Hey, parents, we are back with Courtney. And we're Keisha and we have a guest today we have Melinda with Hey, Mommy. Hey, we were already chatting. So we've been cheating on you guys. But we did hit record finally. And so, Gordon, you want to say, hey, hey, real fast, everyone.
Yeah, hey, I'm so excited about this topic. I was actually already bragging about it on Instagram. Just the fact we're recording it because I'm so excited for it. Just like that. We were recording that there's something awesome was coming up and that she makes sure they're following the podcast. So they get the alerts. That was it. That was it.
He told me all the secrets already.
I'm terrible at keeping secrets. I want to just give it to him. Right then.
Yeah. Hear that? To be a good conversation.
So tell us a little bit about your kiddos. First of all, that's what we love to hear about. And then you can tell us about yourself too.
So my name is Melinda and I see kiddos Clark, who is seven who's a second grader who just started school. So it's all you know, big into what grades are in and where you're teaching them and all that. And then my daughter is four, she's in pre K this year. Both of them have a combination of disabilities. Autistic anxiety, mood disorder, mobility. So it's a fun, you know, fun place to be at our house, we just, you know, navigate different things day by day. And then I'm a woman who also has my own neuro diversities and neuromuscular condition, as well. As then, professionally speaking, I run Hey, Mommy, it's a lifestyle platform. For moms raising kiddos with disabilities. We are super big into empowering representation and motherhood and childhood platforms, and just how important it is to see yourself represented and utilizing brand platforms to showcase more to disability than just the medical mindset that tends to come when people hear a diagnosis. Yeah.
I love, love, love you started that last year. I think that's how I mean, I think I know that's how we,
yeah, exactly. Labor Day,
Instagram, because I was like, this. Is this is wonderful. This is. Yeah, thank you. Yeah,
you were, I clearly remember you're one of the first people who started following the platform when it launched, which was last Labor Day, I couldn't help but you know, the irony and Aman platform launching on Labor Day, or whatever. But it was, it was special. Because you know, at least in my motherhood journey, I was really struggling for many, many years, trying to find guidance and tips and advice. And, you know, would have been great if I had known about podcasts and stuff from back there. But I was looking to parenting platforms, you know, such as parenthood magazine, every mom, those types of places for support, and I could not find any guidance on our situation. And it left me feeling even more isolated and alone. So as I started to do all my research and find the statistics behind representation, and where the conversations are going, I was like, this is not being talked about, and oh my goodness, when no 17% of kids have a disability, like, we need to be talking about this and supporting moms in any way. So that's where, Hey, Mommy came about.
And what I love. What I love is that there are a lot of support groups, and I hope I don't offend anyone, but there's a lot of support groups, and it's like, really, really sad. And, like, a lot of the pictures are like, sad. Yeah. And it's not there is it's not always sad, like when I am with my son. It's funny stuff that happened. A lot of it is not just like we're just not a sad family because it's diagnosis. It's a lot of hard work. And it's it's different than raising our other kids. But he does some stuff that is hilarious. There's a lot of joy in his neurodiversity. And I like that. You're bringing that to you. There's a lot of cute stuff that he does. Like today he was getting dressed and I was doing his hair and he was like, Ooh, I like waves. He has teenage brothers. So he's just so that he repeats he's like, Ooh, you I look, oh, I got that drip.
That's what he's okay.
I looked like eight. That's a six year old brother. So I just, you know, I'm saying like, it's not just sad kids that are eight, you know, using their devices. And even if they're not speak, it's not always sad. And that's a lot of the references rep resume. That was like in the past. And so a lot of your things that you're bringing up is like, they have cute clothes. And they're, you know?
