My Facebook feed is filled with photos of children heading back to school, their eyes brightly filled with nervous anticipation. Next week, I'll post some back to school photos too. Jelly will be starting first grade. I can hardly believe it.
But Moe, once again, will not be starting school. Not traditional school anyway, the kind with backpacks and lunch boxes and newly decorated classrooms. Moe will, for now, continue to be homeschooled. And even if it is the right thing for him, it hurts.
While most parents of special needs kids learn to ignore milestones, to accept their children exactly as they are and celebrate progress whenever and however it comes, there are still those things that are bigger reminders. As if we could forget.
It might be the holidays, surrounded by family or friends whose kids are striding forward just as everyone expected them to. Maybe it's birthdays that unglue you, forced to face a new number, another year of nowhere near where you thought they'd be. Maybe it's summer break, watching kids go off to camp and family holidays, knowing you're unlikely to ever take a real family vacation again.
It's all hard, but for me, back to school time is especially rough. Facebook is filled all at once with photos of every kid I met in the early days of motherhood, through babyhood and first steps and mommy and me classes. How big they are! How far they've come! Third grade already. Happy to get the teacher they wanted. Happy to see friends. Happy.
And we, once again, are faced with choices, risk in all of them. Send him back to a public school that isn't able to serve him well? Fight for placement, knowing that it would be better than what the public school would offer but unsure if it would be better than what we're doing at home? We're doing the work to figure that out, and we will. But it isn't the problem I want to be solving.
I want to be helping Moe with friends and homework and auditioning for the school play. I feel bad that I can't give him those things. I feel bad that I can't take away his frustration and anger and anxiety. And mostly that I brought him into a world that is not set up for him, and for not knowing how to help him get set up for the world as it is.