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

I’m Brave. Wait. I’m a Coward. Or Both.

I don’t consider myself as being particularly wimpy. I am the eight-year-old who slept on a board placed on her bedroom floor for six weeks after taking a dare from her brother to jump off a six-foot retainer wall at the elementary school that left me unable to walk home.

During the 80’s and 90’s, I may have looked almost cool for a few hours here and there, decked out in gelled bangs and bright-blue eye shadow, a heavily-buckled leather jacket, cheap jewelry, an awesome attitude, and a “Hellz to the no, I won’t sleep with Billy Idol, thank you very much” thaang going on.

I was cool in the 80

Since then, I’ve been skydiving and scuba diving.

I’ve braved new relationships and even more bravely braved some of their endings.

I withstood an incompetent cervix, advanced maternal age, and survived falling in the biggest love of all – the love felt for a tiny human who is both me and completely himself.

I was courageous in embracing his newborn head and sleepless nights and nap-filled days. I now encourage him to be and to become himself with and without me.

I have faced evaluations and diagnosis-less visits. I didn’t fall to my knees the first time that the word “autism” was mentioned. At the time, that felt miraculous and necessary.

But really, when I think back on all of that, it’s not like I was brave, exactly. It’s not like I’m brave now.

I’m not brave when I imagine the future.

I know that I cannot control the outcome of my stepdaughter’s possible pregnancy or what she’s going to do with this troubled life of hers today or for the rest of forever.

I know that I cannot control how children on the playground will react when my son approaches them exploding with excitement about his Lego advent calendar. I can’t control what happens when they have no idea what he’s trying to say because the word “calendar” is hard for a lot of people to pronounce but is especially hard for him.

I am merely myself while looking up at the winter’s dark sky, making wishes on stars and on beliefs.

I worry about my little boy being in this world without me.

I am brave in talking about Tucker, knowing that the words “developmental delays” and “autism” have 1,001 faces and that when people who do not know him picture him, they will picture him wrongly because it’s impossible to put a mental image on the face of any child, and that those with special needs come with their own assumed attributes.

Maybe we all have 1,001 faces.

I do. I am warrior mama and special needs advocate. I am also the mom who wishes she had more neighborhood friends. I’m a mom who wishes I knew more about my son’s brain while also knowing that knowing would likely not change his therapies or schooling.

I know for sure that it would not change how I see him.

I see him as merely and all the way mine and himself. I see him as amazing. I see him as changing my world. I see him as brave and powerful and I know with all that I am that whatever it is that he does in this life, that he will do so in a way that is unexpected in all of the best ways.

I have the courage to imagine his greatness.

I have the courage to imagine my own.

I have the courage to imagine greatness

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday Post, where writers come together and post endings to the current sentence. This week’s is “I’ve never had the courage to…”


Me Finding Ninee
Tarana at Sand in My Toes (and our sentence thinker upper) and
Vidya from Vidya Sury

  • zoe - Heroism and bravery are really all about the circumstances we find ourselves having to adapt to aren’t they? Either way… yours and Tucker’s willingness to adapt to whatever you all deal with has made ya all brave… just face it your brave, sister!December 11, 2014 – 10:18 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I edited the shit out of it since you commented because I wrote it from my phone laying in bed with T man but THANK YOU and yes. We just have to adapt.December 13, 2014 – 1:19 amReplyCancel

  • Emily - Yes I agree – we are all brave and wimpy at the same time. Sometimes I’m brave and other times, total wimpy wimp. And when it comes to our kids, on the one hand we have to be so very brave no matter what but on the other hand, we can also be so afraid. As you know, I can relate to your feelings so well, with ALL of my kids.December 11, 2014 – 10:18 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’m totally wimpy – and was when it came to this post that I redid today a bunch of times because I tried to write it on my phone (damn the deadlines)… and thank you so much Emily. I know you can relate and I’m so lucky to have you as a friend.December 13, 2014 – 1:21 amReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - I wouldn’t worry too much about labels or assumptions that people make. Tucker will grow to be all that he can be, because he has loving parents and a fundamentally positive outlook on life. And your stepdaughter. Well, that’s a tougher one. She’s old enough to make her own choices, including the really horrible dumb ones. I think that you can resolve to do the best that you can. It will have to be good enough.

