Friday, March 25, 2011

Life Support

Three and a half years ago I dressed Hattie up in her sweet little smocked dress and brown mary jane shoes and we walked her into a classroom for the very first time. She was a whopping three years old and SOOOO stinkin tiny. I watched from behind marveling at the fact that all I could see was a backpack and a pair of feet - that bag was bigger than she was. It all seemed like SO much to take in. Add to that the fact that this was also the day that Sophie was born and ... well, you get the pictures. I was a hot mess.

Two years later we finally received a diagnosis of autism and she was enrolled in the Autistic program - where she has thrived. Now she is reading, talking, communicating and doing things we wondered if she ever would. She has come so far. Some steps were agonizingly slow and painful. And yet some steps seemed to sneak up on us in leaps and bounds. As a parent I have cried tears of heartbreak watching her struggle, of pride watching her grow and of joy watching her succeed. I have said so often that she is the adventure that I never saw coming ... and it is true. I am afraid of the answer I would have given if they had asked me to adopt a special needs child in the beginning ... but, now I know that I would not trade a single moment of being her mommy for anything in this entire world. She has taught me infinitely more than I could ever begin to teach her. And I can only pray that she is half as Blessed to be a part of this family as we are to have her with us.

On Wednesday morning, my man and I walked into a new school to visit a kindergarten classroom. A classroom where, in just a couple weeks, Hattie will be taking a step toward mainstreaming into a traditional educational plan. I did not see the tears coming. I mean, the kid has been in school for three and a half years!!! They came out of nowhere. I cannot even explain to you WHY I cried. I just did. Big, huge, crocodile tears. My baby is going to school. REAL, traditional, school.


And then this morning we walked into a conference room at that same school. I sat in that chair and looked around the room at whole slew of people. There were teachers, social workers, therapists, resource teachers ... you name it. A room full of people that were there for one purpose. To help my little girl succeed. A support system. LIFE support for my family.


It was humbling. It was awe inspiring. It was ... well, there really are just not a lot of words for all that it meant to me. And so, of course, there were more tears. I listened to those that know her already talk to the ones who are just getting to know her. They told her what she likes, what she doesn't like, what works for her, what makes her tick and who she is. And I sat there thinking "they KNOW my child!"

Before this program, I was so very afraid of the autism diagnosis. Afraid that she would be lost in a program that serves so many children of various stages and severity of the spectrum. Afraid that she would be overlooked as the needs of the more severely affected children's needs were met. And, even more afraid that she would begin to mimic and take on the behaviors and symptoms of the other children. That she would regress farther away from us.

But, I was wrong. And I could not be happier to BE wrong.

You see, because Hattie is so high functioning, she has thrived in this program. And the teachers have all recognized her capacity to learn and have jumped right in to help her to go as far as she can. And their love and willingness to KNOW my child led us to that room this morning.

A room I never imagined myself in.

A room that I would never have signed up for.

A room full of people - some strangers to us - who have Blessed our lives in more ways than can ever be expressed.

A room that I would not trade for the world.

Hattie ... the adventure I never saw coming.

The adventure of a lifetime.

Oh, what joy.

Thank You Father, for every step on this path. Please teach me to help her through these changes and to take her where YOU have planned for her to go.

Thank You ... for the adventure.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Seven Year Photo Shoot

With Hattie turning seven a few weeks ago, it was time for some new pics of her. I wanted more than snapshots, but snapshots are usually as good as we can get with this one. She is NOT a fan of having her picture taken ... at all.

In fact, when the camera comes out, she can usually be found running for the hills.

But, on Sunday she was looking especially cute (in her FABULOUS shirt by Melissa at MCA Designs!!! PS: her models for the Easter shirts are impossibly cute ;-P), and was in a pretty good mood, so I decided to give it a try.

I knew the window of opportunity was small, so I just stood her in front of a brick wall and started snapping. We got a LOT of this ...

... and this ...

And then I just started teasing her and joking around with her and the REAL Hattie started to come out.

I LOVE these pictures

because they really show her personality

Her FUN side

Quirky nature

Sense of humor

And sense of fun
In short ...

... they show Hattie.

And THAT is simply lovely.