It’s been awhile. Once upon a time I wanted my blog to be a share of my drive as a writer and a teacher.
Within a month of that decision, it became what we are doing as a family as one of us struggles with having survived a stroke.
What I found as time went on was that I needed more writing, more immediate feedback. So I turned more to Facebook and less to blogging. I could post a status and hemi-moms, and other friends would immediately comment and I would feel less alone.
Sometimes blogging is lonely. It’s like standing in front of an audience, an audience that doesn’t show its face and doesn’t give feedback other than staying in their seats. It’s a bit like Life. Day-to-day life is lonely sometimes, no one stays in their seats. I don’t have family nearby, I don’t have a support system that bops in regularly, and even if I did I probably would only be more self-conscious of my messy, frat-like house. :)
Once upon a time I wanted to be something different than what I have been morphing into, especially these past few years. I wanted to be a leader in learning. I worked so hard to get my degree in education, interrupted for awhile as my life took a different path; I became a young mother. But I doggedly continued my schooling and graduated before 30. Then after a divorce I thought I would step up my career again and focus on becoming a voice in teaching. But I fell in love, married again and became the mom to my two girls.
Daughters are different. Raising daughters after sons is different. One daughter having a disability changed everything. I still have a career but I no longer aspire to be an education guru.
Everything shifted. It had to. This past year made it even more obvious to me: Kath had some major injuries; I couldn’t always attend meetings and committees I had committed to; Kath’s learning issues will increase as she progresses through the school system; and Alex needs me to help her balance between being the sibling of child with a disability and being a kid.
I have to look at the world with different sets of eyes. I look as a woman, a woman in her 40s who has given life to 4 children. A women who has survived divorce. A woman who teaches young students and young writers of all abilities. A woman who has survived tweens at least twice. A mom who has survived tweens. A mom who has made many mistakes, but also done some pretty good things despite inexperience and lack of confidence for my sons. A mom who has continued to make mistakes but also done some pretty good things despite experience, fear and confidence. A wife who has struggled with relationships and knowing how to claim parts of herself in a life where all parts are already claimed.
I’m not often a good wife or friend. I’m not a good daughter, sister, niece. I’m not a good daughter-in-law, sister-in-law or cousin. I don’t have enough energy to do or be more than what I already struggle with.
I live in flight or flight and survival mode most of days. I live in fear. Fear of Katharina’s struggles; her balance issues which lead to falls which sometimes mean a hospital visit; her vision issues; her understanding issues; her friendship issues, her fitting in issues-her becoming a follower issues; her everything issues.
We were walking to the ballgame stadium on Saturday and I was holding her left hand, but I could feel her struggling, she had slowed down and was moving oddly. “What’s up, toots?” “Nothing, just trying to scratch my ear with my hand and it’s hard.” “Do you want to use this hand?” “Nope.” And so she worked at making her cerebral-palsy effected right hand (the one that doesn’t listen well to her brain) scratch an itch she had on her right ear. And it reminded me that…
I don’t only live in fear. I live in awe and amazement. I live feeling honored; Kath once told me that she chose me as her mom because I was the best-while I don’t believe that I am the best, I am honored. I live with someone who struggles to comb her hair, cut her food, dress herself, wipe herself, remember math facts and climb on playground equipment. I live with someone who can’t catch a ball to save her life, but she did learn to throw a frisbee and a ball, so we have hope that we can convince her eyes and coordination to get their act together for catching. I live with someone who can snowshoe, swim, and ride a scooter. I live with someone who knows that many things the rest of us take for granted, will be a challenge, that she will have to learn around her brain spots to be able to do it…differently…that she will have to work 10X harder…but she will do it to the best of her ability…eventually.
I live with someone who teaches me grace. I live with someone who teaches me patience. I live with someone who teaches me resiliency. I live with someone who teaches me strength. I live with someone who teaches me to laugh at myself. I live with someone who teaches me forgiveness. I live with someone who taught me things are different than my plan, but that’s okay. They are still beautiful, still tasty, still bright and shiny. I live with her sister who also teaches me these things every day.
I will never be a leader in education in the way that I envisioned for myself when I graduated from high school. There was a mourning for that version of me this year. I was angry, I felt it slipping through my fingers and I was mad because that version of me could not do what I needed it to do. And damn, did I try! I couldn’t be what I need to be for Kath and Alex and be that leader-woman. And Alex needs me just as much as Kath, just differently.
My career will be a classroom teacher who schleps her bags of papers back and forth, who reads and rereads 9th graders' writings, and tries to get my students to see their own value. I will not be a speaker at conferences. I will not be a presenter at workshops. I will not write that book about teaching.
I will be Chris, Nick, Alex and Kath’s mom. All I have is there. And it is more than enough. What a wonderful revelation. I am not 'giving up,' or 'settling.' I made a very thoughtful, very honest and genuine choice.
Over this past year I have had people grab my hand and say, “Hey, I’m worried about you, are you okay?” “You are tired, I know, but are you okay?” and even just those words make me feel less-alone and more-strong. This year was a struggle as I came to grips with myself and just what my plan, path and new goals will be.
I am not just invisible as the supporting actor in my children’s and husband’s lives (Or my students').
I am me, writing my awareness posts so maybe Kath’s life will be understood by those who fear ‘others’ who are ‘different.’ Maybe my status writing and blog will help people to remember that the siblings of a special needs kid are also people who despite how amazing they are, still need support.
I am still very determined to work on my novel stories. I still have my dreams of being the best teacher my students need and a published writer.
But this year I realized my path swerved again and it’s okay. This summer I am not teaching, or going to conferences or workshops or trainings. I am teaching my girls ‘summer home-school style’ and helping Kath see how to scaffold for herself. We are writing, going to museums, the lake, reading, adding, subtracting, dancing, acting, playing, coloring, visiting family, working on projects around the house, hoping to learn sewing/quilting. I am still writing. I am still listening to my husband as he shares his career dreams that once were mine too.
And I am finally (almost all the way) okay with my new shift.
When one of us had the stroke, we all felt the ripples and we have all dealt with the life shift and change it brought, reidentifing us in our own ways. We have all morphed from who we were before the stroke to who we are during our dealing with the ripples and waves after the stroke.
And here I am.
At least for Today.