    I don’t think that you need to be concerned about being brave or a wimp. As you say, we are both. And that is okay.December 11, 2014 – 10:19 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Anna!! I am trying to not worry about the labels so much… but sometimes it’s hard because so many other people need a label to define him if that makes sense… thanks so much and you rock as always.December 13, 2014 – 1:28 amReplyCancel

  • Dana - I am brave and wimpy too, Kristi – I think we all are. Being a mom makes us unbelievably courageous and incredibly terrified. I know the uncertainty about Tucker’s undiagnosis amplifies the brave and wimpy, but I think you are doing pretty awesome.December 11, 2014 – 10:54 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks Dana!! I think you’re doing pretty awesome too. I guess we’re all doing enough…December 13, 2014 – 1:29 amReplyCancel

  • Kelly L McKenzie - Some days I feel strong enough to take on anything and other days I can’t even face a dog walk. However, I take great comfort in knowing that I’m not alone. Most folks are like this I find when I get to know them. My motto is to “take it one day at a time.” Now if I’d only remember to practice it …December 11, 2014 – 11:26 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kelly,
      You saying that some days you can’t face a dog walk is SO SO COMFORTING – thank you!!! I miss my dog so much and want to get another but I also remember that there were mornings and nights when I just didn’t want to go and didn’t enjoy it and couldn’t face it… You’re not alone. Which means I’m not either.December 13, 2014 – 1:31 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - Brave is what you call it when the proverbial shit hits the fan and you stand there and let it fly in your face anyway. I think. Sometimes you just want to run away from it screaming “eew eew eew” though, right? And it’s not necessarily a wrong choice, either.
    I think this may be my favorite thing of yours – which I’ve probably said before – but it’s all so true. I like knowing that you’re the same as me – that many of us are the same. No matter what our thing is in life, we all feel like we could conquer anything some days and really just wish someone else could do it on others. Normal. Human. Reality.
    Meanwhile, I can’t tell you how I laughed at “advanced maternal age” because I found it the most hilarious thing about my pregnancy. I mean, OK, I guess I was but did they really need to put the big freaking orange sticker on my file??? Honestly. Like how my body felt for nine months wasn’t kind of a clue…December 11, 2014 – 11:40 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think you’re right. And I love your explanation that standing there while it flies in your face anyway. Because YES. That. And OMG I so so so love that your stupid orange stamp was the same as mine because yes – really??? I mean REALLY??? To AMA!!?!?December 13, 2014 – 11:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Linda Atwell - Now your site is working again! Huge bummer. I left a very creative message and now it is gone. Let me try to recreate…
    I am a coward and I am brave too. I am 1001 different things. You always write stuff that makes me think, makes me relate to you in such an incredible way. I was at a writers workshop and the host asked us to tell them about ourselves and of course I started off that I’m a wife and mother…but I really don’t let just those two things define me. I’m a writer, an entrepreneur, an insurance adjuster, a gardner, a traveler (and I’m happiest when I’m on the road)…. anyway, I don’t want to be defined in one specific way. I shared a post today about a grown woman who did want to be identified in a certain way (not that she ONLY wanted to be identified in one specific way) but I could relate. Special needs, developmentally delayed, etc., are one part of her, but not all of her. Anyway, I digress in this response in a way that I didn’t digress during my first response (an excellent one I might add that will not be so excellent this second time around).

    I too am incredibly dumb and shockingly smart. The older I get, the less I realize I know. So when I’m shockingly smart–I LOVE IT! Anyway, your post is excellent and I love reading everything you write.

