I would just skim over that and let it go. I owe it to all my little loves and big loves for that matter, who have no voice of their own, to stand up to the often misused, as an absolute, no other word for it, insult. Does Zoey have "mental retardation?" Yes I suppose she does. That is the medical term used for people with cognitive, developmental delays. I get that. But when you start throwing out ignorant stereotypes, all at the expense of these beautiful HUMAN BEINGS, that is a whole other story.

So I wrote a very brief Facebook message to the two said parties and said, and I quote, "This is Heather, mom to "semi-retarded", Zoey. The conversation brought to my attention, SICKENED me. It speaks to character and heart." End quote. There was one little part I left out for all reading this, to possibly spare these two the embarrassment, of everyone and anyone, knowing who I am referring to. The responses I received looked nothing like admissions in lapse of judgment but rather indignation that I would have the nerve and the audacity to call them out. But,when you decide to make jokes and remarks in reference to my child or any other child or person, directly or indirectly, and their intellectual capabilities, or lack there of, you will hear from me regardless of whether you are family, estranged or otherwise, friends or complete strangers. I have done it in the past and I will continue to do so. My daughter gives me the courage to speak out and the confidence to confront people even in and most especially, in an uncomfortable situation.

The events that transpired, or rather the text messages and emails I received in rapid succession, are not fit for print. Seriously. I received 16 text messages. To which I responded only twice. 4 messages had sentences that looked like this " ...blah, blah, blah you retard." 4 messages, from a blood relative, that called me, Zoey's mother, a "retard." One said, "grow up and fight your cause with those who will listen because no one I know wants to hear your bullsh** anymore." My cause? You bet it is my "cause." Zoey and advocating for her and all others like her, IS MY CAUSE and I will continue and continue and continue to address hurtful and hateful people, like this, every chance I get. Mark arrived home, to read the messages, responded with one text to above mentioned person, to which he received 17 messages, under 10 minutes, that were more evil and hateful then the ones I previously had received. None were responded to. How does one fight such hatred and ignorance?

If this is in fact the the ignorance and hate that I must fight within the confines of my own family, I often wonder what awaits us later in this great big world. I have to hold on to the unwavering belief that good will prevail. My faith tells me so. My child, who possesses, such pure innocence, tells me so. There have been many moments over the last almost 3 years, that I have thought how lucky Zoey is. How lucky she is that she will not know the sadness and injustices of this life. That she will be protected, at all cost, from the cruel, inhuman acts of others, in deeds or words, by us her family, that will stop at nothing, to shelter her from harm. Always.

So in the stillness of this Sunday afternoon, I chose to write. And now, the house begins to bustle once again, with laughter and love. Everyone pouring in from their afternoon activities, all making a b-line to Miss Zoey, for hugs and kisses, I know I did the right thing. My stillness was well spent.


Angi said...

Heather I ALWAYS think the right thing is to speak up!!! Growing up with two brothers with Downs I had to deal with the "R" word at a very young age (meaning- saying something about how wrong it was!!)...I don't recall it being easy then ...or now...I still don't sit by idle if someone chooses to use such a word!! Good for you!! And thank you for will always take courage for some people to stand up and say IT IS NOT OK!!

datri said...

It's such a fight. People just don't get it. I usually just defriend people who use the R word.

Monica said...


I am going to respond to this probably tomorrow...At the moment I am getting prepared for the Doctor tomorrow. I have torn my medial meniscus in my right knee. I can't sit, I can stand, I can't sleep! But I wanted to let you know now that I have read what you wrote and understand COMPLETELY what you feel.
I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine..her name is Wanda and she is an advocate. This is her website
I am certain she would love your support. Plus...she is just a wonderful friend.

I am so sorry Heather. I have heard that word so many times you would think I would be used to it...but it still hurts every time!

Just Another Ordinary Miracle said...

We are fighting this together. Stay above their stupidity. Because that is exactly what it is. Every so often I have friends who let it slip and then have a look that says they know what just happened and are regretful of it. It is much like racism of skin color, only our mentally retarded children and their peers are limited in their means to fight for themselves. If those same people used terms referring to people of various skin colors or religions - people would have stepped up and defended you - it is a long awaited battle - and it has to start some where.

Shannon said...

You absolutely did the right thing! I can't believe the responses you got from FAMILY! Wow. More Mom's should have your backbone!

Anna said...

