Please Live

I've been blogging for over five years about my life, the recovery from the unexpected death of my four-year-old son Shale, the adoption of my youngest son Jumby and everything else in between.

I have been ad free and anonymous. Now I blog publicly with ads on the side bar, donating the revenue to the local children's hospital in my son's name.

I've written about topics I shouldn't have, said things I probably shouldn't have, upset people I love the most.

But I stand by every word I've written, ill advised or not because when I wrote those words I meant every word.

I'm a personal blogger and the things I write about are personal to me and sometimes to others.

This hasn't always been easy and it certainly hasn't been lucrative. I'm not exactly what is considered brand friendly. For the most part this hasn't bothered me because I've always just written for myself. I'm not in this blogging business to become rich and famous or morph into the next Dooce or Pioneer Woman.

I'm just Tanis, telling you what it means to be stuck out in the woods as an almost single mother, missing her husband while raising the wildebeests I calls my children and talking about how damn hard it is to recover from the unexpected death of a child and the joys or raising children, both the special needs and the typical variety.

If I toss in a story about diva cups or blue thunder along the way, I consider it a good day.

But occasionally, I have the opportunity to use my blog to raise awareness for the things that matter the most to me. I use my words to advocate for the wordless and the invisible. I use my blog to support charities like the Make A Wish Foundation and the Children's Miracle Network, even though neither association has asked me to.

When I was approached to write a series of (paid) sponsored posts for Procter and Gamble in support of The Special Olympics, it was one of those unique opportunities I couldn't turn down. I was given an opportunity to passionately support a campaign I fully believe in. It's The Special Olympics. How does a mother of a possible future Special Olympian say no to that?

I realize not everyone enjoys coming to a personal blog and reading a sponsored post. I was prepared for all sorts of dismayed comments, but what I found instead was this amazing gracious support from all of you who have read my posts.

Better than that even, is the support you have all shown for Procter and Gamble and their Thank You Mom campaign on facebook.

This is my last post in my series for P&G, my last chance to tell you what this campaign means to me as a special needs mom.

It can be incredibly isolating and difficult parenting people with special needs. It's time consuming and more often than not, my son Jumby comes first no matter what. His health takes precedence over everything, over everyone. It's a sometimes terrible thing to have to choose between your healthy children and your disabled child and all too often, between Shale and Jumby, my oldest children have gotten the shaft.

I spend my days advocating for my youngest and trying to find ways to ensure my older two children aren't forgotten in the mix of medical crises and therapy appointments. I juggle junior high sports and feeding tubes, hearing aides and soccer cleats, wheelchairs and iPods. It's our family's normal so I often forget it is not everyone's normal.

But more often than I would like, our carefully balanced eco-system crashes around us. We live bound to Jumby's needs and likely always will. There is no freedom from that, nor would I want there to be.

Most parents kiss their kids to bed every night and walk away with nary a thought to their child's next breath.

I kiss my son good night every night and then whisper in his ear, "Remember to live."

Because it wasn't so long ago when I kissed one little boy good night and never had the opportunity to do it again. He didn't live. That is a chain around my neck which threatens to strangle me with grief until I draw my last breath. I don't think I could survive the experience twice.

Please live.

But living doesn't just mean breathing. That is not enough for me, and it is certainly not enough for my children. I want them to be amazed. To feel joy. To marvel. I want them to dare to fail and then succeed.

I want them to live to their fullest and then live beyond even that. Like most parents, I want everything for my children.

For Jumby, everything is often considered unobtainable. Too many view him as disabled, less than. Too many can't see the warrior that lurks beneath his twisted body. They can't see the hero that hides inside his damaged mind.

My son was born at 24 weeks weighing one pound, four ounces. He was born addicted to crack.

He survived.

My son was shaken to the point of death when he was six months old.

He survived.

My son was smothered with bleach, assaulted, shaken again and left for dead before he turned two.

He survived.

The people who were to love and protect him robbed him of any chance of normalcy. Unlike his brother Shale, Jumby wasn't born disabled. He survived; his disabilities are his scars to bear forever.

So when people chose not to see my son, or to limit him, I am infuriated. I want to rage beyond reason, and scream into the wind with the unfairness of it all. My son Shale did not ask to be born different. Jumby did not ask to be sentenced to a life of difference. No person does. And yet, those are the cards that have been dealt.

It is my job, as their mother, to ensure those cards no longer restrict my kids. Not when they are children and not when they are adults. It's my job to show them and the world the possibilities that exist for people of all abilities.

This is why I chose to support and write for Procter and Gamble. Because I am so thankful for the work this company is doing in helping promote people with special needs. With their campaign like the Thank You Mom campaign on facebook and their sponsorship of the World Games, they are raising awareness and hope for families like mine.

They are helping the world see past the limits of disabilities and into the possibilities which exist for everyone. They are helping make dreams come true the way I so desperately want for my own children.

With a campaign like this, I feel a little less isolated as a mother to children with special needs.

Today is the closing day of the World Games in Athens for The Special Olympics. Today the last of these amazing athletes compete to make their dreams come true, to chase their gold medals. It's not too late to show your support for those athletes or their families. It's not too late to show your support for the Thank You Mom campaign on facebook. Every time you leave a comment, like or share the Thank You Mom campaign on facebook Procter and Gamble will donate a dollar (up to $250,000) to support Team USA’s journey to Athens.

Thank you P&G, on behalf of all the moms of the athletes, and on behalf of all the moms of future athletes. For believing in our kids. For helping them shine in front of the entire world.

And thank you to everyone who reads this, for supporting my family and my blog and allowing me the grace to step outside my usual prose and use my words to tell the world how much I adore each of my children.

Remember to live.