This post is dedicated to all the moms out there who are spending the day in my shoes today…….if it started out sad, I hope it gets brighter.
Today I was up at 5 am. Nothing unusual there, we are early risers. Only, today was very dark, very cloudy and pouring down rain. For the most part though, any other day. Except, right around 7 am it started. First, the big yellow buses started rolling down my street. I sat down to enjoy my morning coffee, and as usual, catch up on Facebook. Today is the first day of school for many school districts across the country, including for many of my Facebook friends, both near and far. And then the tears started……
Because today should be K’s first day of kindergarten. I should be happily posting photos of my child, the anxious look on his face as he waits for his first bus ride on a big yellow bus. Just like all my friends are posting. I want so desperately to be a part of that. I want my tears to be happy tears, experiencing only the sorrow of them growing up. Not the feeling of panic of “there’s only 15 years left to educate him in the system and make him independent.” But there is no joyous first day with a big yellow bus for us. In a few days when he does start at his new placement, it will be the usual special needs van that comes to get him. And he’ll sit on the van, with his peers with special needs, and probably much like the previous three years, there will be no social interaction. No sharing lunches, no sharing toys or giggles….just trekking to a placement 45 minutes from home, because his needs are so complex that is the closest place that is appropriate for him.
It’s a heavy feeling, as I’m sure many of you special needs moms know…that clouds some days in August. Because there is no fun “Sneak a Peek” event for us. Our first day of school isn’t preceded by shopping for new lunch boxes and crayons…it’s preceded by months of haggling with your district over where your child will be placed. In fact, on my agenda today was to complete my Parent Letter of Attachment for the NOREP and take it over to the district special ed office. Good times, huh? Well, gotta play the cards you’re dealt, even when it sucks. Today is one of the days that it sucks.
Around 10 am, the rain stopped, the clouds lifted and the sun came out. It was almost as if the universe was telling me to quit feeling sorry for myself. So I did. We got dressed, went and handed in the NOREP and went to McDonald’s for lunch. Not feeling 100% myself yet and wanting to waste some time, I decided to go to a McDonald’s further away, where I very likely had the chance of running into another special needs mom. I wanted someone to commiserate with (sort of how I ended up here, lol). She wasn’t there, so we ate our Happy Meals and went home.
I had a message from her–you know what she is doing today? Taking her child with special needs to his first day of college. Yep, regular college with typical peers (he’ll have supports). Now that really makes me smile…because this family has had many struggles too…and now their cloud has lifted and he is in college. If/when we get there, that will definitely be a first day of school with lots of tears, the good kind!
**Please don’t feel sorry for me, and please please please….if you are one of my friends that did have a child go to regular school today and you did post pictures, please know that I want you to continue to do so. This post is for the special needs moms out there, as a reminder that we are not alone in this, even when it feels that way sometimes. In no way do I want to diminish your happiness and your entitlement to celebrate life’s little accomplishments.