Im so sorry.
It is a cruel world at times isnt it.

stephanie said...

Everything I want to say right now would be bleeped.
Love You!

Reagan Leigh said...

Ugh. Disgusting. It's ridiculous, especially coming from family. Makes me sick.

Dana Janowicz said...

Disturbing to say the least. Very proud of you for doing what is RIGHT.
Hugs to you and Miss Z,

Devon said...

I honestly, honestly, cannot get over the manifold ways in which stupidity can be manifest. I am so sorry you have to deal with this, Heather. And the fact it's family members who are completely insensitive to your point of view is just beyond the pale. I'm sorry, hon.

I love the new background, though, and the new picture of that sweet angel.

Proud Grandma said...

We are foster parents of a special needs teen - we have had him in our home for 12 years and it also sickens me to hear thr "R" word - every child is special and some face more challenges than others but under no circumstances should anyone use the "R" word when refering to them - good for you for having the courage to stand up to the people who made the remarks - the world would be a better place if there were more people like you and less of the others!!!!

Stephanie said...

Right on sister. Give 'em exactly what they deserve.. an education.

ABandCsMom said...

Oh my gosh. How awful. This has made me all teary eyed. How sad that "family" could speak/text that kind of talk to one another. Very sad. The nerve of them to unleash on you. That really burns me up. You did the right thing. You spoke up.

You know that saying, "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me". Well...I HATE that saying. Words do hurt. They can cut very deeply. Why is it,that some people just don't get that?

Samantha said...

I am mostly a reader, hardly ever post... but this one, THIS one has me fuming! How could "family" treat eachother that way! I am so sorry you have to deal with that... I really hope that this person who acted this way is of child years because besides being young and stupid there is absolutly no excuse for someone to be that hurtful and cruel. Actually, being young and stupid isn't one either... The one thing i learned about family is that sometimes you just have to step away... for your own sake. And that is okay.

Thank you for posting, it is always suprising to know that people can be so insensitive. But it needs to be known, you know...

Please give your little love a hug from on of her fans :)

Sewconsult said...

Ignorance is just that. I heard a comic on TV yesterday, use the term. I was shocked as I would have been if he had used the n word. I immediately changed the channel.

I am so sorry that your relatives are so ignorant. You would think that they would be the ones to learn as much as possible about how they could help you with Zoey. It is obvious that she is a beautiful & loving child. You have taught me so much!
Beckie in Brentwood, TN

Bri said...

You GO Heather! I'm SO happy. I'm behind you and I love that you stood up for Zoey. Some people's pride and ignorance blind them completely, as seen in whoever sent all those horrible messages.

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

Thank you Heather for continuing to speak up for ALL of our kids. I'm sorry that some people will NEVER see how hurtful it is, unfortunately. Makes me so mad. Don't let them get to you!

Anonymous said...

I am so so sorry that your family, the people who should be your refuge in a cruel world such as this one, betrayed you in such a way. You are strong person for standing up for your daughter, and others, the way you do. Kudos to you. And God bless.

Stephanie said...

Yes, you DID do the right thing. Nobody can address the issue if they are no called out. To those who believe this can be solved by ignoring it, grow up. In this country, we DO have freedom of speech, but it comes with the responsibility to use it wisely. When that doesn't happen and you get a mirror held up in front of you - you are looking at the only one to blame for your actions.

Heather - I would not hesitate to delete those people from your fb account, if you haven't already. I would also turn the messages over to the cops. There comes a point when jokes turn in to harrassment. You don't ever REALLY want to do things like that, but sometimes a lesson has to be learned the hard way.....that or publish all of those texts on fb for EVERYBODY to see what was said and by whom. See how proud they are of their actions then.

Ugh! I am going through something similar right now. Let you know how it turns out.


Claudia said...

I feel so sorry.

You know that I received very ugly comments as well which made me think about stopping to blog, but then I decided if I can give anyone some information, who just comes across, then it will be all worth it.

People do usually hide on the internet, like cowards they try to hurt others and think they can come along with in your case, it`s so called family, and I can`t find any words. What do those people think who they are....they are just evil.

The hubby always says "what goes around comes around" and I really hope so, in this matter.

Love to you.

