she smiles when she thinks about the future.
What fun to see the "first day of school" pictures friends are sharing in abundance on the internet! My heart smiles as I see friends getting their precious children settled either in new schools, a new grade, or even their very first step into a classroom for the beginning of their academic journey.
I remember how nerve-wracking it used to be, anxiously doing all of the shopping, wondering who would be teaching my child or in their class that year.
It was especially stressful when one of the children would begin attending a new school and new staff would have to be trained on health or psycho-social concerns. I would end up with such a headache, feeling completely exhausted after trying to compress the most important details for staff into a brief meeting. And once the children were settled into school, I began to develop almost PTSD-like angst every time the school's phone number would appear on Caller ID.
One year, they had barely started school when all 3 of them had caught head lice from someone. Besides being immensely grossed-out, there was the humiliation of having 2 school district nurses show up at our house to examine the kids. They had to remain home until we got an all-clear from the doctor. I would just sob at the short and shaved hair styles, constant treating and picking through each ones head, endless laundry, and keeping up with their school work outside of school. It was horrible.
When your kids are young, it takes time to get your "sea legs" and develop a comfort level with getting them situated in school. These passing situations feel like they last an eternity. But they don't. The good news is that it does get easier.
I love today's Bible verse because it describes what we can develop over the years of parenting a child with special needs or chronic illness. We gain strength as the fear of the unknown dissipates. We see what is coming ahead and we know what to expect, even anticipating the unexpected. We become stronger as we gain confidence, realizing that we know our child best, and we, the parents, are essential parts of the educational and health teams.
We learn to protect our child's dignity, our family's dignity as we set expectations and boundaries with those who we entrust with our child's education. That adds to our strength and confidence, removing much fear. It allows us to dream about the future with a smile on our face, knowing many of these things are just a passing phase. Special needs no longer robs us of our ability to look forward to the days ahead with joyful expectation, because we begin to make it through the other side of difficult situations.
While there are still bumps in the road for my family, I am feeling joyful and calm about my son's first year of high school. I know the staff there has afforded our daughter with joint troubles the dignity of accommodation when it comes to physical education classes. I don't have that fear of the unknown, because I know the school has served our daughter well, and I am sure it will our son. Meanwhile, as we are coming off of 2 consecutive tough years with our youngest at the middle school, we know many of the staff members there with whom we will be forging this year's pathway. Furthermore, we have a contingency plan in case we have another tough year. All of this adds to our strength and dignity, removing fear, helping us to look forward to the future with a smile.
Be encouraged parents! If you are not there yet, take heart knowing that there IS light at the end of the tunnel. Over time, getting our children settled back into school becomes more manageable.
PRAY: LORD, some days feel like forever when it comes to fighting for our children. Boost our confidence in knowing that we are competent when it comes to advocating for them and making wise decisions. Lift our heads, so we can see that each crisis or transition is only a season of the amazing life You have planned for our remarkable kids.
~ Barb Dittrich