People blog for a lot of different reasons. Some blogs are designed to be a sort of virtual town square - a public forum in which all are invited to climb upon a soapbox and engage in robust politicking, complete with scathing diatribes and ad hominem attacks, in which free speech is valued above all else.
This is not one of those blogs.
In marked contrast to the town-square model of blogging, I think of this blog as my own personal living room. I've chosen the furniture, I've arranged the seating just so, I've brewed the coffee, and I've baked the pie. I welcome you into my home. I'm the mother of a child with autism and in my real life I don't know many other parents of children with autism. In real life, I don't know any autistic adults who talk to me about being autistic. In real life, I have a wonderful but small circle of educators and specialists to act as a resource. In real life, many of my friends and relatives live a long distance away from me. In real life, I don't get out much. But here, in this virtual living room, we can all come together. We can swap stories. We can offer support. We can laugh and cry together. And the coffee is always hot and never overbrewed. This is a good place we've got going.
But here's the thing: My door is open. I welcome visitors. I am anxious to hear your stories and I look forward to our dialogues. But even though we are gathering together here on the Internet, I want to be perfectly clear: when you are visiting here, you are in my home. As such, I need to invoke the tired parenting adage that teenagers loathe, but later adopt when they have children of their own:
My house, my rules.
And my primary rule is this: you may not enter my house and treat my other guests badly. If you walk into my living room and start trashing the place, I will ask you to leave. If you visit my blog and use my comments section to level personal attacks at my other guests or at my parenting style or at my philosophy on life, I will delete your comments without fanfare - without, in fact, so much as a mention.
My house, my rules.
That is not to say that you can't disagree with me or with anyone else who is posting here. To the contrary - I welcome alternate views! I want to know what you believe, and why you believe it. But I ask that when you broach delicate subjects with others with whom you disagree, you do so in the spirit of the moral conversation - by looking for the truth in what you oppose and the error in what you espouse. Be passionate and forceful when you share your perspective, but be respectful - and know that if your comments smack of mean-spiritedness or baiting or disrespect, then they will disappear quickly. What standard will I use to judge? I'll use my own standards, guided by my own beliefs. If I wouldn't stand for it in my wood-and-shingles house, then I won't stand for it in my virtual living room either. My house, my rules.
So, to my friends who have long been making themselves comfortable on my virtual couch but who have been strangely absent in recent days, to those friends and strangers who have e-mailed me privately over the past 24 hours feeling too vulnerable to post their thoughts openly, please come back. There are plenty of comfortable seats left, and I've just brewed a fresh pot of coffee.
Please, make yourself at home.