About 25 years ago, my first child started going to school. That first week was brutal. I had to get up, and out of the house every single day; five days a week! I had not done that since I was in school. This was so much more work! Not only did I need to get my own stuff together to get out the door on time, but I had the challenge of getting a five year old and a two year old up, fed, dressed, and out the door by 8am! I soon realized that my daily routine would “forever” be on a schedule set for me by my kids’ lives.
When you have four kids, it is easy to feel like life is so busy, and you feel like life is never going to change. Obviously your kids get older, and they grow to like different activities, so schedules change. What is hard to grasp during all these growing years is that one day, those busy schedules will not fall into your lap. At some point, your kids grow up, get a job, no longer need you to be their chauffer, and you no longer have to have your life revolve around their activities.
When one of your children, however, has a learning delay and/or a medical disability, those responsibilities linger on for a few more years. My youngest daughter, Bella is one of those extra special kids. Last school year, she finished up an adult transitional school. The school kept her busy. She had a schedule to follow five days a week, and it was fantastic.
This school year, fall of 2018 is quite different from any fall I have had in two and a half decades. None of my children started a new school year. As children in our neighborhood meet at the bus stop, I am filled with a mixture of emotions. I am sad that I do not have new teachers to meet. I am happy for the freedom of not having to follow the school’s calendar. I am fearful of the unknown future for Bella, and I am excited for that very same future.
The pride I feel when I talk with Bella is immeasurable. Her dad and I both have a pretty strong work ethic, as do her older sisters. It should not surprise me that Bella has also been blessed with this drive. She gets bored if she does not have anywhere to go, and she is not afraid to make her own plans. Bella found a neighbor to teach her piano lessons. She has become comfortable using public transportation, and she sets her own dentist and hair appointments.
Somehow, as this year has approached, the first year that I would have no children beginning a new school year, I thought that I would have a difficult time with the transition. I am surprised at myself. I am very content with this transition. Perhaps it is the joy we are all feeling as my oldest daughter, Mal is preparing to become a mother that is keeping me sane. The delight in watching all four of my daughters remain so close as they pave their own paths into adulthood is amazing. Ang, Cass, and Bella are ecstatic about becoming aunts.
Perhaps, though, watching Bella grow a true sense of purpose is a big part of my contentment. She is proud of her volunteer work, she is proud of her piano playing, and she is proud of being able to make appointments, and get herself to them. The satisfaction we all feel at making a plan and following it through is an important part of life. As difficult as it is to let our children go, it is so important for them to have a reason for being. It was easier to let my oldest three do these things. I am relieved that I have been able to let go, and to let Bella begin to grow into the adult she is becoming. Epilepsy and the medications that go along with it can be debilitating at times. Today, at this very moment, I am feeling relieved, confident, and fulfilled. I am so thankful for the seizure control we currently have so that Bella can step into adulthood with her chin held high and with dreams and goals like all young adults should have.
I wish the best of luck to all the children (and their parents) as they endeavor upon this new school year. Cherish these moments because, I promise you, they will not last forever.