    p.s. hope things are better with your stepdaughter. I don’t expect a response here. And as far as a Lindsey update: she is doing better every single day. Not great yet, but moving toward great. Happy holidays to you and your adorable family.December 11, 2014 – 11:54 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - So sorry it wasn’t… maybe, it wasn’t working because I was typing this post from my phone while lying in bed with Tucker waiting for him to sleep knowing the deadline was coming and hating the post but then finding a way to edit it that was okay enough? Because sometimes good enough is right?? ?
      And thank you Linda. I adore your words so much, here, and at your place. And well to the stupid step daughter… we don’t know anything new except for that Tucker absorbs more than we think because yesterday, my husband and I were talking thinking that Tucker was drinking his “ba” (and yes he’s five and whatever) and all of a sudden he said “Cameron is my stupid sister???” Holy crap. I guess it’s time to watch what we say…
      I’m so glad too to know Lindsey is doing better every day… and huge big Happy Holidays to you and yours!! xoxoxoDecember 13, 2014 – 11:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Mike - Kristi, as you know I see you as a hero always…neither brave nor wimpy but a constant of goodness every day. I know you may not feel like that but we are always our own worst enemy. Cliché, yes…but true. Shall we use the word brave then I see you have already and will continue to climb life’s biggest mountains. You will stand in front of the fastest, most intimidating oncoming trains of this ether we all share. There will be days where you hang on to a branch by one arm in the fiercest of rapid rivers. Yet, you will always survive and you will always be my hero. Apprehension or trepidation or a bit uneasy you might also find yourself at times. Wimpy never…in my book. xoxo, Mike 🙂December 12, 2014 – 12:21 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - How awesome is your comment Mike? It’s awesome times a kajillion. Thank you. Yes to holding onto the branch and yes, to holding it out for our friends. xxoo huge right back and for real, thank you!December 13, 2014 – 11:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Nicki - I love this post so much Kristi. So true. So honest. Life and parenthood make us want to run and hide, and also scream F*ck yeah I can do this because I’m AWESOME! And you are. Thank you for telling it like it is. xxDecember 12, 2014 – 12:57 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw Nix, you’re the bestest. I hated this post because I wrote it in 20 minutes on my phone but now I think it’s almost okay after editing and that you saw its potential is HUGE to me so thank you so so much!! You are AWESOME. xxooDecember 14, 2014 – 12:00 amReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - You are right no matter how brave I am still a wimp myself at times, but then again you are right we all are just a bit.December 12, 2014 – 3:09 amReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - Woh! I am the first one!

    Kristi, times always test a person, cause one thing is for sure…time will not be constant and this time will leave you more experienced and definitely not a coward!

    I can feel your compassion when it comes to allowing Tucker all by himself venturing into the playground etc.

    I pray the universal energy guide you in this journey. hugs xoxoDecember 12, 2014 – 3:13 amReplyCancel

  • April - Sometimes just living life is courageous enough. I remember when people asked how I finished law school while single and pregnant and I didn’t really have an answer. I wasn’t sure if I should’ve made the decision to just drop out of the world or what? What was my option? Get a job? It would be just as much work, and would be no good with the mounting law school debt and no degree. Bravery doesn’t mean that you have to be spokesperson everywhere you go. BDecember 12, 2014 – 6:07 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - April,
      I will not say “I can’t imagine” to finishing law school while single and pregnant because it drives me nuts when people tell me that they can’t imagine how I do it… but I will say that you did good… and that it’d have been easier to have crawled under the covers. I know what you mean though and yeah, bravery doesn’t mean we have to be the spokesperson. Thank you for that reminder.December 14, 2014 – 12:12 amReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - Guess at least I don’t have to put up with blonde jokes. There are other things though, and I think you’re right – assumptions based on…what? popular myth and label-based determination…are always sucky. BUT, 10001 faces or not, they seem all pretty well set on making the world into a better, kinder place for Tucker. So there’s that.December 12, 2014 – 6:58 amReplyCancel

  • Tarana Khan - When it comes to any challenge my son has to face (now or in future), I am a wimp too. Can we help it if we worry ourselves silly about our little angels?December 12, 2014 – 9:50 amReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - It has been my observation that your bravery is a bigger part of you than any fears.December 12, 2014 – 9:54 amReplyCancel

  • Karen Indiviglio Canino - man, you always make me cry woman. I think you captured it perfectly…we all have our brave moments and moments when we are feeling cowardice…but still carry on. I know Tucker couldn;t have had a better mom and supporter.December 12, 2014 – 10:12 amReplyCancel

