"ETA Tonight?"

 Do you ever get loving texts from your spouse at the end of a long day? I sure do, in fact, my wife is great about it, and many times they include truly heartfelt sentiments, such as “hope you had a great day”, “love you and grateful for you”, “thank you for all your help”. My favorite, however, is the most simple of all, and one I received the very night I’m writing this: “ETA tonight?”.

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 It just so happens to be a work night for me, which being a teacher during the school year, are both dreaded yet extremely needed, however it can put stress on my normally love texting spouse, especially since it means she’s the one taking our special needs child to one of a million therapies.

 Of course, it always seems like there’s a million therapies on the calendar, and from the beginning of the school year there are always multiple competing calendars. There is one for my school year, one for my fellow teacher spouse, and one for my son, both for school, and for the million after school therapies.  Just thinking about it makes me shiver, and I can’t help but wonder when my next legitimate break might be, but I can’t get too distracted, because I’ve gotten that most heartfelt of all texts... “ETA Tonight?”

 Let’s be serious, we all treasure the moments of space and quiet we get in those select few times. Currently, as I sit in the relative solitude of our local public library, a comfortable chair and work table facing a window with a view of the local creek that meanders through our town, cup of coffee at the ready and wifi stream overflowing, I consider how wonderful this is...for me. But then, the loving text about ETA rolls in, and I’m reminded, first of all, of the reality of the time I have, which is not very long.

My focus then turns to my wife, who is at home tonight with our son. She is at this very moment helping to get him to bed. This means going through all of our nightly rituals, beginning to fight the good fight to help our son go to sleep, but without me. Then I begin to think, does she need some help, is my son not in a great mood tonight and is she taking the brunt of his anger and frustration. Is she at her wits end and needing me to come to her aid?

 Slowly, I take a sip or three from my cup. I close the riveting binder of math curriculum I was excitedly working on. I stopped thinking of myself, and instead thought of my spouse, and my son, and how that simple two word phrase texted to me is enough to get me to move out of my comfort zone, and in doing so, bringing comfort to those I love.

Written by John Felageller

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John lives in Northbrook, IL with his wife Elizabeth and his son Christopher (ASD), and is currently an Elementary Teacher at a Charter School in Chicago, IL.  He is a regular contributor to Key Ministry’s Special Needs Family blog, and is both a live presenter and on Key Ministry’s Facebook page. He coordinates a Special Needs Dads meet-up in his community and works with several other local Special Needs organizations that serve both parents and children.


Connect with John on his Facebook page here.