Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Good and The Bad of Blogging

When I first started blogging, I had no idea what to expect.  I thought it was a good way to keep in touch with extended family, sharing pictures and stories that would help all of us feel connected.

But blogging has done much more than that.

Let's start with the good stuff:

When I first started writing this blog, it was truly a life-saver.  It really helped me deal with some of my emotions and feelings regarding Lily's special needs.  It was therapeutic to write it all down, get it all out there and off my chest - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It gave people a glimpse into our everyday lives that hopefully educated them on what it's like to raise a child with special needs, therefore opening their eyes and hearts to families all around them in need of understanding and compassion.

It also helped me to focus on the positive aspects of our life with the Bird.  To look for the silver lining. To look for blessings in the midst of the sorrow.  And to remember to laugh when I felt like crying.  I learned the true meaning of joy no matter the circumstances.

And y'all.  The people I met?  Astounding.  I discovered this amazing community of special needs bloggers that welcomed me with open arms, commenting on my thoughts, sharing helpful advice, commiserating on bad days, offering solace, comfort, encouragement, and understanding.  The sense of relief I felt in knowing that others were living this same life right alongside me was huge.  I found a whole other kind of family and they continue to be a blessing to me in so many ways.

So there I was, just trucking along, writing five days a week on my own blog.  Then visiting other blogs, checking in with my online buddies, leaving comments, tweeting, and just generally trying to keep up with their lives, too.  I mean, I felt connected to these precious people and I wanted to know what was going on in their lives, how their kids were doing, what was going on in school, how their vacations went, and so on.

And here's where the blogging turned a little bit bad for me:

I could not stop thinking about special needs.

I was writing about it myself.  I was reading what other people wrote about it.  I was researching it.  I was reading books on it.  I was searching Pinterest for therapy ideas.  I was food shopping and cooking with special needs diets on my brain.  I was reading my Bible and constantly relating everything to special needs.

Slowly, but surely, I lost myself in special needs.

I had no escape.

My mom asked me one day what I would do if I quit doing anything at all that had to do with special needs and I honestly couldn't come up with an answer.  I didn't even know what I wanted to do anymore.  

And that, my friends, is not a healthy way to live.

And I had done it to myself.

I felt guilty if I wasn't spending all my free time doing something related to special needs.  If I was watching mindless television, that was time I should have spent coming up with new snack ideas for Lily's diet. If I was reading a fun book, that was time I should have spent on the computer, researching autism.  If I spent a few hours walking the mall, that was time I should have spent preparing some therapy activities for when Lily got home from school.

And have I mentioned that I have two other daughters who occasionally like to have a little bit of my undivided attention?

I knew I shouldn't let special needs consume me but I felt guilty if it didn't.

There's irony in there somewhere, I'm sure of it.

Now, to June.  Ryan was taking the whole month off from work.  So after much thinking, I decided to take the month off from blogging.  And I wasn't going to read other blogs, or be on Twitter and Facebook that much.  I was doing a little unplugging.

And guess what?

I freaked out for about two weeks.

I didn't realize how wrapped up I'd gotten in writing my blog.  And reading your blogs.  My mind was constantly on the lookout for blog material.

But more than that, I thought I was going to be exposed as someone who didn't care about special needs.  As someone who had just given up on her daughter and trying to find the next best thing for her life.

Ummmm.... hello?  That's a little extreme, don't you think?

But after those slightly panicky two weeks, I started to relax.  To enjoy.  To quit thinking about blogging and special needs.  To love on my family.  To spend time with the Bird without trying to teach her anything.  To just play.

And it was simply lovely.

Now, I still want to blog, for all those same good reasons I mentioned up there in the beginning.  But I want to maintain that simple loveliness I discovered during my "sabbatical".

So here's the new and improved plan for Along Came the Bird:

I will blog two days a week, typically Tuesdays and Fridays.  I may occasionally throw a Wordless Wednesday picture up there, but more than likely, those cute photos will only appear on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I will visit my sweet online friends and their blogs on Tuesdays and Fridays as well.  I know that means I might be a little behind in hearing some of your news but I'll still enjoy catching up with you and hearing about what's going on in your neck of the woods.

