It’s 5:15 am when the alarm goes off, chasing off the last remnants of a beautiful dream of walking on warm summer sands in the light of a glowing sunset. And just like that,
Summer. Is. Over.
My eyes strain to focus on the ceiling above as I fight an urge to pull the sheets back over my head. But no, I must get up! I must get up because… it’s time for school again!
I imagine other mothers having a secret delight in packing the kids off to school. I roll over in bed (just five more minutes!!) and think of what their days must be like. Coffee dates at Starbucks. Long lunches with old friends. Pedicures and spa sessions. Sigh.
Not so for the special needs mom! She will struggle over every detail of her child’s day. She will label each pencil, each crayon box and every pair of underwear. She has devised a color-coded system for each subject, with matched folders, composition books and markers.
“The GREEN folder is for MATH,
and your calculator is GREEN, too, see???”
The special needs parent has created a mock floor plan of the school ahead of time to go over each turn to make sure her child knows her surroundings.
“No, Janey, that room is the principal’s office. The bathroom will be over here!”
A special need mom plans for lunches well in advance. She has mapped out a strategy for her child’s special dietary concerns:
“You say Fridays are Popcorn Days? I think not! Corn allergies, you know! But no worries, I’ll bring in a case of rice cakes as an alternative. And maybe some gluten free pretzels, too!”
A special needs parent has gone over countless social scenarios with her child, role-playing so that her child will be prepared for interaction with peers:
“Okay, Alec, burping out loud in class… Cool or not cool?” To which Alec rolls his eyes and answers once again, “Not cool, Mom… I’ve got it, okay?”
A special needs parent has gone the extra mile to provide classroom support. She works hard at home and volunteers for the school whenever needed:
“So, you want me to take home these 500 photos of vegetables, separate, color and laminate each one, and then return them tomorrow for Health and PE Bingo Day? Sure! Consider it done, Ms. Whittaker!”
And so it goes for the special needs parent. We so want to let our kiddos go, to grow up and fly on their own wings, but we struggle to do it.
So we worry and we strategize. We hug. We stress and we cry. But most of all: we pray.
When this first day is over and our children have returned home, when the huge stack of forms have been completed and signed, when half-eaten lunches have been unpacked and dirty faces washed, only then we will climb back into bed and pull the covers over our head.
Hopefully, lying there in the dark, we’ll manage to laugh a little about all of the craziness of being a special needs parent.
Just before we drift off to a much deserved sleep, we’ll thank God that He has promised to never leave our children alone. That when they go off to school tomorrow, they’ll go with Him.
And maybe, if we are really quiet, we’ll hear the Father whisper softly into our ear as sleep finally finds us,
“Sleep, My Child. I am standing watch over you.
Rest now, for I Am with you.”
The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
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