Katie is a licensed professional counselor and the director of resources at Metro Relief, a local nonprofit organization that provides education and support for underemployed people. She and her husband Jason, a business practices consultant for Pioneer Natural Resources Company, live in The Colony with their 13-year-old daughter Emma, who has double hemiplegia cerebral palsy and pervasive developmental delays.
6:30AM The alarm clock goes off, and our family’s day begins. My husband and I shower and dress before we tag-team to get Emma up and ready for her school day.
7AM I wake up Emma and dress her while she is still in bed. We start with her socks and move up until we get to braids and hair bows at the end. After she is completely dressed, her dad comes in to move her into her power wheelchair. They sit on the edge of the bed to sing and play a bit while I make her breakfast and pack her lunch. Like a lot of special needs families, we have getting ready in the morning down to a perfectly timed science!
7:30AM Emma drives her wheelchair into the kitchen to eat breakfast and play with me while we wait for her school bus to arrive.
8AM The school bus pulls up, and the driver toots the horn to let us know she’s here. We have been lucky enough to have the same driver, Ms. Zelda, for several years. Emma loves her dearly and is always excited to see her in the mornings. Once Emma is safely off to school, I rush around to do a few last-minute chores, like emptying the trash and starting the dishwasher, and then I’m out the door for work.
8:30AM After answering a few emails left from the day before, I begin setting up for my team of volunteers who will come in this morning to sort donated clothing for Metro Relief’s clothing closet. Today’s volunteers will include mothers and sons from the local chapter of Young Men’s Service League and students from The Colony High School’s special education classes. My favorite part of the week is hosting the special education class to practice life skills with our clothing closet team.
9AM The first volunteers arrive, and we get to work sorting through bags of donations that have come in over the last week.
10AM While the clothing closet volunteers are working, I meet with the pastor of a local congregation that partners with Metro Relief on a job mentoring program. This program helps unemployed and underemployed people identify and achieve careers that are more stable and satisfying. We discuss changes we want to make in our fall programming.
12PM Today is the leadership luncheon with the local chamber of commerce, so I head out the door to attend the meeting in our city hall annex building. We live in a community in which local businesses, congregations and government offices work alongside each other closely, so chamber gatherings are excellent opportunities make connections.
1:30PM It’s back to the office to work on some marketing materials for an upcoming fall literacy festival.
2:30PM It can be tough for Jason and me to carry on meaningful confersation while we are also attending to Emma in the evenings, so we try to squeeze in a phone call during the day. Today is one of those lucky days when we are both free from meetings at the same time and can fit in a midday chat.
3PM Another crew of volunteers will be arriving soon to open up the food pantry and clothing closet to the community, so now it’s time to do some of the prep work for this second team of people.
3:30PM The food pantry and clothing closet are all set up, so we open the doors to our guests from the community. We serve approximately 450 families per month through these programs.
6:15PM The last guest is finished shopping, so I help the volunteers clean up and shut down the facility before heading home.
6:30PM I live only minutes away from work, so the drive home is quick. Emma has already been home for a couple of hours with her nanny. For the last several years, our family has been blessed with some amazing help caring for our daughter. Three sisters from a very close-knit family in our community have each nannied for us. The oldest of the three sisters is our current caregiver, and her family is like Emma’s second family. Anytime Emma is with her, we know she is being extravagantly loved and carefully looked after. As many special needs parents know, finding child care for special kids can be a challenge. Emma’s nanny is truly an answer to prayer for us.
7PM Jason has fought the good fight through Dallas-Fort Worth traffic and is now home. Emma shouts her usual “Daddy’s home!” when she hears him walk through the door. Emma, in general, has a sunny disposition, but she is always at her sunbeam-iest when all three of us are together. We have dinner, followed by some playtime on Emma’s touchscreen computer. Her favorite activity is an educational website called Starfall; she loves to play the phonics games in particular.
8PM It takes Emma a fair amount of time to wind down from a busy day, so we start our nighttime routine early. She picks out books she wants to read and songs she wants to sing, and then Jason and I take turns playing and singing with her while the other parent loads dishes and changes out laundry.
9PM Bedtime is creeping up on us, so I wrestle Emma into her PJs and brush her teeth, while Jason loads Emma’s stuffed toys into her bed and comes to help lift her into bed and tuck her in.
9:30PM Jason and I finally get a chance to catch up with each other in person. We listen to Emma singing sleepily to herself in her bed as we talk.
10:30PM Even though we are both natural night owls, it is time for Jason and me to call it a night.