Tuesday, March 6, 2018

T, 3/6 = Slice of Life: Welcome back!

It's a Tuesday.  It's Spring Break at my school.  The building is empty, but here I sit, staring at my laptop.  Staring, with tears in my eyes, and I'm not completely sure why.  It's a loaded answer that I surely cannot put into words if I tried, but I can attempt to and start by saying, "Welcome back."

Welcome back to school, me.
In December, my son was feeling unwell, and after a CT scan, we found a massive brain tumor.  He underwent emergency brain surgery and I've been home with him since that time.  It was benign (thank goodness), he's making progress in gross and fine motor, and attended his Montessori school full-time as a trial last week.  That means, I also head back to school, and I'm thrilled to do so.  I visited my students briefly last week and was overwhelmed with happiness to see them, (and even cried happy tears to see their beaming, loving faces and feel their snuggly hugs!)  When I left on maternity leave two years ago, I saw my departure coming.  While it was bittersweet, I knew had months to prepare to separate from them for a bit.  I love my students dearly - the ups and downs of every day.  However, at that time, I was prepared to leave and come back.  With this December's intense, whirlwind of events, I was plunged into a world of unknown that focused around my own son and family, and I felt ripped away from my students back at school.  While I knew hospital/home was where I needed to be in order to help him heal, relearn, and cuddle, I still felt that other feeling, also tugging my heart towards school.  As a teacher, we not only teach, but we love.  I'm elated to be coming back to school officially next week, in part to find my own identity again, but also very much to reassure me that my son is safe and loved at his school, and making progress there.  While there are surely many chapters filled with mixed emotions ahead, I'm glad to be closing this chapter and tucking it away.  While some might not be thrilled to go back to work, I am.  It will keep my mind and hands busy, and my heart full.

Welcome back to school, Wes.
While it marks a milestone for me to return to school, I find it even more amazing that my son has started back to school.  His mass was found in the cerebellar region of the brain - the part that controls motor movement, coordination, and balance.  Prior to knowing he had a brain tumor and surgery, we had noted that his walking wasn't fluid.  We chalked it up to toddler wobbles.  Post-op, we knew he would have struggles in this area still, but we, the neurosurgeons, and the therapists still have no idea to what extent.  Currently, he's a confident crawler and dabbles with attempting to walk, but most often falls when trying to do so.  He's also working on his left-handed use, as he has shown great reluctance to use his left side, post-op.  All this to say, he is making progress daily.  Sometimes it is hard to notice, if you are "in it" with him each day, but as I look back at videos, pictures, or conversations with others, I'm reminded how far along he's come since those dark December days.  His school is an amazing one.  The mission encourages independence and exploration.  He needs these elements more than ever now.  His teachers are compassionate.  My heart broke in a million (good) pieces when one said, "I'm so grateful for his return.  We are all so proud of how far he's come.  He's resilient and he's strong.  We are so lucky he is with us."  As a mother, you feel these things.  You know them.  To hear them from a teacher, someone that you entrust your child with daily, it's a wonderful feeling.  You know he is loved, you know he is supported, and you know he's understood - challenges and strengths in all.

Welcome back to the third trimester, mama.  BabyGirl, you're so close!
Amidst all of the excitement around my first born 2 year old son, people - including me! - occasionally forget that we are also due with a second child in mid-June.  I feel guilty "forgetting" that she's here, growing and moving, but I try to cut myself a little slack, given the whirlwind we've recently been through!  Most pregnant mothers note this final trimester as one filled with aches, pains, and uncomfortable feelings.  While this is true and not to be overlooked easily, I keep thinking that everything we have been through as a wake up call for all things to be grateful for, even if it means being grateful for that fifth wake up in the middle of the night to trot to the bathroom!  As we near the end of the second trimester this week, I think also of how lucky we have been in the timing of her arrival.  She's definitely added a bit of extra complexity (read: emotions!!) to the mix, but don't they always?  We're happy she's still baking away, safely kept in her warm little bubble, oblivious to the outside world and our recent woes and stresses.  While we cannot wait to meet her, we encourage her to keep "cooking", as we continue to have our world settle down as much as possible, and finally start to prepare - mentally, physically, and emotionally for her arrival!  As we welcome her into the third trimester, I look forward to feeling her sweet movements as I settle into bed each night, and secretly appreciate (her? my?) cravings for sweet treats!  Here's to a smooth landing, BabyGirl.

Welcome back to the everyday, Dan.
As my husband and I close this chapter of intense emotions, insurance frustrations, hectic therapy and doctors scheduling, sleepless nights, piled up take-out containers, non-stop visitors/phone calls/text, and worries of the future, we look forward to finding normalcy.  The everyday.  Even, the mundane.  This past weekend, our son visited a goat farm for giggles and romps with baby 'kids'.  My shoe was peed on and soaked through by one of the furry, silly creatures.  I laughed and thought, "What a good problem to have.  I'm here with my child.  He's trying to stand and jump like a goat, and he's HAPPY."  My husband and I joke and ask, "Who are we now?  What just happened?  This type of thing doesn't happen to normal, boring people like us!  This is a bad dream!"  But now, as we are a few months out from the intensity, we are finding more and more routine, more down time, and more "boring" moments, for which I'm unbelievably grateful for.  Weeding, folding laundry, slicing onions, reading picture books while snuggled on the couch, or singing "Baa Baa Black Sheep" for the fourteenth time... This is the everyday I'd been missing these past months.  I didn't know it was something that could even be missed, until all of this happened.  It definitely fits in to the "You don't know what you've got until it's gone," but I'm so glad it is finding its way back again.  This time, I won't let it go overlooked or brushed under the rug.  I'm grateful, even excited for each new day, even if it brings a whole lot of not-much.  Because, that "not-much" is life, and love, and happiness.

Welcome back to more everyday, normal, even boring moments together as a whole, happy family.