Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

On Community, Self Acceptance, and Having a Village

At one point in my life, being accepted was everything. In the 80’s, I permed my hair, wore fluorescent orange sweaters and pink Reeboks, blue eyeshadow, and a crappy attitude because that’s what was celebrated and included. None of those things made me especially popular, but I lived the norm and nobody in my high school called me weird. In college and after, they didn’t, either. At least, to my face.

1980 girl cartoon with 501s and leather jacket

When I was younger, I wanted to fit in. I still do.

It wouldn’t be authentic of me to say that I don’t continue to crave acceptance and inclusion.

I do.

I’m pretty sure that we all do. Owning a sense of community and belonging is vital to personal growth, to expanding our world views, and to finding empathy and wonder for situations that we would not come across on our own.

Having a village helps us to realize that we’re not alone despite age, economics, skin color, and sexual orientation. Having a village matters. It matters a lot.

When I started down the road of accepting that I’m the mom to a boy who has special needs, I felt really alone. Dark, scary, nobody-knows-what-I’m-going-through alone. It was frightening and isolating. Friends told me that my little boy would catch up. That he’d start talking any day. That maybe I’d contributed to his delays and that he wasn’t speaking because he didn’t need to. That I always knew what he wanted, and so he didn’t have to ask for it.

I wanted to believe them, and I did, for a while. Still though, words like autism and developmental delays circled my thoughts and my breaths and my everyday moments.

My son Tucker has come a long, long way over the past three years. Now, I’m no longer sure that autism is the word that fits him best, although it’s close and I find community there. I’ve found the village. I found it through his Preschool Autism Classroom (PAC) and I found it online – because of you guys. (thank you)

This journey of ours continues and will, for the rest of time. The fact that people along the way have not only embraced us and accepted us but said “me too!” has been monumental in my own acceptance. In realizing that I wouldn’t simply wake one morning to a little boy who is like his peers.

Through this village, I’ve also further embraced that my little boy is totally awesome, just as he is. I mean, I’ve known that he’s amazing all along, but it’s helped to find people who do not tell me that he’s too old to wear pull-ups at night, or that he’s too old to drink milk from a bottle.

I’ve also realized that sometimes, those people are right. He is too old to be hoisting a pull-up on each night. But it also doesn’t matter.

I think that the difference is that when typical children are deemed too old to wear a pull-up, the parents suffer through a few weeks of a wet bed and then it’s mostly done (I do not know this for a fact). With us though, while we’ve all decided that Tucker’s too old for a pull-up, changing that behavior is long. It’s a pain in the ass. It’s months and months of reinforcing the getting up to pee even when it’s “not an emergency.” It’s months and months and maybe a year of wet sheets and sleepless nights. It’s just plain harder.

(is there a point to this? yes!)

While I adore my village, I want to say that sometimes, I don’t care what you think. Or, maybe a better way to phrase that is that I care what you think, because I always care, but I don’t necessarily think that whatever you think pertains to us and our life, lived here fairly privately even when it feels like it’s all online.

I used to love acceptance. Today, I no longer feel like we should live our lives in order to please anybody but ourselves and the greater good.

Living life for the greater good - Finding Ninee

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This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Today’s sentence that I REALLY struggled with (obviously) was “Something that I used to love and now hate is…”
Your hosts:
Me: Kristi from Finding Ninee
Co-hosts:
Allie (this week’s sentence thinker upper) of The Latchkey Mom and Kelly of Just TypiKel. Want more info or want to join? Become a part of our Facebook group!

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  • Nicki - It’s a relief, isn’t it, to be in this place of self-awareness and a confidence that we know and believe that what we’re doing for ourselves and our families IS the right thing, no matter what others may think? I love everything you say here, but especially this: “I used to love acceptance. Today, I no longer feel like we should live our lives in order to please anybody but ourselves and the greater good.” <3May 1, 2015 – 1:25 amReplyCancel

  • Kelly McKenzie - Looking back over the years, do you feel stronger now more than ever before? I suspect you do. And you should. I’ve finally realized that looking to please everybody all of the time is just plain silly. Here’s to living our lives for the common good. And for ourselves.May 1, 2015 – 2:16 amReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - I totally wanted to fit in back in the day, but now I have to admit that I just don’t really care. I think that may be something that just comes with age (at least that is what I think).May 1, 2015 – 2:27 amReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - Kristi: I don’t see signs that you struggled with today’s prompt. I really liked where you went with the post, as you spoke to something pretty fundamental in growing up and learning about oneself. I’m happy to be part of your community, whether you are living that moment privately with your family or on the interwebs with us. Peace be with you.May 1, 2015 – 2:52 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Wow, last time I looked you had 52 minutes and you didn’t have anything. I think the best truth comes out when you don’t have time to worry about what others are going to think about what you’ve written. Online is a scary place when you share something simple or pour your heart out. People just let stupid roll off their tongue and let it hang there. Everybody’s way of life is their own, no one size fits all. I’m sure you feel better for writing this out loud. 😉May 1, 2015 – 6:21 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ugh I still feel like I didn’t have anything but thank you!! I love “people just let stupid roll off their tongue” – so so so true!!! Thanks, Kenya. You rock.May 2, 2015 – 12:28 amReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - I have ten years to get to this stage. It’s okay. I’m allowed to still crave acceptance and inclusion and belonging and not upsetting the applecart and just being liked and joining in…for now. Right?

