Half a year ago my tiny little boy, who (in my mind) was far too small to grace the steps of a yellow school bus, let alone the doors of an Elementary School, began his public school carrier. He had just turned three years old. Three!
You see, because he has this diagnosis of Autism, he is able to begin school early in hopes of getting him the structure, therapy, and help he needs early on so that later he might be able to integrate into a regular classroom setting. It makes sense… but it was terrifying.
I have quickly learned that by being a Special Needs Parent, there is a very peculiar balance of Hanging On and Letting Go.
I believe every parent wrestles with this to some extent, even with neurotypical children who have no disability. I am simply saying that (to me) there is something about having a special needs child that makes them seem more vulnerable and from this vulnerability comes an overwhelming desire to protect.
Let me explain with just a few examples:
- Ezra requires a lot of hand-over-hand and self-help. (Hanging on)
- He is very impulsive and requires constant supervision. (Hanging on)
- We do not know what the future holds for Ezra but we know that there is a possibility that he may be dependent for a very long time, or maybe forever. (Hanging on)
- We know he needs therapy and we search for the one that “seems right” and have to entrust him to the “experts” to help him as much as possible. (Letting go)
-Realizing that although he has many disabilities or delays, I cannot wrap him up in bubble wrap and keep him safely by my side. I must push him to try, push him when he fails, and push him to get back up and do it all over again. (Letting go)
-I am terrified to leave my mostly non-verbal child whose number one impulse is to flee, with anyone other than us, his parents. However, there are times that I have to go somewhere or do something and I must trust another to help care for my little man. (Letting go)
This odd balance of Hanging On and Letting Go goes on and on. My heart tells me to protect and to shelter him but I know that I must push, teach, and let him experience the freedom of being a kid – as much as he possibly can.
I have realized that this crazy notion of Hanging On and Letting Go will probably forever be a part of our family’s life. But do you know what else I have realized? The Lord has gently reminded me that as much as I struggle with which things to “Hang On" to and “Let Go" of, the whole time He holds my baby in the palm of His hands.
Isaiah 41:10 says “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
The Lord will uphold Ezra with His righteous right hand! I do not need to fear. I do not need to be dismayed. What better hands to entrust my child to, but than to the Lord’s?
When I remind myself of this, all of a sudden, this Hanging On and Letting Go tug of war that plays out in my heart is eased as I am reminded that He Is God. He is in Control. He is holding Ezra by His righteous right hand as my little one journeys to school, to therapy, and wherever else his little life may lead.
I continue to pray for wisdom and discernment when it comes to making life decisions for Ezra. I still do a lot of Hanging On (I mean really, he is only three years old!) but I am learning that Letting Go may be more an issue of the heart. Maybe I need to “Let go” of some of my fears, remembering that the Lord promises to offer strength and help. The Lord NEVER "Lets go", so that I can. He holds Ezra in the palm of His hands. Praise the Lord!