Before I became a mother I received tons of unsolicited advice and opinions about motherhood. I heard the classics like "sleep now because you'll never sleep again" and "once you become a mother everything changes." Turns out that advice was wrong since I do sleep every single night at some point and my eyes are the same color so everything did not in fact change. But for all the solicited and unsolicited advice that I received no one told me that there would come a day when I couldn’t help my child, and that it would rip my heart out. I’ve never felt more helpless than last week when I had to watch Mark cry for me to make things right, but I couldn’t.
My son has been in Early Intervention since he was four months old. They have provided us with many services and support over the years. But their services end when your child turns three and then you are handed over to the school district. I was worried about the transition period since my son has mild Cerebral Palsy and it’s hard to get services for a kid who is mild. We went through the testing process which was a nightmare and then we waited for the results.
I went to the results meeting alone since I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal. I knew he was going to get speech services since the speech pathologist was kind enough to tell me during testing that he qualified. I didn’t think that Mark would qualify for preschool but he did. They individually went over the results and then dropped a bomb on me. Mark qualified in all five areas that they test in and told me that he is severely developmentally delayed.
That took the wind out of me. I knew he was behind his twin, but I had no clue just how far behind he was. Then they dropped the second bomb because really one is not enough. In their opinion, Mark would be unsuccessful in a general education classroom and they were placing him in the self contained special education classroom. I was not prepared for that piece of information but I agreed with them after seeing the test results. They were right; he really was far behind his peers.
One excited little boy on the first day of school
He started preschool last week. He was very excited about going to school and did the classic crying on the first day. I knew he would be fine once I left and that as hard as it was for me to admit it, my son really did need to be in the self contained special education class. One of the perks of his class is that it comes with bus services. Which is great for me since his preschool is 20 minutes from the house. He was so excited about taking the bus to school, right up until the moment that the bus pulled up.
Waiting for the Bus
Once he realized that he was getting on the bus alone, he burst into tears. Mark wanted his twin to go with him and both of them couldn't understand why that was impossible. I had Molly crying for her brother and Mark crying for his sister all while I tried to get Mark to the bus. The bus driver was very kind and allowed me to put Mark on the bus. He screamed, cried, and tried to run off the bus a few times. And just to add to my guilt he cried to me “don’t let the man take me mommy” over and over. WOW! That was a knife right through the heart! I waved and smiled through my tearing up eyes as he drove away and I felt like the worst mom in the world for letting the man take him away from me.
I don’t know what it was, but watching my son leave on the short bus hurt in ways that I didn’t know was possible. I felt so guilty about putting a scared 3 year old on the bus and sad that I really didn’t have a baby anymore. And it was in that moment that it hit me that the same person who made all the short bus jokes in her youth now has a son on a short bus. And I started feeling guilty for the person I once was who would make those jokes.