I’ve been feeling the pull to return to blogging this year. Not so much a resolution as something I’ve felt “missing” from the day-to-day. I can’t really explain why aside from the fact that I miss having words to go with my memories. I miss thinking “That was a good day.” and being able to flip to a summary. Oddly enough I miss thinking “Oh! I’ve struggled with this before… hmm… how did I handle it last time?” and being able to look back on my own thoughts on a similar situation.
The final push for me came when Alyssa’s annual IEP rolled around. There were years in the past where I hyper-focused on it for weeks as it approached. There were years when I went into it knowing it would be an uphill battle. This year I did a great job of ignoring it… until last Friday. Considering it is being held tomorrow morning? I’d call that progress.
When I hit the emotional lull about it… I pulled up the blog post I’d written when I felt similarly in the past. I know that IEPs are a necessary evil, I know they dictate nothing of who my child is, and I know they’ll be in our lives as long as Alyssa is in school. These aren’t new facts. However, they for some reason seem far less emotional than they actually play out… or at least they have in the past.
This year? I took a day. I took Friday to be exact. I let myself be sad. I let myself process through the “whatsheisntitis.” I let myself get wrapped up in the process. Then? I took the weekend and I made it the best I possibly could. We spent the majority of it with Dawn, Jay and their kiddos. We laughed, we snuggled, and we all in all had a pretty amazing, albeit laid back, weekend.
When we came home this evening, after an early dinner at Dawn’s, Neil and I popped a movie on Netflix. I decided I wanted to give Alyssa a bit of extra TLC. I gave her a massage, painted her bitty toenails, and put her hair up in rag curlers in preparation for tomorrow. I savored the fact that despite all the surface “difference” that others may see… she’s a pretty typical kiddo in the way sh loves being the center of attention.
As I tucked her in for the evening I decided to read her the little book “Who is Coming?” that the speech pathologist at the NICU gave us when she was so very tiny. It was perfect. As I read I was taken back to a time of such uncertainty… I remember so vividly… Neil and I huddled around her isolette reading in unison to her as she fought so hard to come home. It was that memory that resonated with me this evening. It resonated so strongly because in those moments? We had no knowledge of what the next step was. It was a much needed reminder that, although we all like to feel otherwise, we never have full control. I kissed her little mouth and told her I was so proud of the wonderful girl she’d grown into. I told her I was so very proud of her. I asked her if she knew what proud meant… and she rolled her eyes and smiled. Of course that kiddo knows what proud means. She makes us proud every day.
Once I got her in bed I opened the IEP and I began crying before even reading the first word. Neil reassured me that it was OK to cry. As I read through it I continued to cry. Neil and I discussed how it didn’t change who she was and how as big of a challenge as it is for others to grasp at times… we are so truly grateful for the person Alyssa is. I was texting with Dawn and talking to Neil and just trying to somewhat disconnect from the words on the paper.
Then? It hit me. Disconnecting was what it was all about. I don’t mean disconnecting in a denial sort of way. Heaven knows I’m way past denial at this point. LOL! I mean disconnecting in a way that the words on these papers don’t define who Alyssa is any more than a movie synopsis tells the whole story. These words are tiny fragments of who she is. These words are the part of who she is that strangers who may never meet her need to have in front of them so that they understand why she needs services. These words, as bleak and negative as they may need to be, simply serve the purpose of getting her to the proper class setting. These words serve a purpose but their purpose is not to fully explain everything about Alyssa. There simply isn’t enough paper for that.😉
All of that to say…we are ready for the IEP. We are ready to take our one day of “yuck” so that we can embrace the next 364 without giving it a second thought. I may get to that meeting tomorrow and have a picture painted of a little girl who isn’t at all like her peers. However, that won’t have changed the fact that I sent the little girl who lights up my world off to school just moments before. I will walk into that meeting full of gratitude that Alyssa is who she is… and I’m fairly confident the others in the meeting will do the same.❤