Yeah, absolutely. Well, it's, you know, I know, we experience a lot of challenges and struggles in life. And at the same time, that's not the only capacity to our experiences. But I think when the conversation and the representation is so heavily weighed that way, it makes us feel even more of this is the capacity of what, because that's what you see, it's sort of like what you see is what's possible, in a sense. And so I think when we start sort of flipping the script when it comes to, okay, what are we talking about, within our families? And what are we showcasing? It gives people a lot of new perspectives of what is possible for their own lives. And, you know, we just get creative over here, because that's, you know, that's just how you get things done. So,
right, absolutely. I remember when we saw my daughter, Hannah, she's 18. I'm so getting used to saying that she's 18, she's a wheelchair user, and she's not speaking. But when we started traveling and sharing our travels, many of my friends in my circles were kind of almost like shocked that we travel with her or we take her so many places where they didn't really think she could go you know, and we're the how nerve wracking It is sometimes to travel when you have different medical things and but part of the reason why I wanted to do that as a we love to travel, travel brings us a lot of joy, it's is a lot of work, but so is going on any vacation when you're taking your kids. So I call that a family vacation. And then when it's just Craig or I or myself, like that's a vacation because, you know, it's work no matter what when you've taken the kids. But part of the reason why I started sharing that is I wanted people to see, you know, you can have be a wheelchair user and take awesome trips, and your child can be nonspeaking. And they can enjoy these things. And I didn't see enough of that. myself. But I think that would change diagnosis day so much when I think back to when I got Hannah's diagnosis, and like you said, feeling very alone, isolated. This is, you know, early 2000s. It's just the internet is so different now the capability of having all these different networks and information, but how different it felt when my son got his diagnosis was so drastically different. Because I felt like, okay, it's putting a label on what I kind of already knew. But I had such a different picture of what his life could be, because of seeing all these other kids growing up and having jobs and living really full lives. It changed my perspective of what his life could look like, versus when I got the diagnosis for my daughter, it was very doom and gloom negative. And it makes me sad when I think back because I, I was so anxious about her being born with a disability. And I was so worried that it took away from the joy of I'm bringing my daughter and to the world. And I just wish I could go back and be like, it's, it's still joyful. Like I'm having a beautiful daughter and she's a beautiful person. She's just different than what I thought motherhood would look like I didn't, I didn't see that. You know, I was telling my Keisha last time we recorded, they missed that chapter and what to expect. We miss my
letter to the author. Yeah.
I like putting that out there. And like you're saying changing that perspective is also giving families hope and seeing themselves represented in all these different places and on these platforms is going to change their mindset for for what their kid can can do and what kind of life they can have. Which is amazing, right?
Absolutely. And as the parents who were like quarterbacking that, you know, as the leader of our kids and our pack and everything. And so I think, you know, when you empower moms and that way your parents am to say hey, like, yeah, I can go on this awesome vacation. Here's how to make it assessable or here's how you do this. Like that. That's life changing because now you go from feeling sort of that confinement. I don't know. I always feel like I'm at a house even before the pandemic I was like, we're just always in the house and it feels so restrictive. You know, and then you see someone with your disability or your child's disability The, you know, doing something at the beach or mountains or whatever it may be right. I think it just opens up. Yeah. All of life again, right, when you've been told that there's these restrictions or limitations that you should expect? Yeah,
yes. And it's changing that too, because more people, I see pressure, but it's in a good way. Like, I feel like we should be further along than we are coming into, you know, 2023 here, I feel like beaches should have a rollout mat so that Hannah can go down to the ocean. But what I see happening is, as more and more people do it, they are feeling the pressure that why our beach doesn't have that our beach needs to have that, let's get that. I am excited about that happening more and people feeling that I don't care if it's pressure, like Yes, get accessible, like, my daughter wants to go the beach just like you wanted to go to the beach, you cannot roll a typical wheelchair and or honestly walk very well down there with a cane or any other assistive device on the sand. So having a beach accessible, Matt, is like a minimum that you can do to say, everybody's welcome here. So I think I saw something on your page, it was like, trending versus your values. Did I get that? Right?