3saints said...


ahhh I'm sitting here trying to control myself...makes me angry but also so sad for them that they can't see what they have done and are doing by treating you and your family like that. It seems so unreal that in this day we still run into people as ignorant as those "family" members you have.
Gosh, it doesn't seem enough to enough to say I'm sorry..but I am, your an amazing Mom to not only Zoey but all your sweet children...they are all lucky to have have taught them so much. It's so apparent in your blogs how amazing "your" family is.


The VW's said...

UNBELIEVABLE!!! I'm so sorry that you have to deal with this in your own family! This is sickening! Like you said, it's hard enough to accept this word and these actions from the world, let alone family!

Great job sticking up for our inspirational kiddos! And, great job just ignoring most of their replies! This makes you the bigger person! They are obviously miserable people to treat other humans this way!

Your family is amazing! Love Hugs and Prayers to all of you!!!

Shonda said...

O Heather, it makes me sad that you have to deal with stupidity within your own family. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You are doing the right thing. Lots of sweet thoughts to Miss Zoey. :) said...

Thank you for standing up for my child and all children .. you absolutely did the right thing..
My little 3 yr old boy has down syndrome and I will spend the rest of my life standing up right beside you for this "cause".

Lacey said...

Heather i'm so sorry you have to deal with this with family. I know we've talked about family before. I think I have a lot of friends that I consider family! And thats who I surround myself with. Love you dear!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is even lower than I thought even they could go. I could say I am shocked but then ... All I can say is that Zoey is so blessed to have the army she has surrounding her to keep people like this out of her life. It is really so sad that she should need to be protected from those that technically are her "family". It really redefines the word.

You plow on my dear friend. On this path, lead by your sweet baby girl. You are all headed in the right direction.
Much love and support,

Anonymous said...

Whoa!! - I was shockled to read your post Heather - so sorry these bleep, bleep statements came from your own family,,, Shame on them!!

Love & hugs

Aunt Bluebelle (Mark's aunt)

cheekyradish said...

Ignorance is such a menace. You do need to defend your child, at all cost. They are people you do not need in your world, I'm thinking. Family? It is such a shame we can not choose who we related to. Stay strong and know you are right.

Mo said...

So gross.

Kelsey said...

I just want to thank you so much for sharing your story and everything that you write with fellow readers. There are many people in the world that are too self-centered to realize the impact that others have on this world. Your courage is admirable, Zoey and all your other children are blessed to have such sweet and caring parents. A little side note, thank you for posting that video of Zoey signing the other day, I was in tears as it is clear to see the progress she has made over the last few months. What an inspiration you are to others. Thank you again.

stephanie said...

I came back in hopes that I could find something other than "bleeped" words to write.
The fact that a human being(an after reading your post I use the term very loosely) can behave worse than an animal leaves me speechless. The fact that the human being is family(another loose term) leaves me nauseated.
As everyone else I too am so sorry you again must deal with ignorance and stupidity and hatred.

May you be raised up by faith and love and support by your true friends, family and the people who love you and Zoey so very much(like all of us in blogland).
You're fighting the good fight my friend!

Googsmom said...

I love you Heather!! {{{{{HUGS}}}}

libby @ ninesandquines said...

heather, i am SO sorry that you have to endure this type of abuse, and from family members no less. it's sick, disgusting and gross. i, too, have family members that have no class and choose to say whatever they are thinking in their closed, ignorant minds.

i had a miscarriage last month at 7 weeks (i am 40, almost 41, it was our first pregnancy) and some of the things that a few family members actually said to my face would have made you sick.

that we have to deal with people like this baffles me. but i try to actually feel sorry for them and pray for them because they clearly do not have happiness in their lives. they need to belittle others to make themselves feel good. i also do not associate with them unless absolutely forced to (i.e. last month at Christmas....kind of hard to avoid - and these are immediate family members).

just continue doing what you are doing, being who you are, and don't let them bring you are an inspiration to so many of us....God bless you!

Tish said...

Keep being YOU, Heather. We will pray for your extended family, and hope that God will reach them and ultimately use them to create less pain and more positive energy in this world.

We love you! Big kisses to my Zoey's darling cheeks. :)

MoonNStarMommy said...

The fact that they use such an ugly word and attach it to any child who has fought so diligently for their life and everything they do is unfathomable to me. I hear my friends use that word towards their children in a joking matter, and I cringe. Some people just don't care about other's feelings, and the fact that it was a relative makes it even worse ... it just goes to show how ignorant and uneducated people truly are. You can have a doctorate for all I care, if you use that word or any other hurtful foul name like that, it shows you are uneducated. Good for you for standing your ground, for standing up for not only your child, but all of our children who fall under that "stipulation" ... I would, personally, be cutting those people out of my life.

