I have said these words a number of times since the ball dropped a few days ago.

Happy.

New.

Year.

This got me thinking about what it really means for me?

Does it mean that I should be happy? Even if I am not. Grateful? Yes! Blessed? Yes! But Happy? Not always.

Does it mean that we should face the new year with excitement? Even if the world is pretty crazy now? I am not sure.

Or does it mean we make these resolutions to do better? Be better?

I think for me, Each new year does not have that close- your- eyes- and- when- you- open- them- all- will-be- new- and- well-phenomenon that a simple flip of the calendar is promised to bring.

I like the idea that I can “start fresh” and the idea that all the stuff of the year is “behind us”

I like the idea but I think for me and for those who are raising children with special needs, we know that it does not really work that way. Certain things will not be behind us, nor will they be fresh and new.

Rather….

We will still be their advocates on January 1.

We will still be fighting for them and all the services they need on January 1

We will still be making sure that the world understands them on January 1

We will still be doing all we can for them on January 1

The gift of the end of the year retrospective that we allow ourselves, in my opinion, is that we can see where we may wish we were stronger in a certain encounter, maybe a bit more organized as we look for the latest IEP updates. Or maybe we wish we just wouldn’t have said that one thing in the heat of a meltdown. Those things are the ones we can look back on and be happy they are “behind us.”

Resolutions bring in the hope of a fresh start. So many people make them and assure themselves that they WILL do them THIS year. That they will adjust their food intake, switch how they look at fitness or move to that new opportunity.

But the thing for me, and I think for many who have special needs children, is that we are required to adjust, switch and move things for and with our special needs child at the drop of a hat. We don’t need to wait until January 1st to make changes. If X isn’t working, we find Y or if this IEP goal is too much or too low, we adjust. and on it goes. We make these new resolutions and changes for our child many, many times a year sometimes even in the course of a day.

I, myself, don’t make huge resolutions. I guess on my journey with Elizabeth, I have learned to evaluate and adjust for her needs and life and I think it has spilled over into the other parts of my life as well.

I have also learned, and it is another gift of Elizabeth, to be gentle with myself when I do look back over the past year…. to try not to wish I would have done this or that earlier or later. I try to know in my heart I am really doing the best I can for and with her each day. I need to know this in my deepest of hearts and I hope my words are ones others may need to read today as well.

We really are doing the best we can for our special children. So know that the flip of the calendar doesn’t mean you need to change all you do because all you did that year came from your heart.

Happy New Year and may you know, as I need to know too!, that we will continue our journeys…doing the very best we can.

I wish everyone a peaceful week and Please wear a mask!

Michele Gianetti, author of I Believe in You