Yeah. Um, so like trends versus standards is how I've sort of been thinking. And when something's the standard, that's the minimum expectation that is, this is so embedded to who we are as a family, a person, a business, that Absolutely, we're pre thinking about these things. Were not sort of picking up on that trend afterwards. And I think a lot of times, and say, I think I know, a lot of times, you know, brands, businesses, what have you aren't considering those things. But like you said, when you start to see it from other places, and they have that no positive response, it almost is like that good peer pressure that is like, Oh, we you know, why haven't we been thinking about this? But rather than follow, you know, a trend of, you know, trends, wax and wane versus a standard is concrete. It's where we're solidifying this, you know, inclusion as our brand value, and everything that we do. And you just think about how you're doing things differently. I think when you come from that mindset,
I love that that was like, I couldn't cheer loud enough. I was like, yes. Because you don't want it to be a trend, you know, feel good moment. Right, be an extended feel good moment, what would feel really good is, you know, people understanding simple things like, you know, putting carts back that aren't blocking access ways. It's setting that that standard, like you said, in that mindset that how can we make a standard of inclusion and and making sure everybody knows, they're welcome here. And a perfect story of that, I'll have to find it for the shownotes markeesha. But a brewery made a fully accessible bathroom, no law, no mandate, made them do it. They were remodeling. And they said, you know, we've been hearing about universal change tables, we're gonna make this bathroom accessible. And everybody kept asking them why, like, why were you doing it. And they said, because we saw that this was a need. And we wanted to make sure everybody knew they're welcome here at our restaurant at our place. And then they shared their plans. And they shared how it was not that much more than to just remodel it yet. And then they brought in a wheelchair, and they test drove it and they said, these ATA requirements are pretty, you know, pathetic, like you can barely get in here. So they made it better than that. And that's why I say the ATA is like the minimum, it doesn't mean you make it actually better and where you can move around, and they did a pocket door. And they thought about all these things, and really, like, out of the park, and I thought, that's what we need. That's what we need more of is that was our brand value of everybody's going to be welcome here at our restaurant. And we want them to know that and they they did that by making an accessible restroom, which was really awesome. But I was just kind of shocked. I don't know why I still get shocked. But like, why people were like, Why did you do that? Like because there's there's a need that's been overlooked. And we didn't want to be a part of that. We want to be a part of setting this new standard of inclusion, which I just loved.
That's phenomenal. And I'm excited for the day where those things are no longer so The prize or like, you know, the oddity, right, truly are, are the standard with everything that's we're trained to push for. But I also think, you know, having that brand value and being so intentional about the whole experience, for anyone who's coming, is the way to look at it. And also the space where people will stop being inclusive in a sense, where they're like, Oh, we value inclusion. And so we're going to tell you about that. But they don't show it through all the avenues of their business, their websites, not assessable. You know, maybe it's their parking spots, what have you. And you know, if it's a physical structure versus an online company, but you don't need to just say it right, you have to actually live that out through your brand experience, no matter where you're, you know, you're hosting that at.
Yeah, that's right.
Oh, sorry. That I love this work. However, before I was a special education teacher, I love I love kids. I had no clue. Right? So I am going to believe that there's people out there that would love this work also, that just think like, I just like, oh, Ada, like I didn't park in a hip and handicap parking space, because I knew, you know that someone needed that parking space. So there's something that I wouldn't have done. But I didn't think about the things that I think about now. Because I started to think about it. Once I was in the classroom with my my kids, my, my I call, I call my students, my kids, then I started going to the playgrounds. And I was like, Johnny can't go to what chips ridiculous. He can't use his he can't go to you know, but prior to that when I have my own kids and prior to Josiah, so just you know, I have the three giants are only two years apart, then I have Josiah, you know, there's they've now they're 1916 13, and seven. So I had the bunch. So they would go to the playground with chips, no problem, right. Got into special education. eyes were opened. And I know that there are a lot of families and adults and kids and just people that are out there that are like, what's the problem with wood chips, I don't understand, until I got into special education. And then I was and I had a Johnny in my classroom that had a wheelchair. And then my eyes were open when I would take my own kids to that did not have a disability to the playground. And then I would start thinking about Johnny, how could Johnny go on this playground? Yes, it is ADA accessible because there was a ramp. Yeah, he can get down to the there was this pirate ship that all the kids love. My kids loved this one. And he could get down there because there was a ramp. But then there was wood chips. And he could not assess the big pirate ship and all the kids. So I was I would be livid. I won't be sitting everywhere I went after I started being a special education teacher, I would be like, and how could it How could he? And how can my students you know, access this? And I was just everything, everything. But there, but I became a special education teacher everyone doesn't have that experience. So how would you, Melinda, how would you? How do we How to someone who doesn't have a child that has a disability? How does someone who doesn't have the experience of being around kids that have disabilities like that? That's what opened my eyes. I would say that if I, I I'm wishing that I had that experience early sooner, you know, that was already in 2013 2009. I was the general education teacher since 2000. I could have been doing this work sooner. You know, but how would you? How do we get out of you know, we're all the like, we're all shaking our heads. You guys can't see us because the podcast but we're in this space. But how do we reach? We need to reach?
