Happy first day of school, Zion!

I hardly can believe I’m saying it, and I will probably cry about fifteen times during the course of typing this, but this morning, zion got up, put on his new red backpack and we took him to school for the very first time. All five of us held hands and walked into the therapeutic special needs school, into a classroom with little ones who are just like him, and gave him hugs and said goodbye for the day. If you have been following this journey, you know what a huge and miraculous and incredible thing this is. As of just a couple of months ago, we had been told that he needed the therapies and interventions of this school to help with his many ongoing needs. The next two years in this school would help continue to care for his CP, his developmental delays, and his medical needs in a way that will hopefully get him ready to be in a real elementary school classroom someday.

the only problem: the cost is high and we don’t have the means to send him. Or we didn’t, until you came into the story. Over the course of the past month, we have been blown away to see that person after person – friends and strangers alike – have come out of the woodwork to give to our family so that zion can attend this school and get the care he needs and deserves. Although we don’t have all the funds needed for the next two years at this school, we have enough for him to start part-time now and there was an opening in a classroom this month so we took the leap.

This is a really happy day. I keep telling myself that. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the breeze is rustling the trees. This is not a day for tears, and yet I can’t stop crying. His teacher offered for me to be able to stay at the school for awhile this morning and watch how he did from the observation room. I was so happy and agreed, but quickly realized I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

This is my baby. This is my youngest son who I held when he was three pounds, and now he’s three years old. This is the love of my life who I have held in hospital rooms and hugged when he’s sad. This is the baby I did CPR on in the back of a van speeding through stoplights on the way to a hospital because he wasn’t breathing. This is the child who I have had to restrain and be a human straight jacket for, because of his epic tantrums and serious sensory needs (yup, parenting a special needs child is really messy sometimes). This is the little one who just recently started to put words together, and some of the ones he says to me the most are, “i need hug.” his laughter is my oxygen, and his scent is my drug. He is light and life and power and presence of God to me and to our family. I don’t want to sacrifice a single minute with him.

And yet, I know I am out of my league here. There are things zion needs that we just can’t give him. We don’t have the training, the equipment, the expertise to give him. Yes, I believe fully that God equipped us to be his one and only family, and for me to be his mom. But now, because of this school, I get to just be his mom. Not also his teacher, therapist, and behavioral psychologist. I am mommy, and he is my baby.

I ended up sitting in the observation room doing an ugly cry. In one breath, I was thanking God that you dear hearts have been so generous to our family and given us a grace gift we do not deserve and could never earn. In another breath, I was hurting over our little baby going into a big world without me to hold his hand for the very first time. “why is that little kid trying to steal zion’s backpack?!” “why is the teacher pronouncing his name like that?” [sidenote, for anyone who has ever wondered, it’s pronounced zion, like lion with a z.] “why are they making him drink milk? I should have told them he doesn’t drink milk..” “what if he falls backwards on his shunt in that chair while no ones watching?” I eventually, wiped my tears away, turned the sound off, and left the school. This is where he is supposed to be, and two days a week, I am going to have to let go and trust that he will be ok.

I went to the Y, and had a moment in my turbo kick class – unlikely place for a revelation – where the Spirit spoke to my heart reminding me, “I’ve got this. I’ve been the one holding zion together since day one, not you. trust me.” I saw my friend, Jessi, right afterwards. I cried again. And then she – a former special education teacher, and one of the smartest people on the planet – reminded me: “you are a good mama. early intervention is crucial. It’s proven by research to be so beneficial. you made the right choice.”

I needed to hear that. So I cried some more on the way home and now shed a few more tears on our porch as I tell you this – thank you. from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. For all you’ve given so far, for the love and compassion you have showed us, and for continuing to hold us in your prayers as we go forward.

happy first day of school, baby zion. mommy loves you, and I can’t wait to give you a hug after school is over.

show hide 3 comments

Laurisa ballew Hello!! My name is Laurisa and I write about our journey with our special needs daughter Emmaus. Emmaus went to TLC until July 10th. I too ugly cried on her first day, as well as her last. My friend told me about your blog. I hope your experience there is as wonderful as ours was. We are sad to leave but are now receiving services in our district since she is three- and you and I both know how crazy expensive it is! Love your blog! Zion is a name we love and will consider if God every blesses us with a son!August 1, 2014 – 10:00 pm

Katie Peters Happy first day at school Zion! I could feel every word Ash. Sending you lots of love to you and your family on this special day xJune 25, 2014 – 12:31 am

Dev And now I’m doing an ugly cry. I love you. You’re the best mom.June 24, 2014 – 5:57 pm

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