Many days life has felt so “normal.” They felt like any other summer afternoons where my kids played and laughed and pretended and imagined together. So often I never even noticed what most would see as disability or differences in Esther. I saw (we saw) a very capable and confident, smart and sassy blonde pigtailed little fireball. Yes, I would notice when she played with her cousins or when she met a new friend on the playground. I knew and I saw the looks from little ones who could tell she was different but didn’t know why. But deep in my spirit I also knew how incredibly amazing and comprehending she really is. Even when others aren’t aware that she knows- she does. But today, as we walked her into her kindergarten class, today hit hard.
There is a long hallway as you walk into the elementary. We walked down it with all the other kids, all the other parents as Essie waved and smiled at each child that came within feet of her. “That’s my friend” she declared. She watched the other little girls about her size and smiled. And then at the end of the hallway there was a crossroad, a split. To left, we watched the other kindergarteners walk to their classrooms. She began to follow them. She eyed the little girl in front of her and I could tell felt confused that she wasn’t going with her. But we turned right. We turned right into an amazing classroom with loving teachers and a beautiful small group of students that she will spend most of her time with. She looked around at the other students, her teachers and helpers a bit confused, and I saw it in her eyes. It was as if for the first time she saw that things were a little different for her and my heart felt shredded to pieces. We knew she wanted to go with the others- and she will for some of the day. Our hearts desire is for full inclusion as soon as she’s able and as much as possible. She longs for it. But the reality is, we also know she needs the help, the assistance and amazing services that special education offers her. I knew it would be hard to send her to kinder, but I had no idea how hard this particular part of the process would be. I felt reality, beautifully challenging and glorious alike, crashing in like waves threatening to drown me.
Don’t get me wrong, being a mommy to Esther is a joy and I would not for a million years change anything about her. I cherish the way God made her brain, the way it is developing and what she offers the world. She will be a treasure to every classroom she enters- I know it. It’s just that sometimes I forget. I forget that not everyone goes to therapies and doctors and has two classrooms in school. Well that’s not true, I don’t really forget- it’s just become so normal for us. I can’t quite explain it, but this morning when I watched my daughter walk in with her classmates, all beautifully woven together with the tenderness of Gods special craftsmanship, it was a reminder that this is our journey. We have a daughter with special needs. This is our road and today we took some first steps onto the school part of it. I’m scared. I’m excited. I’m so proud. I’m sad. I’m lost. I’m full of peace. Mostly, I am taking one day at a time resting in the reality that Jesus is with our girl. A friend shared with me today something that I think will stick with me for a long time and I will need to remember: “I think she is braver than all of us” she wrote. And I think she is too. God didn’t just make us for this- those of us in her corner. God made Esther for this journey. He made her brave and courageous and kind and resilient.
Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for her, for me. Fittingly, Esthers first day of school shirt says, “Go make your mark” and I know she will. She leaves a mark on everyone she meets. Her birthday is tomorrow. Day 2,190 of our journey so far. I don’t know how to do tomorrow, but I do know this:
Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong, we are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves her. Yes, Jesus loves you, the Bible tells us so.