Yes, you do. I am so I totally am on your question. Yeah. I'm glad you're asking it. Yeah, so this is why setting the standard for inclusion across all industries is so paramount. Because if you do not have the, you know, the lens of being disabled or having a child with a disability, then you don't, you're not seeing that. However, when businesses start representing people with disabilities across all platforms, when that is the standard that we are all operating by, you will not be able to go to a space and not see something How do you represent it. And once you have that perspective, once you have that lens of somebody else, then it's like you said, I couldn't help but not see it every time I go to the park, when you have that lens of other people and their expression, I think it gives you that, you know, you can't fault someone for not knowing yet. But once you know, once you experience once you see somebody else in their life, that's that sticks with you through everything else. And the trickle down effects from that, I think is where we see global change, when it comes to the social impact of disability representation. Right? It's that person who let's just take target because they're being active in this right now. At least when it comes to their children's lines, you're not seeing disability representation across, you know, their women's and men's lines, which is a big thing that I think could improve, but, you know, they're going in, they're seeing representation of a girl with cerebral palsy, you know, using her mobility aids, all of a sudden, that mom, those children are saying, oh, okay, you know, she needs this extra support to walk. And then the questions start coming, right, because we all know, kids are the best at asking questions. Well, how does she? How does she get up and down the stairs? You know, how does? How would she play here at the playground? What clothes would she wear? You know, that allows her to have an A maybe not some classic example because but she was everything else. Like if you could you imagine seeing um, you know, I've yet to see and I would love to see, you know, kids, people with traipse people with G tubes will oxygen like all there's such a diversity within disability that also needs to be represented. And when we have that, it starts bringing up those questions that gets all of society more creative and how we're operating and performing in the world. And that's going to transform you know, everything I feel like but it starts with people have to see this you have to have that visibility for it to start being a thought in people's minds
are also think Sorry, I'm hogging up the conversation. What I found too is when I was in the classroom is that families weren't going out also. So what I always encouraged, they're like, No, we're not going to we don't go out to Cheesecake Factory because Emma has too many, too many meltdowns. And I was like, why? Like, would you don't go Cheesecake Factory. So once she has meltdowns like you guys want to go out to eat? Right? And, you know, this is prior to having Josiah like, this is just my first year teacher mind. Like if you want to go to Cheesecake Factory, go to Cheesecake Factory, right? So what if someone looks at you? You know, I know we've all been to restaurants when there's kids with disabilities or not, is having a having a meltdown, you know, throwing the breadsticks throwing the stuff, right? And they're like, no, because in the reason wasn't that Emma was having a meltdown was that everybody else was looking at at them, right? Because they don't know if you know, Emma is autistic, or if she's just having a bad day, right? But the feeling is that everyone's looking at me and I'm ruining everyone else's time. Right? So it's like, having families feel like I belong in Cheesecake Factory or at the park, even if my kid is throwing the wood chips or rubbing the tree Joe. Joe loves the texture. Yeah. So you know, I don't care. I would like you guys can't see me live in the look. But there's a look that my friend Jen says I have this look, but I was like, I wish you would say something to me about my son. He loves the trees. But everyone's not there yet. But I want you to be I'm looking at you. I'm pointing at you families that are listening to be you desert, you know, you pay your taxes to go to the park. Even if we get to go to Cheesecake Factory even it's like we're just gonna go in and we're gonna go out. People need to see that. There might be a meltdown. And then we can go back, you know, to your to your comfort level. If that's what you want your family to. If that's part of your family culture, we talk about that a lot. Yeah, we travel coordinator coordinates family travels. We have other