    That said, I DO think you’re right. And good for you for owning it and saying it. The more people who say it, the more confident others can feel about not always needing to be ‘in line’.May 1, 2015 – 6:30 amReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - Preach it, Mama.

    Once we get to that point (of not caring what others think)….We are LIBERATED!

    Love from MN. xxxMay 1, 2015 – 7:56 amReplyCancel

  • Aliie - I’m so sorry your struggled with the prompt, so did I. I love the 23 year old you – so chick:)!. I love your village and I love the fact that you don’t care what I have to say – seriously. This may sound weird, but I was almost going to go there with my love/hate thing, but ending up on road trip…ugh!May 1, 2015 – 8:08 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Nah, Allie! I struggled with it because of my week, not because of the prompt. Please know that. I can usually think of something no matter what the prompt. I mean, I wrote a tribute to my dog for something like “So cool” a couple years ago. It’s more that I just was floundering this week. And isn’t floundering a weird word? Is it because of the fish??? I loved yours so stop!May 2, 2015 – 12:32 amReplyCancel

  • christine - There is no such thing as too old for a pull up at night. Some kids just have a hard time with it for a variety of reasons. (I know kids who wore them til they were 10.) Oh, and a child who drank milk from a bottle til she was 8. Just sayin. 🙂

    We all want and need a village. We just don’t need that village to include everyone in the world. It’s an awesome feeling when you realize that being like everyone isn’t necessary in the least.May 1, 2015 – 9:42 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Christine, you are plain old awesome. Seriously – thank you. I love that your encouragement and reassurance. So much. Thank you.May 2, 2015 – 8:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerri - As one of the very first readers of your journey I can say that I have been witness to that growth you are writing about. From wanting to be accepted, to wanting to accept my future son in law as he is (yourself and the world), to learning on what advice to take, what advice to throw away and what advice to say yes that makes sense but um…we are doing something different.

    You, my friend are incredible and I am glad to have known you all this time.May 1, 2015 – 10:44 amReplyCancel

  • April G - I’m sure he wouldn’t want me to reveal this, but my son still wets the bed. I can’t get up with a third child at night and his father was a late bed wetter too… so it slides, for now.May 1, 2015 – 1:07 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - April, I’m so glad that you wrote it. Thank you. Seriously, knowing that others are in the same boat makes it feel so much better.May 2, 2015 – 8:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Kim - Good for you for not letting anyone convince you to do something that you and Tucker aren’t ready to do.
    My youngest son slept in a pull-up until he was 5 because he slept so soundly he couldn’t get up at night. Even after giving up the pull-up he still had accidents about 1-2x a week for awhile. I did find that layering 2 sets of sheets with a waterproof mattress pad between them helped at night – I could have the wet stuff stripped off by the time he was cleaned up:)
    He also sucked his thumb at night until he was 8 – the only reason he stopped is because he had to wear a retainer at night for a summer and that made it too hard to suck his thumb – I’m happy to say that at 14 his thumb that used to be half the size of the other is full size!!!May 1, 2015 – 1:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - LOL to his thumb being full size now! I sucked my thumb pretty late too and remember making myself stop because I was going to a sleep over and didn’t want to be embarrassed!May 2, 2015 – 8:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - “Now, I’m no longer sure that autism is the word that fits him best, although it’s close and I find community there.”

    Yes, me, too! As you know. Glad you and Robert and Tucker are in our village. Glad potty training took forever with someone else’s kid, too.May 1, 2015 – 2:34 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - I think you are right about both – deep down we do all want to fit in and be accepted (Pretty sure that’s why I have such an issue with body image), BUT at the same time it doesn’t matter what others think and we shouldn’t spend our lives trying to please everyone else. I need to remember that.May 1, 2015 – 5:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think it’s hard to not worry about what other people think and sometimes, it can be motivating (the best shape I was in ever has been when I’m in a new relationship and so motivated to exercise). Gah. But yeah, what other people thinks doesn’t always matter.May 2, 2015 – 8:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Deb - So interesting. I think I somehow walk the line between wanting to fit in but also wanting to go against the grain all the time. Whenever something I’m into becomes super mainstream, I find it less compelling. (This could explain my persistent ambivalence about blogging.) Anyway, you are so clearly an amazing mom to your little boy; it is harder for you than for those with “typical” kids, and I’m sorry about that. I’m glad you are starting to care less about what other people think.

