(For all Special Educational Needs and Disabilities families)
You needn’t scroll far nowadays to draw comparison with others, often from ever far reaching social circles to one’s own. From work and relationships, to picture perfect homes with 2.4 children (although 3 seems to trend in our village; note to self, avoid drinking the water). Whatever order, shape or size we desire, it is human nature to imagine, plan and map out our lives, without always considering that life loves the unexpected and sometimes things are ‘SEND’ to try us, to bend the ideals, give that path a twist.
…our SEND journey…
Prior to having our first born, the thought of school, never mind SEND, hadn’t so much as crossed our hemisphere, let alone minds! As years passed, our plans evolved and dreams of a sibling began to emerge. We moved house to be in our perfect school catchment and were content imagining two little friends growing up together, playing, laughing and metaphorically speaking ‘having each other’s back in the playground’. The ideals.
If you are an avid follower, you will have read my recent post ‘school application ambivalence‘ and will know how emotionally challenging I found the whole process. Not least because my baby seemed far too young for school but like I said, things are ‘SEND’ to try us. What I didn’t reveal in my previous post was that it became evident, fairly early on, due to his cleft palate, that our youngest would need the support that only a specialist school could offer. We began to discover that the ideal scenario, ‘one size fits all’ approach, simply doesn’t do just that! So despite having overcome my ambivalence in the standard school application process, the tough decisions were not yet over.
I will save you the monotony of recounting my perpetual turmoil, which in hindsight should have been the simplest conclusion to draw. In short, regardless of the pros and cons list, sleepless nights and tears, I knew deep down that it would be incomprehensible to deny our son the opportunity of a lifetime. This however came with the acknowledgement, and to my mind a price, that my babies, as much as they may need it at times (perhaps more so than others), would not be able to ‘have each other’s back in the playground’. At least not yet! As lucky as we are to have the opportunity, I regret to say, at the time, this realisation broke my heart…just a little but none the less.
…Our boys would need different schools…
As a mother of a child with SEND, allowing myself to quietly worry or feel upset is usually marred by intense guilt; we are the fortunate ones, our children are alive and healthy (touch wood). Understandably so, it took much deliberation to create and publish this post. It has felt incredibly selfish at times but I do recognise the importance of ‘processing’ and I hope that my way of doing so will help others do the same.
One particular moment of sadness will be forever etched in my mind. My very wise mother said to me “I think you are mourning. Mourning the loss of a life you had imagined”. Melodramatic as it felt to repeat, I couldn’t have hit the nail on the head better myself (and I’m pretty good at DIY). My mother had succeeded, where I had failed, to pick through the emotions and pinpoint exactly how I felt. A skill that comes with years of practice I guess. These words of wisdom provided the catalyst I needed to release the emotion, move forward and look to the positives. I suspect they may resonate with every extra special SEND parent reading this post.
…With positives in mind…
Since beginning our SEND journey we have learnt true kindness in the shape of existing and new friends, SENCO teams and even complete strangers. They have all gone above and beyond, offering everything from logistical and emotional support, to perfectly timed cuddles! They could never know how truly grateful we are to each and every one of them, hopefully this will go some way towards a heartfelt thank you ❤️.
I smile now as I reflect, knowing we’ve chosen the right path. I think about how I sat with my newly found ‘special’ mummy friends (before the start of term I might add – they are a bit ace!) giggling as we shared stories of when our idealistic life plans washed away with our tears; mostly on our school tours, much to the teacher’s amusement no doubt!
…On a final note…
I didn’t cry at the school gates like many new starter mummies this September. I very much used up my quota in the months prior! I won’t lie, my eyes welled up, not from sadness but from happiness and relief. Our youngest is where he needs to be and his sense of belonging is clear to see.
I will no doubt cry, maybe swear, when I see ice laying on the ground with two clashing primary school runs on wintery mornings, or when they both have a school play on the same day and I am forced to chose who needs mummy most but eventually the less ordinary will become just ordinary.
These things are ‘SEND’ to try us and try us they may!
For all the families who live an extra special life ❤️
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