It's like the DR who told me that my son wouldn't live, would be so mentally and physically delayed, it wouldn't be "worth it" ... only instead of "cutting him out" I kept taking my son back to PROVE HIM WRONG.

I'm a new reader btw :) I am going to steal the button off the blog that I followed it from and put it on mine.

Anonymous said...

I have been following your gorgeous blog for a while but have never commented.
I to have a beautiful daughter with Down Syndrome she also has Moyamoya which means that she has had 5 strokes :(.
She, like Zoe to you, is the light of our lives. I believe that these kids bring so much enrichment in to our lives. Some people are so ignorant they dont deserve our time or attention. It makes it that much harder when its family :(.
I cried when I read your post our kids have such a hard fight against those ignorant people like life wont be hard enough anyway :(.
Well done on speaking out that must of been a hard thing for you to do :)


Anonymous said...

My blood is boiling for you. I'm having passive agressive fantasies about what I'd do to someone who is so insensitive to you and your beautiful daughter.

You are loved,
Jenefer in San Jose

Sandy said...

You go Girl!

Kele said...

BIG frikin SIGH!!
Saddened to read this, can't fathom it really. Know I am thinking about you, actually emailed witchypoo account the other day in the hopes and off chance that it would get to you. None the less, thinking about you in this time of bewilderment, am going through the same here... being completley bewildered and devasted by the actions of people close to me, or people who WERE close to me, ugh!
Happy your on Pres' side! And your right, you can't fight ignorance and hatred, so walk on! Walk on to enjoy the many blessings of our life!

Tina said...

Just sickening, hard to believe and comprehend that such people really do exist, but they do unfortunately and we shall always come across them, and when it comes from family it's even more unforgivable.Just shows that education and has nothing to do with how learned and enlightened a person actually is, what you have in your heart is not something you can be taught, and cruel, insensitive people will always be there. I am so glad that you spoke up and didn't let them get away with it, it will always be a fight but we cannot stop advocating for our little ones, and noone should think they can get away with this just because our children cannot fight back.
What we need to know is that we are all doing everything in our power to fight this together, to make a difference, and even if it feels like a drop in the ocean, it's still one of many many drops to come.
I know I went through similar from certain family when Saira was born, in a more subtle way but it still boils down to the same thing in the end.
Heather I think you are a wonderful mother and an amazing human being, Zoey is a lucky little girl to have been born into your family. Don't let such ignorant, cruel, heartless people ever get to you, you have your calling in life unfortunately they don't have a calling, their lives will be empty, superficial and goalless, what can be worse!!

Rhea said...

I have been thinking about your post and realize that people who use that word have big issues in their lives. Frustrating would be the word and instead I will pray for your family and ask God to convict them of this wrong doing and apolize for hurting you, Zoey and others(including my sweet Anna) who they have offended. All I can say is that the Devil works in others to tear other people down. You are so right to express your thoughts and I am so happy to know your beautiful family through this wonderful little girl's blog!!!

Melissa said...

It's unbelieveable that family members could be so uneducated and rude, along with the general public. Let's face it, those of us who have children who are disabled or different will never be able to educate all the uneducated fools we come in contact with. Get your replies and lectures ready because you will need them as you go along, even if for no other reason then the great satisfaction of telling them off.

Bethany said...

I am a reader but I rarely comment because as a former special education teacher I don't always feel I have the right to step into the world of a family with a child who has special needs, where I refuse to even pretend to have any first hand knowledge. But as a teacher, I educated and loved and celebrated and mourned the loss of one and was changed by over 40 children who have cognitive disabilities. These are MY children, and I thank you for standing up for them as well as your most amazing and miraculous Zoey. Thank you for being the voice they do not have, thank you for taking the abuse in the hopes that one day none of our children will have to. The sad part is that this is willful ignorance, a choice to be ignorant in the face of knowledge. You can educate someone, but unfortunately you can not force them to learn. Your daughter is blessed to have you as her mother.

Peter Olson said...

Please don't do that again.
My first thought was "R" was for Relapse. You had me in tears before I could read the first sentence.