  • Allie Smith - I know I’m wimpy, especially about scary and violent things (I cannot listen to stories about medical procedures ever- or watch violent movies!). But overall, I think I have a courage that is borderline delusional. Gets me into trouble sometimes;). I thinks its because as a teen I was scared of everything. One day I decided, enough was enough. It was time to kick a little a**.December 12, 2014 – 2:16 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - UGH to the ugly medical stuff – I’m a total wimp about that too unless it’s happening to me or a loved one and by a loved one mostly I mean a REALLY close loved one… here’s to kicking a little ass.December 14, 2014 – 12:15 amReplyCancel

  • Mrs. AOK - I don’t think you’re wimpy. I think you’re a Mom with a big heart, worry, in some freakish way, is love… no? I’ve written a few posts on worry and anxiousness, and what I have gathered, I’m not alone, many of us worry about the what if. It’s somewhat instinctual, well I believe.
    Anyway, you shouldn’t sale yourself short, you’re doing everything you can, and doing it with love. I think it’s quite commendable to share your story, because you never know who you’re helping.
    XOXODecember 13, 2014 – 9:21 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Mrs. AOK… yes, you’re right.. in many ways, love IS the freakish and worry… and thank you so much… I think sharing our stories is all of the everythings really. Even when it’s hard.December 14, 2014 – 12:16 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I love the last line. I’d like to believe I have the courage to imagine my own.
    I always see my kids as so much braver than I am. And then I wonder if I used to be more like them, and it’s slowly disintegrating.
    Or maybe I used to be afraid, and it’s slowly building back up.December 13, 2014 – 11:45 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Let’s imagine our own and let’s imagine for our kids. They have so much more already than we even know… in all of the ways. Let’s say fuck being afraid, okay?December 14, 2014 – 12:17 amReplyCancel

  • Kim - I think you are incredibly brave!!!
    And, for the record, I would love to see Tucker’s Lego advent calendar!!!December 14, 2014 – 10:35 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ok I will show his cool Lego advent calendar in tonight’s post! Thanks for letting me know you’d like to see it and also? I think YOU are brave 🙂December 14, 2014 – 10:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Seana Turner - It isn’t to face the uncertainties of life. Especially when we anticipate painful moments for ones we love. I’ve had my own share of struggles in this area. Fortunately, times always get better, something surprising happens, and a new season begins. In the meantime, isn’t it nice to draw courage from our friends (blogging and otherwise!), family, and God? Sending you warm thoughts:)December 14, 2014 – 5:06 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Seana, yes, you’re so right that we do draw so much encouragement from friends (online and offline), family and God. So much. The painful moments are hard but yes, we do get through almost mostly always stronger… thank you!December 14, 2014 – 10:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Sandy Ramsey - I think being a mother has made me a wimp. I can look back at some of the crazy things I did years ago with barely a care about consequences and would never in a million years think about doing them today. It’s my kids. I just don’t take chances anymore..because, like you, I’m afraid of their being here without me. On the other hand, it’s made me the fiercest of warriors in matters that I would never have guessed would make a difference. Life is crazy. That’s what it is.December 14, 2014 – 5:33 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ok so I saw that you’re focusing on other things but did you delete your blog???? I just tried to go and got an error (I’ve had errors this weekend so am not sure what that means) but yeah, being a mom made me a wimp too!! I used to do SO much and now? I can’t risk it because my baby boy needs me more than he needs anybody else (or so it feels and I try to not jynx myself by saying that but yes)… here’s to being warriors!!December 14, 2014 – 10:42 pmReplyCancel

      • Sandy Ramsey - I did pull it down. A lot of people asked me why I didn’t leave it up but it wasn’t free space. I’ll start another after the beginning of the new year. I just thought it was time to do something different. I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning and wanted to change so much it was just easier to start from scratch. Most people think that makes me crazy but I’m still here…it’s just my first blog that’s gone. I intend to hang around with the great people I’ve gotten to know for a long time! So you’re not quite rid of me yet!December 15, 2014 – 6:30 amReplyCancel

