Friday, April 25, 2014

Uniquely Gifted

I’m working through something difficult right now. I need to determine where my son with autism will start his high school career. I need to make the call on two options for what kind of learning environment he will begin next year with. And the decision rests with me alone.

That had me really down yesterday. I should say that I’ve always been the one who meets with his teachers and therapists. I’m the one who goes to the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings to find out how he’s functioning in school and help determine what kind of support he needs. I’m the one who has done the research on his rights in the public school setting. I’m the one who gathered information and have been since he was two years old and we discovered he was different.

But after I had the information, I had a husband who listened. We’d discuss what I learned and what I heard at meetings and we’d decide together what the best course of action for Ryan was. Most of the time, Kraig would follow my lead, trusting my research and instincts. I’d made myself the expert on Ryan’s special needs. But sometimes he would disagree and I valued his wisdom and input.

Yesterday I was close to tears because that input is gone. He’s in heaven and I’m still here.

I thought I had the best choice ready for Ryan. I’ve got a meeting coming up where we finalize those plans and his schedule for next year. And then I spoke with one of his teachers. Audra is a wonderful woman who pushes Ryan, sometimes to tears, telling him, “I want you to be the best Ryan you can be.” I value her input. And her initial take on my choices was the other one, the one I hadn’t chosen.

I drove away thinking about this and I was scared. What am I going to do? Time is running out and if I choose wrong, the worst case scenario of either will be a) he’s not challenged enough and he loses progress we’ve made OR b) I place him in a stressful environment that frustrates him and sets him back. And then a song came on. It’s one I’ve always loved: Jason Gray’s Remind Me of Who I Am.
When I lose my way, And I forget my name,
Remind me who I am.
In the mirror all I see, Is who I don't wanna be,
Remind me who I am.
In the loneliest places, When I can't remember what grace is.
Tell me, once again, who I am to You

As I listened to the lyrics of this song, words flowed into my heart as clear as a bell. Not the lyrics this time but words I have encouraged moms with for years. They are my words: “I believe you are uniquely gifted to be the best mom for the children God gave YOU.” I AM uniquely gifted to be the best mom for Ryan. I can do this.

The panic evaporated and the peace replaced it; I came up with a plan. I would seek wise counsel from the regular education teachers who work with him daily. I would weigh the benefits and then choose what I feel is best for Ryan. And then I will monitor it closely, keeping in contact with his teachers next year to make sure whatever choice I go with is helping him be the best Ryan he can be.

Whether you are a mom or dad to a special needs child struggling to make choices you never dreamed of or the parent of neuro-typical kid struggling at a crossroads, let me be your cheerleader. YOU are uniquely equipped to be the BEST mom or dad for this child.

Of all the mommies and daddies possible YOU are the parent God in Heaven, Creator of this child, chose for this child. It may be hard. At times you may want to take the easier path because you are just tired. I get that. Parenting is exhausting. But don’t choose the easy path—choose the best path. Wrestle with the options. Be consistent day in and day out. Ask the God who gave you this child to help you rise to the challenge. You can do this. I can do this.

We are uniquely gifted to be the best parents our children deserve when we trust God and don't give up. It is worth it.

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