Blogger Phoebe Holmes “never planned on going viral.” But in late December 2011, the mom of four wrote an entry on her personal blog about “Being retarded” — specifically, use of the word “retarded” as a synonym for “stupid” — and the Internet noticed.

Holmes is the mother of Maura, a young girl diagnosed with cognitive disabilities — or in other words, mentally retarded. And so she wrote a little about how people’s casual misapplication of that word reflects on her life and her daughter. The post, not to mention Holmes’ positivity and love and admiration for her daughter, apparently struck a chord with the people of the Internet, and her normal 50-100 hits-per-post turned into 90,000-plus as the link spread around social media networks.

For me, it’s not just any old word – it’s my daughter. My beautiful, bright, happy, loving, amazing daughter who is slow or limited in intellectual development and academic progress.

In our household, being retarded means something different.

It means not being able to fully care for yourself.

It means not understanding what the doctor is going to do to you.

It means not being able to explain what hurts when something hurts.

It means not being able to ride a two wheeler. Or read. Or ever be able to live on your own.

But ever the optimist, I also know that retarded means…

…never realizing the negativity behind the word retarded.

…never knowing the insensitivity surrounded the word’s usage.

…never realizing the ignorance of people.

…never knowing how other people view you.

Being retarded also means…

…loving unconditionally.

…finding joy in the smallest of things.

…being self-confident.

…not realizing that there are limitations.


If you haven’t seen it yet, give the whole thing a read.