This post is brought to you by Shontay Brown, Dedicated Mother of four.  

IMG_0349It’s that time of year again.  The mad rush begins!  I don’t know about you, but shopping for school clothes and school supplies can become tedious.  “Mom, I don’t want that color folder, I prefer purple,” or “Mom, I can’t take that super hero backpack to school, I am too old for that…I am 10 now.”  While most mothers in the United States (if not in most parts of the world) have mastered the beautiful art of school shopping and at the same time, managed to make their children happy in the school shopping process, most mothers of special needs children find themselves having to tackle other hurdles.  I can only speak for myself, but at night, thoughts of IEPs, behavior, evaluations, classroom size, classroom management, and teachers keep me up some nights. I often find myself wondering:  How is the process of educating a special needs child going to go this year; what do I need to know before making a decision about X-Y-Z; will the teacher be fair to my child; what if the classroom is not a good fit for my child; will my child learn; and will my child be happy?

IMG_0384I would love to sit here and type a blog that reflects a perfect and peaceful life, but that is not my actual reality.  My reality is that I am mother of a special needs child. My child sees a myriad of specialists and with school, I am having to sort out schedules that includes his time in school and ensuring he is still able to continue needed therapies in addition.  This is only one part of the puzzle:  I also have two other children that require speech therapy (we do both private speech and speech offered through the district); I have to make sure that the therapy times do not conflict with one another or with school time.  I also spend time ensuring that my children are also involved in extracurricular activities that encourage academic growth and socialization.  Guess what?  This scheduling does not include work or immediate needs that must be addressed with being a military family.

…Okay, took a deep breath…and another large sip of coffee.  Moving on…

I am that annoying parent (I don’t mind that title) where I have to know the teacher email addresses, phone numbers (cell phone numbers if teachers give them out), and I do make surprise appearances to my children’s classes (if permissible).  I will schedule to have lunch with my children at school.  I am that annoying parent that wants to know what is going on in the classroom, gaining an understanding of each assignment, expectation, and progress of each of my children.  I am that annoying parent that needs to know how each day went.  I am that annoying parent that wants to know how the classroom functions and how it best suits the needs of my child, but also what can I do to improve my child’s participation and adherence to classroom management.  I want to get to know the teacher and rehearse the expectations for the classroom. I also rehearse disability rights; I am my child’s most loyal and fierce advocate.  To my children, I am not an annoying parent, I am the world’s greatest mom.

IMG_0457Back to school time is very different for us than for most of our family, friends, and neighbors.  Their minds are not captivated by IEP meetings or multiple therapies during the week.  This is my reality, my life, more so, the developing lives of my children.  So while I sit here late at night (the only time I have time to type), with a cup of coffee (what I lovingly refer to as Coffee Bean Therapy), I smile because I actually achieved a decent bedtime for all four of my children; I smile because I would not change my life for anything in this world.  I am excited for the possibilities that lay ahead for my children, nurturing, fostering, and advocating for their academic successes.  I believe in their abilities and the sky is the limit!

I read a book to my children at night entitled, “I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont.  The character in this book talks about how she likes herself, inside and out, no matter what others think.  I read this book to my children every night as a way to build esteem, but in the process, it builds me up too as I gear up for another year of academic success for my children.  No matter what others may think or say, I love my children inside out.  My children are special, they are amazing, and they will achieve GREAT things this year and I AM EXCITED FOR THEM!  This year will be a great year, no matter the challenges that lay ahead.  2015-2016 school year…here we come!

Thank you Shontay for your contribution!