There have been ignorant people on this planet since the very beginning.
I have been ignorant too.
I have said ignorant things. I'm still learning.
You just have to realize that not everyone is knowledgeable about downs syndrome.
Keep informing them so they aren't ignorant anymore. With the same love you have for a person with downs, of-course.
A friend of mine said to me, "Maybe a person with downs is normal and we are the ones that aren't?"
Remember without "LOVE" we are just a clanging cymbal. (1Cor13:1)

Keep being yourself, we love you for that!

Anonymous said...

Well said Peter Olson

I am choosing now to revisit past couple of videos - especially the Jan 4th one with Zoey's signing (& your singing voice)... "stomp, "stomp, "hurray, dog, "pig" etc. .... LOVE THEM! I am still inspired each time I see them

Hugs to everyone

Bluebelle (Aunt)

Mama Mason-Mann said...

Scared me! I thought you meant relapse. Sorry you're having to deal with this. It's heartbreaking. Thanks for your post!

Christina Egner said...

Hi. This is Christina, Emily's mom.... who is classified medically as "retarded" as well.

I just wanna say........ You are an amazing woman for standing up for our children.

My name is Sarah said...

Oh Heather, My heart aches for your hurt. There are so many things that I would like to write but I must say I am a little fried right now. Because John and I have been embroiled in a hatred controversy with his family too(I blogged about it a little bit back in August) that has just escalated to being so hurtful. We finally sat down tonight and wrote an email to send to his three sisters and his mother and told them we can no longer allow them to be a part of our lives. There comes a point when you have to say enough is enough. In some regards it felt like a weight had been finally lifted off my shoulders but at the same time it is heart breaking. I just do not understand how family can be so hurtful especially when it involves our precious girls. Good for the both of us for standing up for the beauty that has been entrusted to our care. I just pray long term that others will learn from it. Hugs to you.

Knitty said...

Oh my, what is wrong with people?!!

I think I could excuse a lapse in judgment when some slips and uses a word that was once common vernacular, but not the responses you later received. When I refer to a lapse or slip, I am thinking of people who use a word with absolutely no harm intended. I grew up with the word "oriental" being an accepted adjective to use with people of Asian heritage. When my son was a teenager, he corrected me on this usage and I haven't used it since.

Hopefully a seed was planted that will eventually germinate in understanding with your family members. Their responses, while inappropriate, may have been about their own embarrassment and inability to apologize. As for the strangers, we can only hope Karma dumps on them, literally, while they sit around slack jawed, too ignorant to realize what is coming at them.

Peter Olson said...

"Over-booked"? No, I think you have much more love in your heart to go around than you think. Your regular blog readers, like me, can sense that too.
You have been a blessing to many, many people.
I thank you for sharing your life's story with us and for introducing us to Zoey.
Keep up the great job!
May God Richly Bless You and Your Whole Family. Thank you so very much again for letting me be a part of it.

scrappy quilter said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through this, especially with family. Never stop fighting for your little one and all the other ones who have disabilities. It is a cruel world out there and we need to change it. You'd think we were still in the 1800's by the way some people speak. Hugs

Anonymous said...

Okay okay, so i know you said the topic was closed, but i only catch up with the blogs but so often, and i am compelled to comment, like a few others, for the first time since beginning to read about your amazing journey.
I happily teach kiddos as beautiful and brave as yours (in fact it sounds like your Z would fit right in with my M, C, T, J, and E :) and I spend as much time educating the rest of the world (school, children and adults, community) as i do educating my class of kiddos.
As far as family goes, "home is where they love you", and family does not have to be related by blood. I hope you keep close what heals and helps and loves you and push away the things that will only bring you down. Gotta do what you gotta do.
Anyway, I wanted to drop a line of respect and hello and to tell you to that we're marching together on this one.
One more quote- "there are two kinds of people in this world, those that think that people can be subdivided into as few as two groups, and those of us that know better".
:) smiles and love to you and yours, and a blown kiss to little Z
-L from Virginia

blogzilly said...

I'm a bit late to the party, so I can't say much that hasn't already be said. Sorry that all exploded on a public space...very ugly indeed.

Anonymous said...

There is this saying: God gave us friends..... as an apology for relatives.
I'm so sorry for you that it runs true for you. But then on the other hand there are so many that will classify as friends here.

Kelley said...

Way to go! I'm sad for your family and all others that are so uneducated. If they could only "get" the true beauty of these human beings...