kids too. So that's another thing that we talked about is that we don't we don't cater. I'm just going to tell you how it is. This is this podcast. You don't cater to his disability, we have a family culture, and we do make accommodations for those things. So we're not like torturing him with things that he just doesn't like. But we do have a family culture, and we make accommodations for those things. But we do have a family culture of things. And one of those things is travel. So we make accommodations to those things. But we do still do things for our family culture, because like, our kids are making sports. And we got to go to those sporting events we worked up to where he can do those things. And we make when we know that it's too much than we make, you know, my sister's available. These past couple of times have been too much for him, he stays home with the siblings. So we make, like I said, accommodations, but we don't just cater to them, we're going to go out to dinner, then we're going to go out to dinner, if there's going to be a meltdown, and we have a plan for that. But we do go out. Right, we're not if that's something for your family, everybody doesn't like to go out to dinner. But say that, let's say it's the movies, or say whatever it is for your family culture, especially when you have other other kids I feel, especially when you have other kids because you you know, there's that's a whole nother thing that we can talk about.
easing into though, but sometimes we feel like if we just stay in, then we won't like you said take away from people's time or cause a scene or whatever it might be. And Hannah at grocery stores, I don't know what it was if she wanted all the food. She loves food. I don't know if she just saw the food and felt taunted. But she ate it grocery stores. And we had an awesome caregiver who took her to the grocery store every day that she worked with her. They went for one minute, 30 seconds. And one day she said, Courtney, we went down two aisles, no more screaming. And so it was uncomfortable. It wasn't like it was a perfect, but it was uncomfortable to go through that process. But it was necessary so that Hannah could enjoy you know, going to the grocery store with us, it couldn't be avoided. Now this is maybe now can be avoided with all these order online. But you don't want to go through your life avoiding things because of your own disability or because of your child's you have to decide what you want, and then find a way to go about and get it. But seeing people need to see more of them in real life. Because I wonder why kids stare at her, I really do. And I I've come to realize they it's so new to them. They have not seen someone her age, in a wheelchair navigating, making maybe different sounds that she makes, because Hannah really is completely, you know, non speaking, she has some sound she makes I know what they mean. Some tones, I know means excited this tone mean, she's mad. This one's like she's getting ready to do satin. But nobody else knows what that. So it's, it's different to them. So they turn a look because they don't know what that sound is, you know, or what, why she moves her arms spontaneously. And so I tried to have sympathy for that. But I also realize it's because they it's they're not seeing students in school, they're not out a part of the school community. They're not out at the playground at the same time as them. And I know we can take the conversation in lots of different ways. But it comes back to your core mission of what you're doing there is seeing kids need to see other kids, other adults represented so that they're not staring. They're like, Oh, she's in a wheelchair, because her legs might not be able to balance and her muscles might not be able to hold her up. And but it's a phenomenon, because they're not It's not ingrained in their community or out in the in their world. So that's why they're staring. Yeah, that's how I feel.
I talk to a lot of moms about that. And it's sort of that like, you know, where the billboard when we go into a restaurant or a shopping place, you become the billboard, right, because there's not representation elsewhere. You're that and that's a lot to take on with someone who doesn't, you know, you're not asking for that role. You don't want that role, but you do want to be able to freely go where you want to and not be stared at, or looked at constantly right for those things. So I I hope and I think that as representation increases, not only does that make it a more welcoming place for us to go visit because we know we're included here we see ourselves and and such but it also takes off some of that social pressure that we feel sort of in the here and now with everything too.
