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”!