Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Seasons of Motherhood

September has always been a "new year" of sorts to me, maybe because I work for the school system. New beginnings, new jobs, new teachers, new clothes...and with it some new decisions, resolutions, etc. I don't actually make New Year's resolutions in January. I end up making them in September. There's something about the weather becoming cool and leaves becoming golden that spurs me to make decisions, and this year was no different.

In the last few weeks I joined a gym and decided to exercise more. I also joined a knitting class, and plan to make a beautiful afghan. But most importantly, I applied to go back to college.

The college decision has been mulled around for the last year or two, but I finally got down to it yesterday. My plan is to completely , totally, change careers. I haven't told many people yet, but to those that know me, it may be a shock. I have worked with kids ever since I was 14, and so many people just assume that I will go in that direction. I won't. What I plan to do is a complete departure from what I am doing now.

Being the parent of a Special Needs child pushes many people to go into my profession, because they feel that they have a lot to share and can help children with the knowledge they gained from having one of their own. For me, however, the experience has had the opposite affect. For ten years, I was foster Mom to very dangerous, very high risk foster children. For almost 14, I have worked with some of the most difficult children in the districts that I lived in. And then for another 10 (almost 11), I have dealt with my own child's special needs. Every single day, for 14 years, 365 days a year, I have lived and worked with complicated children with special needs. Never really a break, never having time with just my husband, and neglecting my own needs. Caregiving. Constant caregiving. Caregiving to the point where when my own child suffered in school, I had to go to work every day and care for other people's kids. I'd come home and pick up the pieces for my own child, struggling to solve that puzzle as well. At times it broke my heart, and seemed so cruelly ironic.

As Kevin has gotten older, and things with him have finally settled, we're finally at peace. I'm finding that for once in my life I really want to do something for me, and only me. For years I have been so consumed by disabilities, IEPs, advocating, teaching, etc that I rarely did anything else. It was my life. However life goes on, kids grow and change, and either I change with it or be left behind. I'm choosing to change with it. I'll always be thankful that I had the experience of being a special ed paraprofessional and foster parent though...because nothing else could've prepared me better for being Kevin's Mom. As I watch him grow and change from a child to a boy, I am seeing that he still needs me there, but in a different role. A more distant, and yet still strongly supportive one. He is taking some tentative steps towards independance, and instead of holding onto the bike while he pedals, I need to let go and watch him fly.

Except this time, I want to fly too.

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