It's 4:45 a.m.............on a SATURDAY, the weekend before school officially starts for my children and I begin my teaching journey again. Why in the world am I awake? Is it so I can go for a nice run through my neighborhood while it's still cool outside since we had a whopping cool front of 70 degree temperature this morning? Nope, I'm a scaredy cat and I don't like running when it's dark. Probably because I watch too much Dateline and don't particularly want to make an appearance on their show as a mystery case of disappearance, and for the mere fact that I have done it before and don't particularly enjoy having morning meetings with all the nocturnal critters out here in the country (especially skunks).
I am awake because my thoughts run river deep and mountain high with last minute details such as: "I bought supplies and items for my classroom, but did I forget any supplies on my own child's class list?" or "my classroom looks so nice and organized, but I have got to get my house cleaned and organized, because it will probably be the last time that all the laundry is actually put away and we are not digging out clothes from the dryer for the next nine months." The time has arrived for me to leave my family, in essence, in order to serve others and do what I have been called to do. So like all my companions who are boarding this ship with me, we say "bon voyage" and begin to set sail on a journey into the vastness of possibilities for our students, and our own children. Which leads me to my next thought. This is the time of year that I am reminded that I'm not actually getting on the same ship as most of my colleagues, but rather a smaller ship, one of which doesn't have the stabilizers to keep the boat from rocking back and forth for smooth sailing. In other words, this boat is for passengers (educators/parents) who also happen to have a child with special needs. First, we get on this boat praying that their are life jackets for when the sea gets rocky. (I'm going to use a lot of metaphors in this blog, so the best brand of life jacket I have found that keeps your head above water is called Jesus). Presumably dropping our kids off should put us at ease because we are already in the education world and all will go according to plan, but that is not always the case. We are just as worried and anxious as a parent who is not in the education field. I will speak from experience, that yes, I do have to take off my teacher hat, and put on my mom hat, because I will always be mom first. This is not an easy task to do sometimes, so starting school for me feels like The Amazing Race........on that smaller ship. I run through the mental check list: "gotta get that Epipen to the school...crap, gotta also get the doctor orders to give to the school; need to meet all Logan's teachers and give them the crash course of his "diagnosis" along with his occupation with hospitals and surgeries; we have to get his instrument to school so it can stay there for him to use because it's too heavy to transport back and forth; shoes for Apert feet!!!! OH, good heavens trying to find tennis shoes for feet that are wide, one foot flat and one has a high arch and with splayed toes! We have to go to the actual New Balance store to get fitted and also buy the expensive memory foam shoe inserts (this is our final step to try before we pay $$$ to get custom orthotics, and yes we've already tried Dr. Scholl's) and also the little y-ties or shoe clip thingies for keeping shoes tied and they gotta look cool so he is not embarrassed about that part; for the longest time I had to search and hunt for pants/shorts that were either elastic or had hooks or snaps, and if I couldn't find any, we bought a rivet tool to make them that way; make sure everything is set up for him to begin the school year and be successful, IEP goals, assistive technology, will his teachers see how much potential he has; will he have someone to sit with at lunch this year? Oh yes, how am I going to get him to and from school when his start time is the same as my campus, but I have to be on campus 30 minutes earlier than that and I have to do dismissal?" This isn't even the tip of the iceberg for some parents.
I wouldn't change my life for the world!
However, I'm not gonna lie.........I do throw myself some great pity parties. (I would invite you, but they're not a lot of fun. I am sure my very close friends wished they would quit accepting my invitations to them). I often wonder, why does everything have to be so hard? why does my child have to deal with so many challenges? why can't I just get school supplies, roll up the first day and drop him off and be done?
The answers to these questions are: there ARE NO answers to these questions. I know in my heart that God planned all of this out, and that there is PURPOSE in every hardship, as well as the easy stuff. I just have to remind myself that I am NOT alone on this ship.
The seas can be so treacherous, and some days it's just down right hard to imagine weathering the storm. But at some point, the sea calms, and it's smooth sailing again for awhile.
But the most important thing I've learned, is that God is with me....through ALL of it. The storms, and the smooth sailing.
My prayer today is for all of the parents who have a child with special needs, and are about to enter into another (or especially their first) year of school. Remember that you are not alone. May God give you wisdom for making decisions for your child; give you the courage to send your kids to school with faith; give you strength to weather any storms that come your way; and for God's wonderful grace.
"Jesus is the same yesterday and today, and forever." ~ Hebrews 13:8.