        • Kristi Campbell - Wow. I think it’s awesome that you just did it. Pulled it down. I pay for this space as well but would be way too chicken to just pull it all down (funny that I say that in a post about courage). I so look forward to what your next adventure is!!!December 16, 2014 – 7:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa Moskowitz Sadikman - I look at you Kristi and I see brave all over the place, but for you, it’s your beautiful life, your everyday and any day. My favorite bit here is about when you learned about Tucker’s autism and it was “miraculous and necessary.” That is YOUR brave: seeing the miracles and helping us see them too. xxDecember 14, 2014 – 6:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - Wow. Once again WOW. So profound and as always so relatable. You’ve perfectly put it. I agree that we all have 1001 faces. This is why most of us are good and bad and brave and not so brave at the same time. And oh my god, yes, it takes courage to imagine greatness. To allow yourself. It is so much easier to duck behind fear. I love how you think, and live and write and I’m proud to be your friend. I can totally see that eight-year-old girl in you. 🙂

    xoxoDecember 14, 2014 – 8:44 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw Katia! Thank you thank you friend. I’m proud to be YOUR friend and everything – all the words – right back at you!!December 16, 2014 – 7:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Asd-Dr - Thanks for sharing – Your comment about worrying about the future really hit home for me. Bravery doesn’t mean not being afraid, bravery means doing what needs to be done anyway.December 15, 2014 – 5:43 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - YES!!! We ALL need to have that kind of courage! Because really? There is greatness in us all to be imagined. I hate that some limit themselves in fear…

    Oh wait. I have done that too many times to count!

    BUT- what has come toward me, I have battled with the courage needed. As have you, my friend.

    And we continue to build amazing strength to take the next bold step into the unknown. You, me, and ours and them.December 15, 2014 – 6:16 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Here’s to us taking the next steps into the unknown and the scary and facing it with bravery Chris!! (and it seems to me that you are doing JUST that right now, waking from your surgery!! Hope you’re okay!). xxooDecember 16, 2014 – 8:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Brittnei - Loved reading this! I didn’t write something this week, but I do believe you explained this so perfectly! You are brave. Well, at least I think you are, for whatever that is worth. I see a woman who is fierce in her ability to explain the complexities of this life in a way that can relate to so many in the world. 🙂December 16, 2014 – 12:44 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw Brittnei! Your words mean so so much to me – thank you! I see you as brave, too! Standing by your beliefs and learning so much from life is the brave path and you are so on it!!! <3December 16, 2014 – 8:04 pmReplyCancel

  • BritishMumUSA - As I said before you are an amazing mum, and a BRAVE woman!!!! We can chat when ever privately, you have my contact info…. The school that both my children attend, middle and high school have an inclusive program so children with a LD are included. What my children have learned growing up with LD children is that in the end we are all human and deserve the same respect. They hold each other up and bring each other up. It is beautiful to watch. My daughters have gone to bat for them too… Your son will develop awesome friendships and go a long way!!! Your daughter will make the right choices…. 🙂 Sending hugs and love!!!!December 16, 2014 – 1:53 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thanks, Ray! You are too!!! YAY for your kids learning respect for everybody – I love that they have inclusion programs. So so important. Thanks for the hugs and love, sweet one! I very much appreciate them and your awesome friendship!December 16, 2014 – 8:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Angel the Alien - Tucker is growing up in a pretty good generation, as far as having special needs goes. He has a mother who loves him unconditionally, and who will help him to learn about his brain and make it work for him, and who will advocate for him and teach him to advocate for himself. I think he will do things that are above and beyond what you can imagine! 🙂December 18, 2014 – 5:01 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think so too Angel! It’s so much better now than when I was a kid. I can’t remember any special needs kids in my classes – I don’t know where they were! I’m glad that there’s inclusion today!December 20, 2014 – 12:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - I’m scared of a lot of things but I do have the courage to believe in the best future for my son and love it that you said it first!December 19, 2014 – 12:52 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Here’s to the VeryBest futures for our little boys, Kenya! The VeryBest!December 20, 2014 – 12:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Meredith - Bravery is different for everyone. I think I’m a big fat scaredy cat about 90% of things…I could NEVER skydive. Ever. But, then, I think of things I’ve done that were hard, and maybe I didn’t want to do, and I think that is it’s own kind of bravery. 🙂January 6, 2015 – 10:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - You know, it’s funny. I could NEVER skydive now… because why, ya know? But another way to think of it is how stinking brave are we for even becoming moms, for loving a man enough to have a baby with him… that’s pretty brave right??? so yeah, we’re all brave I think 🙂January 6, 2015 – 11:09 pmReplyCancel

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