It's days away from the end of 2011. I, like so many others, love to look back. The week between Christmas and New Year is a time of great reflection and remembrance. I love "best of" lists and "most intriguing people" countdowns.
Brady is not a celebrity, except maybe in our own house-but I think he deserves a little look back....
2011 has been a challenging year. A year when we redefined the terms "ok" and "normal." We have learned to accept difficult realities and change the way we think about the future. 2011 has been the year Brady's progress has slowed way down and our anxiety about his future has sped way up. This has also been the year that Brady's future has played a bigger role than his present. He had his first psychological, first IEP and first major crossroads regarding his education. I know that this is just the beginning, but every journey has a starting point and 2011 has been just that.
Brady had attended the MISD MIPPS program for 2 years. During this period, we had always felt that this special education journey was temporary. My husband and I never thought that we would become a part of "the special education system." We always believed in what we had been told early on-Brady was just a little behind and he would "catch up." As we entered 2011, the discussions regarding Brady's future education "plan" started to take center stage. The MISD programs and therapies we had taken Brady to for the past few years became mini-tests in which therapists and teachers continuously evaluated and dissected Brady. They were making plans for his future. They were making plans for our little boy without us. After many tears, sleepless nights, hours spent researching and talking to every special education "expert" we knew, we decided on our local school district's ECSE program for our little boy.
Brady had entered the special education system. He had his first IEP in May and the plans were put in motion. Our spirited and smiling little boy, with no voice of his own, was going to school, the school we chose. I have spent almost all of 2011 worrying if we made the right choice for him. In September, the big yellow school bus pulled around the corner and I placed Brady on the bus-all by himself-to begin an adventure all his own. Brady has loved the experience of school. Riding the bus. Exploring a new setting. Being in close proximity to his peers. Despite his happiness and big smiles for his teachers, the second guessing has not gone away.
Each day that passes without reaching a goal-even a simple goal like picking up a toy and playing with it for 5 minutes or saying a word-just one word-fills me with worry and wonder if a different program would have been a better fit. Regardless of what happens with Brady's future education plans, 2011 will always be the year Brady started "big boy" school.
2011 was also the year we received a pretty definite diagnosis. We saw the Geneticist for the 2nd time in 2011 and we received a report that basically said-all of Brady's abnormalities, delays and challenges are caused by the 1 q duplication. That stubborn extra piece of chromosome is the cause of so much pain and frustration. It still amazes me that such a fluke thing, such a rarity, can change our lives so incredibly. But at least we know. 2011 is the year we started to get some answers.
2011 will also be the year of falling down, knocking everything down and being a little down. Brady's attention span has reached an all time low in 2011 and our frustration levels an all time high. Our daughter Molly has expressed her outrage at Brady's total lack of interest in anything, so many times this year-Joe and I lost count back in July. But despite, the challenges, disappointments, fears and frustrations-their have been many triumphs for our family this year. Sometimes, when I write, I forget to write about us as a family of four. Each of us had our own triumphs in 2011. Joe has continued to grow into his role as Department Head and enjoys his job more than most people. He received a very special honor in November when his high school football jersey was retired. it was an incredibly nostalgic and proud moment for me as his wife and fellow Eagle. Even Molly enjoyed the attention we received that evening.
Molly had an incredible 2011. She excelled in 1st grade and welcomed the new challenges of second grade. She played on her first Little League baseball team and amazed us with her smooth swing and natural baseball stance. Even Brady enjoyed those spring evenings cheering Molly on as her dad coached the team. She enjoyed a special honor of having her artwork chosen for the District art show and she being the top "cookie seller" in her Daisy troop. A year of special recognitions that had all to do with her own special abilities.
But 2011, for Molly anyway, will be the Year of Dance. This past year Molly has developed a passionate love for dance. Any kind of dance. Jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical-anything she has tried she loved. So, this past summer, Molly tried out for and made her dance studio's Company. Even though four nights a week of dance, has been a challenge for her exhausted parents, Molly has grown into not only an amazing little dancer, but an independent and confident young lady. Dance is Molly's "thing." We are happy that she has something that is all her own. She deserves something all her own.
We had new babies in our family, weddings where my daughter got to steal the show a little bit and lots of family get togethers. All good stuff for my family. As for me, 2011 has been a year of running around. A year of learning to let go a little bit and learning to accept things that I cannot control. Being a working mother of 2 young children, a special needs parent, PTO treasurer, car-pooler, friend, sister, daughter and wife has been challenging but always rewarding. My adventure with blogging this year has been a highlight. Blogging has been an incredible journey where I have encountered inspiring families, learned how much support I have in this community and found an outlet to share our family's story.
Like so many other families, 2011 was a year of ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments, heartbreaks and great joys. I have enjoyed "my year of many emotions." My son will have many years where we face roadblocks, forks in the road and second guessing. 2011 will go down as a year of so many beginnings for our family. As 2011 winds down, I have such hope for my son's future, for my family's strength and for the power in believing that anything is possible....that is what a New Year is all about. Welcome 2012!