Lily has always struggled. She was such a difficult pregnancy, with injections every week to try and stop me from losing her, and scans every week to see if she was still alive. After 7 miscarriages I really didn't believe that she would survive, and sadly I really didn't enjoy a single moment of the pregnancy.
But from the second that she was born I loved her with every single miniscule part of my being. And I knew from day one that she was incredible and that my bond with her could never be broken.
But from day one she struggled. Born allergic to dairy and gluten, she screamed and cried until we found her a special formula to feed her. Then as soon as she started to try to communicate we realised there was something wrong and at 2 she was diagnosed with verbal dyspraxia and had to have speech therapy constantly until last year. At only three she had a terrible 6 month long episode that led to her seeing a psychiatrist and manifested itself with a self loathing that completely broke my heart.
When she started school she struggled even more. It was not a school that understood her (although she had one wonderful, amazing teacher who could completely see her for who she is) and she was glaringly different to all the children in her year. She has always loved to learn and has an amazing capacity and thirst for knowledge, but school made her feel isolated and different and just plain wrong. She hated going to school. She hated it so much that there were days when I had to carry her to the car in her pyjama's, just so that I could get Bella to school on time, and then drive home and fight to get her dressed, to drive her to school an hour late. She hated it so much that she would be crying before she even woke up in the mornings. I once turned up early for an assembly, and watched unseen, as Lily stood alone in the playground, for the whole of playtime. The next day I lied to school and said she had a dr's appointment and took her out of school for the whole of lunch time, purely so she didn't have to spend it alone.
When I made the decision to move away from Leeds, I knew that we had to go somewhere that would allow Lily to understand that she is truly wonderful. And when we brought her to the Island for the first time, I could see her visibly relax. I could see her breathe out, finally. And when we visited the school and learned that there were only 12 children in her entire year, and she talked to them all and wanted to start there and then, we knew we were doing the right thing.
3 weeks after we moved here, Lily and I went for a walk on the beach, and she literally marvelled at the beauty. As we walked along she looked at me and said " I can never imagine being angry here. Thank you for knowing that this would make me feel right". She said those exact words and I stood there and cried.
Since we've been here, Lily has discovered that she's not different, or unusual. She's discovered a class full of children that want to learn the way she does, and that feel the way she does. She has transformed from a child stood alone on the edge of the playground, to a child voted by her peers to be on the school council. She's transformed from a child desperately pretending to be the same as everyone else, to being a child that comes home almost every day with an invitation to go to a friends to play.
When I told her teacher that she struggled at her last school, she shook her head and said these words "Lily fits in so well here that I can not imagine the class without her".
Those words are some of the best words I've ever heard.