Yeah. Some time,
I know it's hard. But I think about all the people who didn't want to be the billboards and civil rights and disability rights and the rights that we have currently, which was way harder, you know, then, within what we have now, because we have way more technology, look what look at what we're doing right now, like, about to do a podcast in social media, and that they didn't want it and it was harder. And I know, you know, I'm just encouraging people to like, if we, if not, if it's not us, then who kind of thing. It's not, it's not easy to want that kind of attention. But if it's not on in a daily, kind of like, who who's going to be on those target ads, you know, who's going to be, you know, if they don't see that the Cheesecake Factory and at your local, were already so segregated at the school, that's, especially if it's if you don't, if someone's kid or family doesn't stand up at each kind of school and say, Well, you know, what, I'm going to leave this at my school, and I'm going to, it's going to be my kid, and we're gonna go to the grocery store, and we're going to do this in my area, then, how can we have those that representation? Who's going to be on those ads? Who's gonna be in the commercial? You know, I know. I'm not saying it's easy guys out there. But it's gonna be who's gonna be?
Yeah, I think that's been really encouraging to see in our mommy community, as well. So on our platform, earlier this year, I put out, you know, if you are interested in being the representation literally being the change that people see, by working with brands, let me know. And we had 50, families immediately sign up and say, you know, what, this is a calling, you know, or a desire that I have, you know, that fits their personality that wants to be showcased in that way. And so then, my work has started to become, through a program designed by inclusion to connect those families with brands who want to facilitate that inclusion and truly, you know, fit that standard for their industry, which is so awesome. And I think, you know, to your question, you know, there are families who are ready to rally in that way. And then there's other families who just want to send the email to the school, which is just as awesome, right, and equally as important. So I think it's really a culmination of, hey, to the families who are like, I want to show up for the photo shoot, so people can see and your kid can feel included, and to the other families who are like, hey, Melinda, give me the template, and I'll send it to my teacher right now. So we have a whole aisle of, you know, inclusive children's books at our school. You know, all of this forms of advocacy are really gonna.
Yes, thank you for bringing that up to you. Yeah, there's, there's different ways. So how, how can the listeners get on? Board? How can they help support this? This mission? Yeah, absolutely. Thanks
for asking. So we have everything linked up at our hammami.com website. So if you go there, you'll see a space to one be nurtured and loved on with content that supports your everyday life. As well as you know, find the opportunities to join the mommy network and, you know, rally with brands who are looking to further their inclusion to
and where can they follow you?
Yeah, so we're online at Hey, Mommy, mommy spelt with an E. So it's mo M M E, which is little fun twist. We're personally I'm at Melinda K Martin on Instagram as well.
Now, will you come back and just talk to us about your kiddos and your own personal journey? Can there be a part two?
Absolutely. We can certainly dive into that. That'd be fun. All four.
Sounds good. We're gonna we promise to keep these as little sweet treats. We're, we're because we know you guys are busy, busy moms like, like us. So we're gonna wrap it up. And, Courtney, you have anything to say to wrap this up before we come back for part two though.
Yeah, we're gonna come back for part two. But did you also make a Mother's Day video
needs Ed? Yeah.
Go check it out. It's still up on your platform. Right. Go back. I loved seeing that. I loved seeing moms. So basically, there's like moms rocking it doing what our everyday life might look like. And it was even a chance for me to see you know, other moms rocking getting the headphones on I'm getting this in doing that. I loved seeing all the different moms in action. So I really, that was like my mother's day treat that I loved seeing myself and other moms. So I really hope they go and follow you and check it out.
Yeah. Yeah. The show notes because that one was, it was showing all different kinds of mommies. Yeah. Yes, I'll link that show notes for you guys.
And I'll also link the brewery because they had their the plans for the accessible bathroom, and you guys can go check out some of their other content they have. So it's not local. I haven't got to go to the brewery is not in my state. But I still think you can check out and follow their, their page and support them that way too. So
thank you guys so much for having me on.
Thank you for coming. Yes, absolutely. And we'll get a date together for part two, everybody have a good rest of your day or evening. Whenever you're taking a listen and yeah, that's it. Bye