I’m taking a little pause (because a little one is all I have time for) in the midst of this last week of school to look back at where my girls have been and where they are going.
Shelby graduates in just 6 short days. I wrote all about that and the festivities surrounding it here. There’s something else that happened this week that I have’t talked about much, and is probably just as important to her future – if not more. My husband and I went to court on Monday to secure guardianship of her. Those of you in the special needs universe are probably somewhat acquainted with this process, but my friends with “typical” children usually have little idea what this is and why it’s even necessary. Shelby turns 18 in July. At that point in a person’s life, they should be able to see doctors, sign documents and make all manner of decisions without the hovering presence of a parent. But not Shelby. At developmentally 2 or 3 years of age, she remains fully dependent on her dad and me. We felt it was necessary to, in essence, sue her to take her rights away. We hired a lawyer, paid for a lawyer to represent her against us, endured home visits, filed extensive paperwork and gathered support for this case in order to protect her. We were told that even with Shelby’s very limited capabilities, this ruling would not be a slam dunk. The court, justifiably, doesn’t take away people’s rights lightly. Without an official guardianship ruling, the chances are that any doctor, therapist or organization that currently knows us and works with her would continue to treat/help her. But it might not be so easy once we have to transition to new “for adult” doctors for her or have to sign any legal documents pertaining to her care. We personally didn’t want to leave anything about her well-being up to chance.
So we went to court. In front of a scary, but fair judge in pursuit of official documents that would give us the right to make her decisions and sign for her. It was granted smoothly and quickly. God is so faithful. After it was all over, our lawyer told us that she represented clients in a very similar situation just a week before and the hearing had lasted 4 hours. And after that 4 hours, the judge simply took the case under advisement. I’m glad the attorney waited to share that bit of intel. I’m not sure how I would have handled being put through that ringer and going home with no real answers. I’m so grateful our case was clean and straight forward – or as much so as it could have been. We got just what we needed. And I waited until we got out of the courtroom, spoke with our attorney, rode the elevator down stairs and got all the way out of the building onto the street before bursting into tears. And the tears flowed for 30 minutes. We did the right thing, but it wasn’t an easy thing. The lump I’m getting in my throat again right now reminds me of the gravity of it all. I cried for the “grown up” that Shelby will never get to be. I cried that we, or someday some else, will always make her decisions. I cried for the college she will never go to, the independence she will never achieve, and the supervision she will always have. I cried that she will never say “I do” or give birth to a child who would call me “Lolli”. Of course, I knew ALL of these things before the court officially declared it. But the hearing brought all of that grief to the surface. So the healthy thing for me to do was cry. And let myself cry as long as I needed to. And then I thanked God for how very good He is – even in the hard things.
Allie is wrapping up what was, for me, the hardest year of my life (until 2017 which you can get an overview of here). I cried through all of 7th grade as I tried to adjust to hormones and big feelings and being part child, part woman. So many changes. Allie seems to have fared it much better. My youngest child is a straight A student with a beautiful singing voice who played 3 sports. Mood swings aside, she’s pretty awesome, and beautiful to look at I might add. And yet in this uber competitive environment we live in, she still gets so discouraged and feels like she doesn’t measure up. My heart breaks to hear her express these insecurities. But out of all the things she does well, there are two things this year that make me prouder than them all. 1. Two of the coaches at her volleyball club have gone out of the way to tell me more than once that Allie has the best attitude and is so much fun to coach because if it. That may seem like little consolation to her as friends with more private lessons or natural ability are afforded opportunities she is not. She may not be the star, but a positive, encouraging attitude will take her much farther than her jump serve. 2. As much as she loves her friends, her faith means even more. She has chosen to be very involved in Students Standing Strong – a bible study club that meets before school – even though none of her friends wanted to go. And she chose to be a part of a mission team preparing to go to Honduras this summer – even though none of her church friends were going. I’m not sure I was mature enough at her age to go against the crowd. And in both situations, she has formed new friendships with older kids not a part of her same grade circle. Her willingness to put Jesus first makes her amazeballs in my book. And my use of “amazeballs” makes me a dork, but whatevs.
That’s what I’ve been thinking about as school winds to a halt. But it’s time to push “play” again on this momentous week. We press on to finish the year strong. Or hobble across the finish line. Either way, we wrap up in just a few days. In the words of that great theologian Madea, “Hallelujer”!
Jennifer Joy Bogdanowicz says
Wow! What fabulous Mama you are! So much of what I’m learning with 3 boys -two in middle school and one in upper elementary is – We are pushing through the hard things and what will likely be “hobbling” across the finish line of the school year. Hang on, hold on, and keep on loving those precious ones with all your heart! Oh, and I said “whatevs” to my hubby the other day and he looked startled and my response, rolling my eyes…. yup – growing up is optional! 😉
Love it! Thanks Jennifer!
Wow… Hallelujer, indeed! 😉 Praying for you and your family as summer quickly (and gloriously!) approaches!
Thank you, Karrilee
Aileen Stewart says
Thank you for sharing your grief and your joy. And the beautiful thing is despite all the difficulties you and your Shelby face on this earth, know that once she is in eternity with her savior everything will be perfect forever. Meanwhile I hope his Grace is sufficient for you all :0)
Thank you for these sweet and true thoughts Aileen.
Connie Rowland says
Hi Lauren, Thanks for sharing your story. It truly touched my heart and reminded me of how great God is. Praying for you and your family. Blessings!
