It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

Another school break is just around the corner, and with that, are dreams of sleeping in, pool time, and some much-needed down time for a couple of weeks before Summer school begins. This year is no exception! I will pack Brian up this weekend for overnight camp that commences this Sunday for one week. This will be Brian’s 9th year at Camp Moore, a wonderful place with fabulous counselors who ensure that the children have the time of their lives- and they do! I am so grateful that Brian has this annual opportunity to go away, to be independent from Jim and I, and to interact/ socialize with other kids and adults. Overnight camp is a brief simulation of what it would be like for Brian to be on his own, which will eventually happen one day when Jim and I are no longer here. Personally, I’m glad that we decided to start sending Brian to overnight camp sooner versus later. If I had waited too long, I’m not sure if I would have sent Brian at all and that would not have been good for his independence or ours. Of course, having Camp Moore in such close proximity ( only 30 minutes away) is a huge help both physically and psychologically.

While Brian is away, I will have the chance to take some respite for myself, by spending time with my beloved airline friends. It will be a “gal pal laugh fest” for 5 whole days, even thinking about it now brings a huge smile to my face! This year, the friends are meeting in Michigan, which is home for 2 of our gal pals, who will be hosting the group. I feel so blessed to be able to get away for this time and quite frankly, I really need a break from care taking! Jim has been traveling frequently for work this year so far, so Brian and I have been mostly on our own during the week. Fortunately, Jim’s business travel is very minimal this Summer, so Brian and I will get to spend more time with him for a change! We will be taking a family vacation to Niagara Falls and the Jersey Shore in August that we very much look forward to. In the meantime, I can’t wait to take a break from all that entails special needs parenting next week. It’s funny how you appreciate even the little respite moments, like being driven by Uber to the airport, relaxing with a cup of coffee and a good book, or one of my all-time favorites : resting on the plane! I’m never able to fall asleep inflight, but I sure do know how to relax, especially once the main cabin door closes and the plane pushes back from the gate. Then you know that respite time has officially begun! Knowing that Brian is having fun at camp and is being well taken care of, enables me to relax and take good care of myself. Self care is good for the entire family, let’s face it: when Mom is happy, then everyone is happy! I know Jim and Brian would agree wholeheartedly! 😊👍🏻

Speaking about happy, another reason why I can go away with a smile on my face and a spring to my step, is because of Brian’s school. He had a great year and continues to make progress, slowly, but surely . The staff were outstanding and I continue to marvel at their persistence and patience with Brian in helping him to learn. I am so proud of Brian and deeply appreciate the staff’s hard work and the ongoing collaboration between home and school. It is certainly no easy feat: you can imagine how challenging it would be to teach special students, each one with multiple and often complex needs. The amount of effort, communication, and follow-up for each student, every day, is truly mind-blowing. Yet, Brian’s teacher and therapists made sure to listen to my concerns, requests, and more importantly, follow through with what was discussed. This really means a lot, for actions always speak louder than words, and this is exactly how progress is made.

One the hardest things for special children ( and the parents as well) to face at the end of the school year is the inevitable change in staff going forward. This is especially true when the staff has been the “right fit ” for your child. As a parent, you just want to keep this wonderful momentum of learning going! Change can be scary and is not always for the better. Like many other special families, we have also experienced some awful school years with staff that didn’t “get” Brian, or even worse, gave up on him all together. Of course, these past experiences come immediately to the forefront of my mind at the end of each school year. There is that sense of cautious optimism and the crossing of fingers that everything will work out fine, but you don’t really know for sure… I felt exactly the same way this year. When I found out that Brian would not have his current teacher again next year, I literally cried. She is such an exceptional teacher and I really wanted Brian to be in her class again. Those fears, that uncertainty, the starting all over again, the intense sadness- it’s like losing a good friend and this is what this experience was like for me. There is a silver lining to this story’s ending, however, and actually good reason to anticipate another great school year after all…

Although Brian will no longer have his beloved teacher, apparently the new teacher he will have is also terrific and well respected by colleagues and families alike. I’ve heard only great things from multiple sources and can now have peace of mind. Plus, Brian’s fabulous one-on-one side will go with him to the new classroom-that’s a huge relief too! Anticipation has replaced fear and hope springs eternal once again. I look forward to what lies ahead for Brian in the next school year. I have no doubt that I will continue to learn a lot myself along the way, not only from the staff entrusted to Brian’s care, but also from Brian himself. He is a Master Teacher in the subjects of love, perseverance, patience, and pure goodness.

Wishing you, Dear Reader, a Summer of peace, rest, and fun! These things are not easy to make time for when raising special children and often require a village in order for them to happen at all! As I get older, peace and rest, wherever or whenever I can get them, are no longer luxuries, but are rather absolute necessities. It’s too hard to cope with our full plates otherwise. May your mind, body, and spirit be renewed and refreshed during moments of respite and self care. Remember, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping anyone else! This is particularly fitting advice for my flight on Monday morning- once a flight attendant, always a flight attendant! ✈️ 👩‍✈️

Until we meet again, thanks for reading, and best wishes for a great Summer! ☀️ 🌊 🏖😊

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