It seems I've been catching some Z's.
For followers of the blogs on the Autism Hub, one would have to have been asleep over the last several days to have missed it's mini identity crisis.
I followed the links from Joe's blog and more links from there and caught myself up on the conversation that has taken over the Hub, the crux of which seems to be this: it is time to clarify the mission and, perhaps, the membership of Autism Hub.
I'm all for it. To be honest, I've never really been sure if I was a good "fit" for the Hub. (This is not a veiled request for reassurance, so no comments that stroke my ego are necessary here.) When I became aware of the Hub in March, 2006, I sent two e-mails in rapid succession. The first was a request to join. The second was an apology and a request to rescind my previous request. After sending the first request, I'd spent more time reading the blogs affiliated with the Hub and noticed that most of them had an activist focus - and while I believe in the power and importance of autism activism, while I may tip-toe into it from time to time, it does not tend to be the focus of my blog.
A short time after sending my second e-mail, I got a reply from then-scary-to-me Kevin Leitch. I explained my dilemma to Kev - that it seemed to me that the Hub was designed for autism activism, and that I mostly posted cute stories about my delightful son. Kev said there was room at the Hub for cute stories and he welcomed me into the fold. For over a year now, I've been delighted to be in such wonderful company - but I have to admit that I've continued to wonder if I'm just a bit out of place.
So, this current Hub-identity conversation is, I think, a good (if difficult) one that will address important issues as the Hub continues to evolve: Should the Hub only include blogs that focus primarily on autism advocacy and activism? And, if so, should its primary emphasis be on bloggers who are themselves autistic? Good questions. Important questions. I'm glad that people are taking them on.
But, in contrast to my fellow Hub bloggers who are asking the hard questions and engaging in a powerful discourse, I will continue watching from the sidelines.
I thought a lot about the ongoing Hub debate yesterday while I was mowing the lawn. I thought a lot about my own inactivism - both my recent absence from the blogosphere and my tendency to blog more about Bud's sweetness than about the politics of autism. I thought about how I make decisions about where to put my energy - about why I am not more drawn to activism.
As I thought, I pushed the mower, its motor buzzing loudly, while Bud walked alongside me with his own Fisher Price mower in front of him, his shoulders hunched as he tried to muffle the noise from my machine. I turned toward Bud and saw his lips moving. I could tell he was asking me something, but I couldn't hear his words. I leaned down and put my ear next to his mouth, and he shouted his question to me: "Can I hold your hand?"
Bud was frightened by the sound of the lawn mower, but his desire to be part of the process was greater than his fear. Just the same, he needed some tangible, physical reassurance from me to know that he was safe. So I reached out my left hand and he grasped it tightly, and together we continued to mow the lawn. My right hand gripped the mower's handle and squeezed the power bar. I propelled the mower - uphill in the beating sun - with the power from my right arm and some heavy support from my abdomen, and we moved together, back and forth, uphill and down, cutting a little bit of grass and building a great deal of unspoken connection.
I thought about the parallel between autism advocacy and my unmown lawn. I need to think about both - I need to address both - for Bud's sake. He will always be an autistic person in a largely neurotypical world, and I need to do what I can in the world of activism to help create an environment that will both challenge him and support him, just as he will continue to be a child who wants to play in the yard, and who needs an environment free from the tall grasses that harbor deer ticks and other disease-carrying critters. He needs me to do my part with these things. In the big picture, over time, I need to make sure these things get my attention and my energy. I also need to make sure that I help him learn how to mow the lawn on his own, and how to become an effective self-advocate and, if he chooses, activist.
But in the moment, in the right-here-right-now, Bud needs me. He needs me to be his parent. He needs me to hold his hand. And so, for now, it is parenting and not activism that will continue to be my primary focus. Parenting will win out over blogging. Blogging about parenting will win out over blogging about the politics of autism.
That might make me a poor fit for the Autism Hub, depending on where the Hub goes from here. And I'm okay with that. I'll continue to support the Hub and I'll continue to read the bloggers who post there, whether or not I'm among them.
Right now, my lawn is one-quarter mowed. I couldn't sustain the physical exertion to do any more of it. If the rain holds off, Bud and I will do a little more mowing today - probably just a few square feet, possibly even blade by blade, but, almost certainly, hand in hand.