I look up at the clock and realize I have to run. Somehow, for a brief moment, I had actually stopped worrying about my child. But now that the clock ticks 2:28.
I have to hop in the car and head to pick him up from school.
Immediately, my stomach starts to turn, my head starts to spin, and I started to wonder of all the possibilities of what’s gonna happen when I got to pick him up.
- Will he walk out on his own with a smile on his face?
- Will he come barreling out with his aid close behind?
- Will today be another day where I watch as the rest of the children file out of the school one by one, each minute passing by slowly, without a sign of my child?
- Will today be the day that I see his teacher appear through the children, walking slowly towards my car, looking down at the ground?
- Will today be the day that I have to pull my car out of the pickup line to park my car?
- Will today be another day where I walk into the school and be met by a slew of teachers, and therapists, and principals trying to calm my child?
The waiting and anticipation is almost too much to bear.
I take a deep breath.
I turn the corner.
I see that the cars are already piling up.
I look around and I notice that I don’t see anyone out here waiting for me yet. That could be a good sign, right?
2:44 At this point, I still have six minutes until the school bell rings.
Six minutes that most moms in the pickup line get to scroll their Facebook, check their emails, talk to their best friend on the phone, or enjoy a cup of hot coffee before they set it down and forget about it.
I could check through my to do list.
I could call and make an appointment for the doctor that I keep forgetting to do, but instead I stare at the clock and I stare at the front door.
And with each passing moment, my stomach gets tighter, and more nervous, and a little more fearful.
What am I gonna be met with today?
2:51 I see a football flip over the top of the cars.
It’s the first sign of a child.
Not my kid.
He wouldn’t be caught dead near a football. But that means that I’m closer to finding out what today was like.
In between the cars, I see a teacher.
Not my kid’s teacher.
The sidewalks are starting to fill up.
Kids are hopping on their bikes.
A little girl just waved at her mom.
Those aren’t my kids.
I’m still far enough back in the pickup line that I can see reflections of children walking down the sidewalk in the window, but none of them have that bright yellow Pikachu hoodie on.
Still, not my kid.
2:52 It’s been two minutes since all the kids let out, and there’s not a sign of my child.
I have to be hopeful and believe that there’s not a reason to worry yet.
Maybe it’s just taking him a while to pack up his things.
Maybe he got excited about the last project he was doing.
Maybe I’m not far enough up in the line yet for him to see me.
Or maybe … he’s in crisis mode again.
This is not what I dreamed the pickup line would be like.
I see all the pickup line and mommy rants on my Facebook feed and I wonder, “How do they have time to have such rants?” Aren’t they anxiously awaiting their child?
Aren’t they worried to find out if their child had a good day?
Aren’t they fighting off a ball of nerves in their stomach as each minute passes by?”
That’s when I realize, this isn’t something that all parents deal with.
For them, this 20 minutes of waiting is their most blissful time of the day.
They are actually by themselves for a minute.
There is silence.
They can hear their own thoughts.
They can make a phone call.
And they can even rant on Facebook if they want to.
But those of us that have uniquely different kids…
We fear the unknown.
But more than anything, we hope.
We hope that this will be the day.
The day that our kid will come running out of the school building just like all the other kids, with a smile on their face, excited to greet us.
2:55 It’s now five minutes past the bell. Will today be one of those days?
I see blond hair. His teacher has blond hair. Maybe this is her.
I don’t see him.
Oh, no. I don’t see him.
Oh, please God, tell me that today it was not another crisis day.
Yes, it’s her. It’s his teacher.
I scan her entire body.
She’s got a quick step.
Her eyes are open wide.
And wait, what’s that?
She has a smile on her face.
She’s nodding her head.
She’s giving me a thumbs up.
Today WAS one of those days.
And there’s that Pokemon sweater.
And there’s that smile.
And his eyes are wide and he’s running towards the car excited to see me.
Days like this are few and far between but, they happen.
And days like this? This is what gives me hope.
This is why we keep treading through these treacherous waters, exploring these daring adventures, and embracing at the unknown. These are the days that give us hope.
Are you a parent who dreads the school pick up line? Do you have a “uniquely different child”? Are you in need of a “Special Needs” parent support group? Please know you are not alone, and there is such a group that supports parents and helps you find tools to get through your day. Our PEP (Parents Empowering Parents) support group meets the 3rd Wednesday of the month from 6-8 pm at the main NAMI San Diego office, 5095 Murphy Canyon Rd, Ste 320, San Diego, CA 92123. Come and meet other parents with similar stories to your own, who can sympathize with what it feels like to walk in your shoes. We offer one hour of sharing and caring, followed by a one hour presentation of a professional who is also a parent, and who will offer us coaching tools. So we can find the hope we need to successfully make it through each day.
This story originally appeared on Lemon Lime Adventures, and you can find the original post here.