I have to send out a special thank you to Pulaski High School. Their accommodations provided for the IEP yesterday made me wake up much earlier than I wanted. For ANY appointment. I cannot express so agitated I was, having to basically force my way out of bed. Alas, it was …. Interesting.
For those that are unaware – IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. Typically the kids that will have this in force are the learning disabled or other emotional and/or cognitive disruption in learning. They are scheduled for students once a year to establish goals to work on with the student. It allows parents and other directly involved in care individuals to be informed. And of course stay within state and federal mandates.
I guess I get frustrated with Ashleigh’s team sometimes. She took a test to measure her skill levels in math, reading, and reading comprehension. Her reading was at a 4th grade level. That included her comprehension. Her math skill was at a 5th grade level. Yet, she is on track to graduate in June of 2014. I know you can’t keep a kid forever, and I battle with the why’s and what it’s for the here and now and the future. Jobs? Living arrangements? Willingness to receive supportive services, the governments ability to fund programs that assist kids and adults like Ashleigh… Or struggling with other disabling issues, and is social security going to continue her benefits as an adult? Who files for it? When do more adult preparation skills come into play? Who is going to be patient enough to employ her or even maintain healthy friendships with? The list could go on and on. In this meeting, I have to admit. I was awe struck. Some of the future goals that Ashleigh had communicated wanting were, well…good. Hell, even great! For me, it left me feel like someone slapped me on the face. Her teachers for special ed and gym, vice principal, guidance counselor, Eric and I, foster mom, and foster care agency representative were all there. The meeting was very positive, in that she is doing very well. In comparison to where she started out last school year, remarkable progress. She makes eye contact with people and engages in conversations or general pleasantries. She accepts and has grown accustomed to the type of curriculum the school and teachers have in place for her. She has a paying job experience at Pulaski High School doing janitorial type duties in the cafeteria. Plus, once a week works in the cafe. Handles money, deals with orders, customers, and sometimes delivery. The cafe is not paid, but it is still learning nonetheless.
Her time to redirect from intense conflicts and management of her anger has turned around from being angry and disruptive for 2 hours to 10-15 minutes. If she does leave the classroom without consent, she still goes to the office or guidance to talk. She talks about things in a peer group that are uncomfortable. And although she isn’t a leader directly, her willingness to comply with directions from her teachers allows her to lead by example.
So why? Why a slap on the face? What about that is such an issue?
Those strides happened while not living with me, her biological mother. I helped move events forward to come to this point, but it’s not quite the gratification I am looking for. I have always wanted to celebrate her accomplishments because I helped her more directly. I was not directly involved per se. Ashleigh has not lived with me. Visitations and overnights for the weekends are different. When I have to pull out of the driveway and watch her walk into someone else’s home – to stay. Well, it is devastating. It makes me feel as though my place in her life is minimal at best.
I know Ashleigh loves me. I know she has learned very valuable things being in our apartment. She can scream for as long as she wants in Terrie’s home. 3 stories and a basement. Plus a huge garage, 4 Harley Davidson’s, one racing motorcycle, a mechanic style garage with smell and damn near every tool a professional would need. On top of that, a soundproof music studio with all the required instruments to make a band. I know belongings do not necessarily define a parent. In my heart of hearts, I know. My mind reminds me about how incompetent I must be in comparison. Professionally and personally.
So, what’s with the date?
Ashleigh was first placed into the foster home one year ago as of November 14th, 2012. She has expressed interest in, some day working with the foster care agency she was placed through, social work, or counselor. Before it was tattoo artist or hairdresser. Not to say there is anything wrong with those professions. There isn’t. Ashleigh never would have considered those vocations had she not been placed in foster care.
I know in my heart of hearts that motherhood is many things. There is no one definition of what mothers do. I have had to go through so many emotions that I can’t even explain. Motherhood, in my experience – in this one area involves sacrifice. I have sacrificed my own feeling to responsibility for Ashleigh by entrusting her well being to … strangers. I have had to talk and text to foster mom – and be pleasant. I have had to be extremely humble and hurt by all I have had to give up. It may be the best thing, and I may know that my sacrifice enabled the positive changes. My sacrifices gave her another chance. But in my mind….
It’s another chance to make me feel completely out of control, uninformed, vulnerable, guilty, and depressed. Despite what my heart says…. My mind tells me that I am a part time mom. I just gave up, and someone took my place. Took the ability to consistently see Ashleigh’s positivity show through.
It should have been me.
It should have been..
But it wasn’t…
I guess for now I will go to bed. My brain feels ready to relax.
I know I have done everything in my power to assure her success. I just don’t like all the sacrifices it has taken to get here. Because I am mom, not her. I have spent damn near every day of her life with her. I just wish….
Forget it. I just want to sleep now.