“Absolutely YES!”

That was my answer to the question my husband posed tonight which was “Want to pick up dinner tonight?”

A wise choice for sure as I feel I have cooked a pretty impressive amount of days in a row!

So we go to pick up the dinner and the restaurant has this interesting way of entering and exiting it. You have to pull in off of one street and exit onto another one. To leave it, necessitates going around the back of the restaurant and through several groupings of office buildings.

As we were navigating this maze, we passed the office of one of our local dentists and for some reason tonight I thought about how so many years ago, one of the office receptionists was the mom of one of Emily’s friends. (Emily is our first born) I found myself thinking of the summers we spent near this mom because her daughter was on the swim team with Emily. Her daughter’s were the same ages as mine but that is where the similarities ended because her daughters were able to do the typical sister things together with no crying, meltdowns or fits.

In fact, Emily one time, in a fit of emotions, told me that she felt sad seeing them together because she knows she would “just love the chance to just do those things” with Elizabeth.

For those who don’t know, Elizabeth is my daughter with special needs. She has global dyspraxia and SPD (sensory processing disorder). These disorders affect her life each and everyday. When she was younger, her SPD was so intense that she would cry, what felt like, all day everyday. Until the age of 3. So life was quite complicated for sure. With therapy and hard work, she has made amazing gains in her life. She is now 24 years old and such a beautiful young adult.

I continued my thinking as we drove home…

I started thinking about how long ago that time with this friend was and found myself thinking of just what Elizabeth was like at that time. Was she talking well? Was she able to enjoy the pool yet? Could she manage her emotions? I was kind of amazed that I could actually remember it all and was able to answer my own questions.

But the biggest take away from this, other than the fact that I can apparently remember a lot of things, is the fact that the overriding question to my memory was What was Elizabeth doing? and How was she?

I am thinking that my markers of time also include the inevitable review of What was Elizabeth doing and How was she? I think because her journey has been so long and so complex, I think any memory comes with the question of Elizabeth.

When we think about our family trips. There are thoughts of pools, beaches and fun and How was Elizabeth? Did she have fun?

When we think of family gatherings. We think of the blessed time together and of Elizabeth. Did she talk well yet? How did she do with opening gifts? How was she then?

I think the lives of typically developing children move in one path for the most part. And that is forward.

Crawling leads to walking, then running.

Cooing leads to babbling and then talking

And, well, you get the point and sometimes, I know it seems that some days you swear your teenager has actually regressed to that of a young child but overall, you get the point.

I think only those who have a special needs child in their life know just how much time they spend thinking about, planning for and adjusting around their child. Maybe there are gains or maybe set backs and struggles. Successes then a failure

Be it therapies, trips, life or just a tough day. And it is all done with the hope, intent and purpose of helping them grow in this thing called life. It is all done with the want to do the very best for your child as you can.

As the new school year starts I can go down many a memory lane and think about the years and what we did and the ever present How was Elizabeth?

So I offer to those who are starting the new year to listen to your heart when it comes to your child, advocate for them and trust your instinct.

I wish everyone the very best as you start or if you are in your first few days.

And remember that when you look back on your year and your memories, you will know you did the very best you could for your child.

I wish everyone a peaceful week,

Michele Gianetti author of I Believe in You