    Ps: Perm, blue eyeshadow, leather jacket, crappy attitude, flip bangs: check check check check check. Also, H can sleep in a freaking diaper until he gets married for all I care. As long as he is trained during the day. 😉May 1, 2015 – 6:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I love your “so interesting” comment because this was another last minute thing and you are the real writer and I thank you for getting it and all of that. Also yes to the blue eyeshadow. I kinda miss it.Definitely the crappy attitude.May 2, 2015 – 10:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Rabia Lieber - There are good reasons to listen to what others have to say, but there are also a lot of good reasons to ignore that input as well. It looks like you’ve found the perfect balance that works for you!May 1, 2015 – 7:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Sass Organ - This acceptance-belonging-independence thing has been a constant, lifelong struggle for me. Still working on it. Feedback is helpful, but I guess sometimes you just have to walk your own path.May 2, 2015 – 1:03 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - Humans are social creatures – it is in our nature to desire acceptance and inclusion. Even when we say we want to do it our way. And that comes the part that is so very human, the part that has no choice but to be true to our Self.
    As for the 80s…acid wash jeans and that very particular cut of oversized sweater. Jeans jacket. The hair…oh the hair. One of these days I’m going to share a picture of my 80s hair. If I had purchased stock in Rave hairspray I’d be a wealthy woman today based on my consumption alone.May 2, 2015 – 2:57 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - PLEASE share a photo of your 80’s hair soon? I miss jean jackets and acid wash and big bangs. Life was simpler then but also I’m so glad that Tucker will never have the Duran hair..May 2, 2015 – 10:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - I love how you always end your posts with a line, phrase, thought that is impacting and though-provoking. Living for the greater good is uplifting and inspiring on this Sat. morning. Thank you!May 2, 2015 – 12:34 pmReplyCancel

  • Beth Siebert - I struggle with the biochemical component of my son’s rare (2 diseases). One if Landau Kleffner Syndrome (LKS) which only 201 people have been diagnosed with internally since the 1950(s) and his mitochondrial cytopathy.

    When I sit with other people it is hard for me to have regular conversations not about biochemistry therefore I can’t fit in and be the parent my son needs,May 3, 2015 – 1:24 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Here’s to say forget fitting in and being the parent Alex needs!!May 3, 2015 – 11:36 amReplyCancel

      • Beth Siebert - Thanks for having a generous and big loving heart to accept us as we are! We adore you Kristi!May 3, 2015 – 11:42 amReplyCancel

  • Sandy - Wow! Wonderfully written and perfectly said. It is fantastic to have supportive people around us but you’re right. While support and acceptance and a feeling of not being alone is fantastic, advice should only be meant as suggestive. I know I have a hard time with that sometimes but not as much anymore. You have to be true to you and your family. You have to do what works for you. I’d support you no matter what…but you already know that.May 3, 2015 – 9:19 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I do already know that, Sandy. And I love you for it. Thank you. Also I love you for other reasons too. Just saying.May 3, 2015 – 12:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I can dig that for sure. I mean, I’m from New Jersey. Girls there do hair and makeup just to get gas.. that they don’t even pump themselves!
    I’ve found that I’m less awkward going my own way. Of course I still care, but not as much.May 3, 2015 – 9:47 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I was in NJ a couple weeks ago. Have to say wow and that the one I was in contact with looked plastic. You look gorgeous.May 4, 2015 – 11:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa Moskowitz Sadikman - Oh how we all do desire and need acceptance! And there are those villages out there for us, but you do come to that point where the intense beauty and happiness is in the small intimate circle of you and yours and however you’re “doing” life is just right for you. A very good friend of mine once told me “What everybody thinks of you is none of your business.” It’s how we value the way we think about ourselves and our decisions that matters. I’m happy to see you’re where you want — and need to be. xxMay 3, 2015 – 10:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Sakshi - That one phone call from you has changed our lives. The twins were always happy kids, but after talking to you, I am back to being a happy mom. 🙂May 4, 2015 – 4:30 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Wow, Sakshi, thank you and I’m so so SO glad to read that you feel less alone. Please feel free to call me anytime!!!May 4, 2015 – 11:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Lauren Jessica White - I completely agree that parenting- especially when your children have needs that fall outside the norm- is the best cure for caring what people think about you. Your post is a good reminder of the different parenting paths people face and what NOT to say to other parents!May 7, 2015 – 4:06 amReplyCancel

  • Emily Nichols Grossi - This is wonderful, Kristi!! I love your illustrations (in general, but the flip bangs here are fantastic; I had them too!) and your authenticity! Bravo!May 25, 2015 – 5:52 pmReplyCancel

  • Thomas Freeman - Hi,

    Please could you send over your advertising rates? My client is interested in links, blog posts, banners and social media promotion. Thank you for your time.

    ThomasJune 2, 2015 – 7:10 pmReplyCancel

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