A BIG SIGH of relief …

I woke up this morning feeling something I hadn’t in a very long time. RELAXED. Sidney has been home from college for about a month now. George graduated from high school last night. Libs and Reese have their last day of school today. Our absolutely exhausting, unpredictable, and stressful school year is OVER. There were many times when I wondered if we were going to make it out of this one unscathed by our circumstances. It was a tough one. This past week one particularly memory has come to mind time and time again.

I was just recently out of the hospital. On top of everything else my vision was terrible even with my glasses on. Between the medications and being so sick everything was just a blur. But there George and I were, sitting in front of his computer finishing up his college applications. I remember thinking HOW? How exactly are we going to get from HERE to THERE? And what if we didn’t? The worry was incredible. So much “hinged on” those applications. Too much to even imagine the loss. He needed my guidance. He needed my help. No excuse was good enough. It all had to get done and it had to get done then. His future wasn’t going to wait for me to feel better and for me to see clearly again. So we did what we had to do and got them done despite our obstacles.

And here we are. Many months later. Sid home for summer and soon to be entering her Junior year in college. Libs with a Distinguished Scholar Award for keeping a 4.0 her Freshman year. My Reese thriving and ready to take on 2nd Grade. And George, a high school graduate leaving for college in just two short months. I can’t believe we got from THERE to HERE. Their resilience amazes me. They persisted and it all paid off. We made it. THEY made it.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you breathe a BIG SIGH of relief!!!

A chocolate chip …

I have mentioned before these Reese’s biggest delays are in her oral motor development. It’s common among people with Down Syndrome and speech therapy works wonders for them. Reese still only speaks minimally and when she does speak she is often hard to understand. Her family, teachers and caregivers understand her but most everyone else would have a difficult time. This means I have to trust that the people I leave her with will take the time and make the effort to figure out what she needs when she is distressed. Reese also does not chew. She is a choking hazard. All day, every day. Awake or asleep. If this isn’t enough to keep a mother from ever sleeping soundly at night, I don’t know what is. Again. I must trust the people I leave her with to make sure she is safe. That she is watched around food at all times. And that she isn’t forced to eat something that she can’t. It’s terrifying to think of the consequences. Terrifying. Especially on days when I go to clean out her lunchbox and find a chocolate chip.

A chocolate chip.

To most of us when we see a chocolate chip we think YUM. Or SWEET. Or COOKIE. And I admit, I am one of those people.

But Reese, is not.

To her, an innocent chocolate chip is something that could potentially harm her. It is anxiety provoking. It is not a treat. It is a threat to her well-being.

I don’t normally focus on Reese’s delays. To me she is developing just the way God intended. She is capable. She is smart. She is loving. And so so silly. I think she teaches me more than I teach her. She reminds me to slow down. To stay in the moment. That life is precious. Every. Moment. She is a gift. She is a joy. MY JOY. And I love her fiercely. 

Whether you have a typical child or a child with special needs, parenting is not for the faint of heart. There are days when I feel like a warrior for my children. I would walk through fire for them. Literally. Loving them has given me a strength I never knew I had. An invincibility and fearlessness allowing me to protect them against any concern that comes their way. And yet, there are those days when I find myself reduced to tears by a single chocolate chip.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you don’t worry!!!

Alike …

This morning as I walked Reese into school she was hopping over all the painted lines on the ground. She was carefully timing her steps and was jumping and having a great time. Boy oh boy, that took me back! I did the same thing when I was a kid. Reese also loves to twirl around. I could do that for hours! She and I are so similar when it comes to childlike play. I didn’t notice this as much with my older kids. They played differently. But Reese and my 7-year old self are like reflections in a mirror. This totally warms my heart. She had me smiling ear-to-ear watching her this morning and I said to her cheerfully, “You’re just like mommy!”

And then it happened.

She said … NO. With the expression of a HECK NO. 

Oh goodness. This child just tells you how she sees it. She’s very matter-of-fact in her delivery and expresses exactly how she feels. I hate to tell her … but that is also just like her mommy. HA!

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are ALIKE!!!

Back at it … 

It’s Monday. But not just any regular Monday. It’s the Monday after a holiday AND after my kids have had over a week off from school. Plus we are entering a performance week. I am not sure if that means the same thing for all performers. But for us, it means rehearsals late into the night for three nights and then performances for another three. Not to mention, ya know, school … and life. This week is going to be ugly for all of us.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are back at it!!!

Covered in mud …

Reese has always loved school. She loves learning and playing with all her friends. Most days when I pick her up she is friendly, giggly and smiling. But then there are those days when I am absolutely positive that she had a better day than normal.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are covered in mud!!!

My reputation precedes me …

Today was Reese’s first day of first grade. I have to say that it went pretty well. I was a little concerned because I had some serious issues last year. I won’t get into ALL the details but student drop-off and pick-up was a BIG one. Oddly, there has never been a safe curbside area for Special Day Class (SDC) students who are not bused to and from school. We have to park, if there is any parking available, and walk through the small war zone of a parking lot. Seriously, it’s scary. Reese is so frightened that she has me carry her the whole way all the while burrowing her head into my neck.

There is a HUGE valet area for the typical students and a smaller one for the SDC students who are bused. But nothing for us and it just wasn’t right. I brought this to the attention of the principal last year after being yelled at one to many times by a teacher for trying to drop Reese off at curbside. The principal, admitted that no one had ever thought of providing an area. My reaction: WOW. Be it the loudmouth social worker to draw attention to something so … um … BASIC. How is it that in all the years this school has been an SDC site no one has ever thought that providing a safe ACCESS TO EDUCATION is just as important to the student as the education itself?!?! Good grief. Anyway, the principal spent the better part of the year trying to figure it all out at the district level with my incessant urging. We left school for the summer with me being told that the parking lot would be reworked over the summer to accommodate an increase in students as well as my concerns for a safe curbside area for SDC students who weren’t bused.

Well … that didn’t happen. Go figure.

Reese and I arrived very early to school this morning to find that they had repaved and painted the parking lot. BIG SIGH. I was utterly disappointed. But then something happened. I was met by a woman at curbside with whom I was unfamiliar. I asked her if she knew if an area had been designated for SDC students being dropped off. Her reply: ARE YOU MRS. HENRY? I was taken back since I had no clue who she was. I replied, “Yes.” She said, “Hi, I’m with the district and we are out here helping today, you can pull up right here”. And she motioned to the area right in front of where the buses drop off the other SDC students. I couldn’t contain the humor I saw in the whole scenario and literally cracked the heck up … and happily dropped Reese off safely at curbside. BIG HUGE SMILE.

Well, I hope you all have a day where your reputation precedes you!!!