Accessibility, Activism, Advocacy, Cerebral Palsy, Nursery School, Our Son, Parenthood, Teaching, Toronto

Full Time Job

I introduced myself to a new mom at Sebastian’s school this week. It was amazing how grateful she was. I remember being her. Alone. With a young son who cannot walk, cannot talk. Carrying him, his body stiff, or in our case too relaxed. She’s in another class, just once a week and her son is also in a wheelchair. When I saw her, I remembered myself two plus years ago. Connecting with other moms/parents who have kids with additional needs helps create a world with a new normal. And it reminds us we are not alone.

A couple weeks ago I stopped by the family resource centre at the hospital where Sebastian receives therapy. I pushed his chair as I carried Tallula in the carrier and pulled Seb’s walker. I went to introduce myself to the new person organising the Family Advisors volunteer schedules. Because I’m a Family Advisor. In my free time.

This week I attended the ‘transition to school’ meeting at Sebastian’s pre-school. I attended last year too. Then I decided to keep him in his current school one more year. I’m reading a book on how to advocate for your child with special needs in the public school system and what kinds of paperwork/processes we would go through upon entering kindergarten in this system. And what services are/are not available to my son.

In the afternoons I take Sebastian to therapies or work on literacy skills during Tallula’s naptime. This term Sebastian went to Hippotherapy, PT and attended a switch class (using a switch to access simple computer games). We get two afternoons a week of uninterrupted naps and comfy pants. Two.

Recently I went to a gathering of professional women. Ok, it was a yummy cookie swap with ladies I didn’t really know. In my past (professional) life I was a teacher. I taught internationally for just over 8 years at private international schools. Most recently I taught in the IB/PYP Programme. I believe it is the best curriculum for kids to learn. But I’m not writing today to talk about that. During the cookie swap, I was asked thequestion.
 
It’s funny when people ask if I will teach again, as if I’m not working now. I know some moms also work full time, but I’m working full time too. I never knew I would become a volunteer member at a therapeutic kids hospital or a moderator for a special needs parent group. I never knew that I would have to search and advocate to find the right school for my son. I never knew that I would research and drive him to countless therapies or a special pre-school. Teaching was a breeze compared to this (and I’ve had some challenging schools/kids/situations). But this, this life I now have as a full time mom, it’s more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

So rather than asking me if I will ‘go back to teaching/work’, ask about what I do now. Because although I indulge in afternoon naps with my children instead of folding the laundry, I also do so much more.

And no, I won’t go back to teaching. And yes, I’m quick to say so. I had to accept that I would not teach internationally again because I need to be in a place where my son is accepted and taken care of, with services/medicine/equipment he requires. Unless there is an IB school happy to integrate my son into their school, no, I won’t be returning to the classroom as a teacher. Will I do something else? Of course. But I don’t know that I’ll get paid for it. At least not right now. And thankfully we have chosen the simple life and my husband is able to support us.

Happy.
 
 

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