God, it’s really happening. In less than a week, I’ll have all three kids in school, again, for the first time in four years. SO MANY EMOTIONS happening right now, all over the place, and I’m feeling overwhelmed and slightly inadequate and mostly afraid of it all crashing down again.

Sam did great for the orientation, and there’s every reason to think that it’s going to continue to be great. There’s a TON to still straighten out, and getting used to a whole new IEP team is confusing and tricky and I’m constantly wondering if I’m missing a step or should I be doing more.

Jessie started her new job at Tougas Family Farm this morning, she’s going to be working through the apple season. I was nervous about her getting a job – she’s got a lot on her plate this year, junior year, three AP classes and she’s still not done with her summer internship. But she really wanted a job, really wanted THIS job in particular, and I’m so happy for her. I’m still concerned about her health – she’s low-grade not healthy. Daily headaches, lightheaded, nausea… nothing debilitating, but still not in a position where I’d feel like she’s totally healthy all the time.

My Julie is so ready to go back to school. I know I say this every summer, but I always go into September swearing that I need to make sure she’s signed up for ACTIVITIES all summer, and then every spring, I talk myself out of spending hundreds of dollars to shove her into activities she’ll hate and beg me to let her stay home. But then she’s sitting at home all summer, watching too much television. Insert dramatic sigh here… I’m hoping for a more active and engaged fall.

The other hiccup I’m facing – is that I’m actually going to have all three kids in school starting next week. Four hours a day, every day, with nary a responsibility. I’m mostly too overwhelmed with figuring out everything for next week to panic about it yet. But after the first week or so, I’m going to have to make a plan that’s a little more comprehensive than “… I don’t know – maybe I’ll read more.”

Okay, I admit it. I’m straight up terrified of Monday.

Monday, Sam starts back to school. For the first time in four years, only now he’s going back to a new school, with people I don’t know and trust even less. With a zillion other kids – and with the added problem of being LEGALLY BLIND.

We’ve done everything possible to get him to this point. From last summer when he first said that he’d like to try going back to public school up until now, everything we’ve done has been working towards this goal. Fighting for the right location, arguing over what services he’s going to get, getting documentation and letters and God, so much more. Everything comes down to this.

And it’s the ideal set up for a first day. The school has set up an orientation for Monday and Tuesday of next week, and school formally starts the following week. So the two hardest things about going back to school will be split up. He doesn’t even have an official “first day” because he’ll have two half first days. This is the pep talk I’ve been giving him off and on over the past few weeks.

I’m trying so hard to stay positive and relentlessly optimistic. He’ll be fine. Of course he will. He’s been through way worse than this – and I’ll be right there, available via phone, the whole time. It’ll be a walk in the park. Easy breezy lemon squeezy.

But the hard reality that I won’t show him is that I’m unbelievably terrified of what Monday brings. What if he can’t do it? What if it’s too hard? It’s such a HUGE change, he’ll be out of sync with everyone else. He’s had four years at home with me and his sisters, how is he going to fit in with the average 12/13 year old boy? His education is all over the place – he can’t spell, at all. His reading isn’t a hell of a lot better, but it ‘s because he can’t see all of the letters all of the time. But he’s so damn smart – he does all this math in his head, and his vocabulary is way above that of an average seventh grader.

He’s super nervous, and we’re bouncing off of each other in a way that’s not at all helpful. I don’t think he knows how panicked I am, but every time he talks about how nervous he is (and my God, the fact that he can articulate it is amazing and fantastic), my heart squeezes a little tighter. He knows it’s irrational, he knows it’s not based in anything real, that he’ll be able to handle whatever comes his way – but he’s still super stressed and tense.

In order to pull this off, I have to be able to shove all my own fears and panic (and to give an example, I literally started crying earlier when the head of the Special Ed department emailed me back about an aide that he’s going to have) and pretend that I’m completely and totally confident that he’ll be fine. And I am.

Because while the truth is, Sam is going to be fine, and he’s going manage whatever Monday throws at him with grace and humor, the reality is that going back to school is still a huge deal. He couldn’t do it before, it was so awful, we had to pull him out of school entirely, but not before fighting like hell for two months to get him back into the classroom. It was awful and traumatic, and followed by a horrific accident that changed everything.

Sending him to school on Monday isn’t the hardest thing we’ve done. Not by a long shot. But it feels that way this weekend.