Category Archives: Help! This was not in the book!

Why “Back to School Season” is Not Exciting For Some of Us


It happens every year around July 5th…..As we walk into a store, the former 4th of July/Seasonal section transforms in the blink of an eye to shelves filled with notebooks, markers, crayons. Fall beckons even though the temperature bathes us in swelting heat. And the dread begins. School will begin soon.

For some parents, the reminder of the school season brings relief. Structure helps us all. For kids, boredom has set in and the opportunity for new friendships, learning environments and knowledge provides comfort. The issues of safety, school provided meals and childcare make the school year welcoming.

Furthermore, I think we can all attest that, by August 1, the sibling fighting season is coming to a “point of no return.”  The lure of soon-to-be peaceful hours on the homefront presents itself.

I laughed when I saw that Trader Joes hosted a “back to school” tasting party for the parents on the first day of school. I’d love to say that I felt such a sense of exhilaration but I didn’t.

For me, the sight of school supplies on July 5th, brought very mixed emotions.  My daughter struggled in school.  While kids excitedly found out the names of their teachers  we felt a lump in our throats. Would he/she see the beauty in my child that I see?  While other kids frantically called up their friends to see who else shared their teacher assignment,  the school suggested placing a familiar student in her class so that she would perhaps engage socially.

For us, it meant hoping that her teacher(s) would cooperate with the IEP easily so that I didn’t have to spend time at night emailing them about assignments. My other kids tired of being pushed aside in order to help my daughter complete her homework.  We’re talking long tension filled hours which resulted in exhaustion for my daughter as well as my husband and me.  Those days seemed to resemble a scene from the movie, “Groundhog Day.” I actually loathed going to sleep as I knew that the events of the day would all play out again the next day.

Getting my daughter to school proved to have its own challenges.

How do you manage to get a child to school on time when the clutches of anxiety/depression attempt to pull your child away from your hands ?

How do you move on with your day after dropping your child off at school after an hour long battle? Her eyes, swollen and puffy, her demeanor signifying defeat?

Don’t get me wrong.  Summer is not always a picnic either when you have a child with behavioral/mood disorders.  The lack of structure, the full on presence of everyone at home, everyday, and the lack  of respite for the parents (and siblings) from the unpredictable outbursts make Summer days tedious at times.

Yet, the beauty is that the child is in a familiar environment, and we can shape the schedule and activities around her needs.

These last few years, the approach of “back to school” season  has not brought on the dread as much as in the past. A few years ago, we made the decision to home school our daughter.  It was the best decision for our family.  This choice presents its own set of challenges but we have developed a routine that works for us.

I realize that homeschooling may not be the best solution for everyone. So for those of you who are familiar with the dread of which I speak, keep on keeping on.  God knows how much you love your child and that you want the best for them.  What can you do?

Ask for help.  You are not a bad parent because you cannot manage this school thing alone. Utilize your school village: social workers, resource teachers, aids to help your child navigate the learning environment. Furthermore, know your child’s legal rights for education. If necessary, seek advocacy outside of the district.  There are some lawyers who offer services pro bono (search for local resources).

Let your vulnerability speak of your journey. I remember one phone call with my daughter’s resource teacher in which the tears came so quickly and so fiercely, that I could barely speak.  Sometimes, others really do not understand the depth of the frustration and pain you feel for your child.

Most of all, know that God has created your child for a purpose. A sacred purpose. No one can take that away.

What can you do If you are reading this post and do not face the dread posed by “Back to School” season?  Consider the little things that can make an impact on our families in a big way.  Providing meals (even a gift card), extra affirmation to the siblings and generally listening without judgement speaks love into their souls. Pray for them.

These days can be hard.  Sometimes, the words to form our prayers are just not there. But remember this:

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. “(Romans 8:26, Msg.)

I would love to pray for you! Just leave your name (or be anonymous) in the comments.






a sovereign creation

7816330042_e3fd4937e0_zLately I have been reflecting on what it means that God “knits us together in our mother’s womb.” as is written in Psalm 139. When reading these words previously, I thought about the sanctity of life. That we are all created by the hand of God and reflect His image. That even in the midst of unexpected pregnancy, God’s sovereign and redemptive hand is at work.

While that understanding arises out of this verse, I’ve found another question to ponder. How does Psalm 139 speak to the features of human creation that we on earth view as flawed? My daughter is incredibly creative, sees the potential in the mundane, and has a witty sense of humor. She also struggles with manic modes, feeling “outside of the box”, and struggles with cognitive and emotional processing. Everyday moments become exhausting struggles.

What if she did not fight this disorder? What if it had never been in her DNA? What would she look like? How would she view life?

I am challenged by her “quirks.” As much as it can bother me at times, her distractibility teaches me to “stop and smell the roses.” I’m usually so focused on my agenda, that I miss the small things that enhance our lives: flowers, nature, sunshine. Maybe because she often feels out of control, she notices things that bring simple enjoyment.

She also can become very focused to the point of obsession in finishing a project. These are her most creative moments. Research shows that many people with Bipolar are incredibly creative and accomplished.

We joke about the many items that I have thrown out but are rescued by her and put to use: a gift bag; sprayed gold, stamped and ribbon attached is made from a bandaid box, a yogurt container becomes a planter, a sock becomes a cell phone holder.

While I do not believe that in God’s goodness, her life would be willed to struggle, could the affected parts of her brain actually enhance her being? Do these areas actually work to achieve God’s purposes for her and her ability draw people to her Creator?

What are the implications of accepting God knitting us together;quirks and all?
Doesn’t a knit item have a unique characteristic even if there’s a bum stitch or hole?

And doesn’t the fact that the item is still valued tell us something?



Photo taken from Flickr: Lisa Risager