Thank you Connie. Prayers mean so much. And thanks for stopping by.
Cheryl Gerou says
Your neighbor at Faith on Fire. Thank you for sharing with such transparency the reality of having a special needs child. The raw emotions that go with all that you have to deal with is heartwrenching. I taught special needs children and know the realities of your world, but have not lived it as a parent. May the Lord continue to lead you in wisdom and give you strength.
Thank you, Cheryl.
Amanda Dufries says
Hello, Lauren! Thank you so very much for sharing your heart, your struggles, your victories. Parenting has so many ups and downs, and many times there are mixed emotions with each. Praying for you and your family as you continue on this journey and for your precious Shelby. May our Heavenly Father continue to carry you all through with His grace and favor. Visiting you from the Dancing with Jesus Link-up.
Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by Amanda!
Karen, the next best thing to mummy says
Thanks for being brave enough to share your story #trafficjamweekend
Thanks for reading and commenting Karen.
Stacey Cartlidge says
Thank you for sharing the reality of life as it is, not as we wish it were and helping us all to see the beauty interwoven in our tears. Blessings on you, Chuck, and the girls.
Thanks friend. We need to get together again soon!
Hallelujer! Love you. Praying God gives you peace and stamina for the week ahead.
Thanks, bud. Love u.
Thank you, Lauren, for enlightening me. I had no idea this process even existed. Praise God He walked you all safely through.
Bless you and your precious family with all you need and more.
Thank you, Lisa.
My friend-you never give yourself the credit you deserve. You have amazing strength, endurance, faith and humor no matter how tough the situation. You just keep right on hobbling as you are doing great. It’s okay to be human -I think all four of you are amazeballs!
What a sweet thing to say. Thanks Jaymie.
Wow! Amazed at the process you’ve had to endure but more amazed at your enduring spirit. And I’m equally thankful for your faith that sustains you.
Thank you, Debby. God is so faithful.
Lisa/Syncopated Mama says
Such a difficulty to have to go through, but I really appreciate your sharing it with us and letting us walk the journey with you! (I’ve also chosen this post as one of my features for the week!) #FridayFrivolity
Thank you, Lisa. I am so honored that you want to feature it! I appreciate it more than you know.
Linda Stoll says
These little pauses are what keeps us going in the midst of all the chaos of our lives. To sit still and speak what is true is a great gift we give ourselves. I’m so happy to have run into you over at Holley’s this morning, Lauren.
A gift, indeed …
Thank you, Linda. Glad you stopped by!
Thank you for sharing your story, I hope you all have a wonderful summer.
Thank you, Anne. You as well.
Sue Donaldson says
I’m glad you did the healthy thing. Thirty minutes of crying. I’m thinking it won’t be the last time. God has big bottles and keeps all our tears (and all our children.) Blessings.
It definitely won’t be the last time, Sue. Thank you for reading and commenting.
As always, you write with grace and beauty about things most people cannot understand. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for and you continue to enlighten me with your wisdom! Blessings for you and Chuck and your amazing girls! ❤️
You are too kind, Sharon. Thank you for reading. You are a hero to many a special needs mama.
Karen Friday says
Oh goodness, Lauren. So glad the judge ruled in your favor. This has Shelby’s best interest at heart and can’t imagine a judge ruling differently. Beautiful and vulnerable post. 🙂
Thank you, Karen.
Donna Reidland says
What a challenging, yet awesome, role God has given you! May He continue to give you the grace and the blessings that I know He will. I look forward to more updates through the years.
Thank you, Donna.
Lisa notes says
You’re right that too many of us aren’t aware of that piece of legality! I wasn’t at all. But I totally understand it and applaud you for going through all the red tape to ensure Shelby’s future is taken care of. What a beautiful mother you are.
What a sweet thing to say. Thank you, Lisa.
Wow. Just wow.
We never really can tell the stretch of people’s hearts fully from a photograph (I thought this when I clicked on your comment and hopped on here) and I’m blessed by your honesty, your story and your sacrifice.
As someone who’s pushing 3 years of marriage and no littles yet (I’m easing into the thought) I love reading and gleaning from brave mamas like you whose wisdom I get to pocket or Instapaper <3
Sending strength and grace mama!
You're doing great!
Thanks soooo much for returning the visit and for your sweet comment.
Lisa Pomerantz says
What an amazing story to share, and what good parents you are to do what you had to do… I can’t imagine, and I completely understand. WIshing you all the very best in health and happiness, for you and your crew. xo #LGRTstumble xo
Thank you, Lisa.
Karen Del Tatto says
Lauren, Thank you for sharing your story so transparently. I can’t even imagine what you are going through concerning your daughter and the process for receiving guardianship.
Enjoy all the festivities for the graduation!
May the Lord hold you and your family close.
Karen, your sweet prayer is perfectly timed for me today. Thank you.
Debbie Kitterman says
Lauren – congratulations to Shelby and to you on your daughters graduation! Cause we all know, us moms deserve to be acknowledge for it too.. all the long nights, projects, homework, running things to school that were forgotten… oh the list goes on. LOL Also congrats for taking the time out to be present and enjoy the final push to the end of school. It is an amazing season for sure…and crying is most certainly allowed – 🙂 I love all your humor tucked here and there – I feel like I am getting to know you more the more of your posts I read… and I don’t think using the word “amazeballs” makes you weird – lol thanks for linking up with #tuneinthursday