Monday, August 21, 2017

Confession: I didn't do my summer to-do's

“…for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning;”
Lamentations 3:22b-23a, NIV

The first day of summer break I was optimistic and inspired. I had a long to-do list for my son with special needs. We were going to find various new specialists, therapists, do an “intensive” or two, and end the summer with an enhanced boy and a momma whose list was all checked-off. I envisioned the first day of school a triumphant return for both of us.

I should have tempered my enthusiasm a bit. My son is 17, we’ve done summer before.  And despite my enthusiasm, this one turned out like many of our previous summers. Have you ever felt like you are not doing nearly enough? Surely all the other special needs moms are getting it ALL done, right?

I decided I would share my summer to-do fail with you, and then I’ll burn the whole list! Because lamenting what I have not done isn’t going to help me. And focusing on what we didn’t do, or have, or find, is not what will lead us into a successful Fall. My un-checked items include: Find an ABA therapist (which we got a prescription for in February and I just got my fourth rejection); Go to the beach a lot (haven’t been once since summer started); Get an appointment with ___________  (fill in the blank, he needs about 4 different specialist check-ups at this point).   

I can’t even type all of those without getting a knot in my stomach and having to shut down some pretty harsh self-talk. I find that I review the list often, and almost never do I visit all the great things we did this summer. I guess that’s the special parent dilemma: There is always something ELSE that we could be doing or finding to help our child. The more complex the special needs, the greater the myriad of new specialists, services or medicines that one could be researching. It’s never-ending and definitely overwhelming. 

Let’s start school by congratulating ourselves for starting school. Seriously! If your child is going to attend a school (or homeschool) great job! Just that has taken a lot more work for you than for parents of typical children. You survived IEP meetings and new teachers and questionnaires and re-shuffled therapy schedules, etc. And while we’re patting ourselves on the back, you survived summer! Hooray! Making it through a long string of days where schedules are off, sleep patterns are different, food is not routine, therapists are on vacation, and rain (or heat) change plan: that is not for the weak or frail. 

I’ve decided not to focus on my still-pending items, but rather on the positive aspects of summer and starting another year of school. Maybe I won’t burn the list, I’ll scoot it over to my Fall to-do items, and give myself a few more months to get them all done. Whether or not you got everything done this summer, feel free to enter the school year at peace, with positive thoughts about yourself, your parenting, and the new season. We all made it through summer, and thankfully we are entering a new school year. This time I am vowing to NOT place any new or unrealistic expectations on either my son or myself. That way my perfectionism will have nothing to criticize me about. Yes, we’ll keep plugging away at doing special needs life, but enjoying it along the way.   

An end-of-summer prayer:  Thank you Heavenly Father, that your compassion toward me is new each morning. Help me to see and feel that you are pleased with me, and not look back on anything I haven’t accomplished with regret. Let me instead look forward to your grace and mercy. Enable me to greet this new school year with strength and a positive outlook for myself and for my child(ren). Bless this school year, protect my child, and keep me in your will as their mom, following the steps that you have ordered for us.

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