I will read for fun.  I will wander the mall every now and then.  I will watch some mindless television.  I will do less and as a result, accomplish more.

And I will not feel guilty.

No sir.


  1. Good for you! And even better for your family as a whole! It is so easy to get sucked into Special Needs World and let it consume your life. Our 2 year old has CP, epilepsy, and a whole host of other issues and I've spent the last 2 years reading blogs and books and creating therapies and driving to countless appointments that I didn't even realize how far down the rabbit hole I have traveled. It's been a year since my last visit home to see my family, I failed my best friend in a plan we created and I didn't implement, and I've only left the house 3 times by myself since he was born. He just started a special needs school 2 days a week for half days so I'm hoping it will force me back into the real world too. Thank you for another great post, I always get something great to take away from your blog :)

    1. I think you'll find that the school is a huge respite for you. It's so hard to carve out a little time for yourself but just a quick walk or a few chapters of a fiction book or a 30 minute nap can make a huge difference in your outlook and patience. I'll be praying for you! :) And thanks for the comment!

  2. Wow! That must have been some vacation!!! Sign me up!!!!
    Lily needs an advocate and I know you will continue to be that for her,but she needs a Mommy too.What 5 year old doesn't? Also cherish these passing days before Ryley goes off to school.(facing a similar send off myself, so am here if you need an understanding ear/shoulder) Nurture Miss Reagan as she becomes the oldest sibling at home and readjusts to life away from her big sis, Date Ryan-just the two of you to stay connected and for wonderful adult convo and take care of YOU! Love on yourself a little. Take a bubble bath with a mindless book in the middle of the day just for fun. Take a nap. Go to the movies (with the big girls and Ryan uninterrupted) -- that Spiderman-or other film offer still stands btw. ;)

    This step, I'm sure has taken great courage and I am so proud of you for putting this healthy boundary in place.

    And Lana, you'll always be a Big Deal Blogger to me even if you never submit a post again :-)

    1. It WAS some vacation! Thanks for your encouragement!

  3. I'm glad to hear that your blogging break helped you to find what was most important, my friend. I'll look forward to catching upm with you on Tuesdays and Thursdays too. Hugs!

  4. I know how easy it can be to become obsessed with special needs. We all live and breathe it as moms. I used to blog seven days a week! Can you imagine? It's hard enough on my schedule 4 days a week (if you count Wordless Wednesday). I'm glad you "found" yourself and set your boundaries. You will be happier and we will be here when you need us. xo

    1. No, I cannot imagine 7 days a week! I remember when you made those adjustments on your own blog - finding that balance can be a fine line between what's helpful and what's harmful... As always, thanks for your sweet words. And I look forward to catching up with you and T!

  5. I think when you commit to writing/reading everyday it becomes too much. Too stressful. Too much guilt when you miss. I think as long as you've surrounded yourself with understanding friends, and blog when your muse takes you. . . that's he perfect balance.

    1. Ahhhh, that ever elusive balance... always striving to find it!

  6. I love you for this Miss Lana! You have helped me so much with my own feelings of getting swamped in this special needs world. When you declared your time off, it inspired me to stop spending so much time on my computer in the afternoon and do all those other things I love to do.

    1. I have been seeing all your cute little crocheting going on! Good for you for taking a break, too. When Mama has fun, everyone has fun, am I right?? :)

  7. I heard a sermon series years ago entitled, "The Balanced Christian Life." Many of the same struggles you are discribing related to special needs applied to me in living out my faith. I also read a book entitled, "When I Relax I Feel Guilty." Those to items--the sermon series and the book--helped guide me toward a more balanced lifestyle. I still struggle and fight feeling guilty when I see others doing hundreds of things when I've narrowed my scope--but I believe the Holy Spirit can help us and guide us to what is best for each of us individually. I'm rejoicing with you.

    1. You're right - it can be hard when you hear all the "good stuff" others are doing when you're trying to scale back. But it's never good to compare, I always have to remind myself. Thanks for the kind words, Miss Mary!


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