I sat on my bed hustling through Gia’s Kindergarten registration packet – parent’s names, child’s name, address, phone number, etc. etc., same old same old…let’s get through this.
Then it came. There it was.
This page wasn’t supposed to apply to me. This wasn’t supposed to be my life. This was other parents. This was other kids. Not me. Not my child.
But it was me. It was my child. It just didn’t feel real.
I’ve had a year and a half to get ready for this moment, but I wasn’t ready. I accepted this reality a long time ago. So why did this feel so new? I felt the same punch in the stomach I did when I found out Gia had apraxia. That same rush of feelings went straight to my gut.
So next to Special Education Services, I set the ball of my pen in the “yes” box. I think I held it there for a full minute. I made my checkmark and burst in to tears. I didn’t just cry, I sobbed.
My husband, Jeff looked up from his desk, “What’s wrong??”. I could barely talk when I looked over at him to respond. I finally got out the three short words that summed up my tears, “It’s just surreal”.
Jeff likes logic. He’s a big picture kind of guy. He likes to fix. You have a problem? Well he has your solution. So he did what he does best and tried to help me through my feelings the only way he knew how. It felt like a math equation – this plus this equals the reason you’re feeling this. So I stopped him. “This is not what I need, Jeff.” I cried. “I just need like 10 minutes to just cry. That’s all I need. I just need to cry, Jeff. Please just let me cry!”
My son walked in to ask his daddy something. I held my breath, looked down and covered my face with my shirt. My husband lead himself and Nicholas out of the bedroom and shut the door behind them. He could see it wasn’t time for solutions. So he gave me what I asked for – he gave me my 10 minutes.
I got under my covers and let it all out.
I cried and I cried and I cried…for about 10 minutes. My tears turned in to sniffles and my sniffles turned in to a blank stare at the ceiling.
There was part of me that wanted to call Jeff back in to hear his math equation – maybe he could fix me.
There was part of me that wanted to call my mom and ask for her words of wisdom – maybe even cry some more.
There was part of me that wanted to call my sister for her empathetic ear – maybe she’ll cry some more with me.
But no. Not this time. How could I possibly explain this ridiculously weak moment? I didn’t understand it myself. It was far too deep for Jeff’s Math, too complicated for my mom’s wisdom and too confusing for my sister’s empathy.
I’ll just have to figure this one out on my own.
Checking that “yes” box brought me all the way back to phase one of apraxia grief – the darkest and loneliest phase of them all. The questions of the future, the fears of the unknown – it was all back. The wound reopened. It was a pain I didn’t ever want to feel again, and didn’t expect to. I was at least two phases past this.
But here we are…the future has officially begun, and the unknown is starring me square in the face. The real worries of apraxia begin on that first day of school.
What will apraxia mean for Gia? Which apraxia recovery story will she be? Will she be the one that graduates from speech at 5 years old, excelling in school without a hint of disability? Will she be the teenager still in therapy, and struggling with dyslexia to boot? Or one of the many scenarios in between?
I don’t know. I hate not knowing. I’m not good with the not knowing.
Come July 25th, I have no choice but to let her fly on her own. But what will she do without me?
Then I look at my daughter and I ask myself, “Does she look worried?”
No. Not at all. She looks ready to take on the world. She’s beaming with confidence and I’ve never felt more vulnerable in my life. She’s as independent as they come and I feel completely out of control.
Maybe the real question should be…what will I do without her?
I’ve spent so much time building Gia’s wings, never realizing that I was going to need wings of my own.
The next day…
I approached my son, “Guess what, Nicholas?! You and Gia are going to be in the same school next year!”
“What? Really?” he replies.
“Yes! Really! Isn’t that exciting guy!” I said
Concerned he says, “Well…I guess…”
I look at him puzzled, “What’s wrong, Nick? Why do you look sad about it?”
His voice starts to crack, “I don’t know…it’s just…is her teacher going to be able to understand her, mom?”
I smirk a little, “Her teacher will know she has a problem with her speech, Nick. She’ll know that she has to be patient with Gia’s words.”
His eyes well up, “What does she do if the teacher doesn’t understand her? I just don’t get that, mom. How is she gonna learn things? How is she gonna make friends?”
I tried again, “Nicholas, you don’t have to worry about all of this. Gia will be fine. Her teacher will make adjustments for her when she needs to. She can learn the same as the rest of the kids. And Gia has no problem making friends. She’ll be fine.”
He bursts in to tears, “Adjustments?? What does that even mean?? I just don’t get this, mom! Her words are too funny to go to school!”
And then it hit me…
It wasn’t time for solutions.
He didn’t want me to fix it.
So I walked out of the room…
And gave him his 10 minutes.