Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This isn't what (I thought) I wanted

Tomorrow Dave goes back to work, and a week from tomorrow the students return.  There's definitely a part of me that wishes I was going with him . . . I like getting up early, talking with the other staff (I <3 the KIPP family), being in brainstorming sessions and having philosophical this-is-what-we-want-our-school-to-be-like meetings.  Planning, photocopies, planning, organizing, planning . . . I like the excitement and busy-ness, the sense of new beginnings, that comes with the start of a new year.

But tomorrow I won't be there.  I'll be home, with Maya.  One therapy (OT) here in the morning, followed by a drive in Manhattan for therapy #2 (speech & feeding).  I have two appointments for Maya (ENT & developmental pediatrician) that need to be scheduled, a prescription to pick up at her pediatrician's office, and I have to schedule Parker's vet evaluation for his therapy certificate (classes start Sept 12!).  I have papers to sign and fax to get the agency for Maya's speech & feeding therapy agency changed, again, and will then be a thorn in the coordinator's side until I know that it's done.  The car will need to be moved (alternate side, ugh) and the dog walked.  Cleaning out the house will continue, and various projects will be done.  I'll think about things to blog about (and probably forget them).  I'll be hoping that Maya's croup-iness subsides, and that I won't need to take her in to see the pediatrician.  Maybe we'll have time to hit the playground before the first therapy, maybe not. 

I wasn't the stay at home mom type.

I worked for the first year after Maya was born, and stopped only because of her special needs.  It was nearly impossible to coordinate appointments, arguing with doctor's offices and navigating through the Early Intervention process, from school.  Once therapies were seriously starting, it was hard for me to keep up with what was going on, and the grading and planning that had to be done at home were overwhelming.  I was barely keeping my head above water.

But I really didn't want to leave work.

Like it was yesterday, I can remember sitting in the meeting when I would announce to my team that I wouldn't be returning, and I still couldn't get through it without tearing up.  "This isn't what I want to do, but it's what needs to be done, for now", I said.  And at that point I kind of thought that I would only need to leave for a year---study the therapists, help Maya catch up on her milestones, and bam, I'd be right back. No problem.

Not quite.

So as the back to school buzz crescendos this week, there's a part of me that is bitterly wistful, that's very "Hey!  What about me?  I want to be there too! I was a good teacher!  Don't forget me!"

And this isn't to say that working out of the home is better than being a stay at home mom, and it's not to say that staying at home is better than working.  It's just to paint the picture of how much I loved my work.

If you asked me 3 years ago if I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, I would have said no.

But, as it turns out, I love staying at home with Maya too.  I like playing with her, the playground is fun, it's fun to watch her discover new things (like the decks of cards that she's totally obsessed with now, or her crush on Elmo) and make new sounds (da-da-da and nananana).  I love working with her and Parker, and drawing at the table.  I love the way she makes me laugh, like today when she decided that she needed some iced coffee, just like dad & mom:





If you asked me 3 years ago if I wanted to be a mom to a child with special needs, I would have said no.

But therapies are just a normal part of our days now, and the therapists have become the friends that I really chat with throughout the day (other than my sister).  I love the way they all love Maya, and she makes them laugh, and I like learning from them.  The appointments can be downers, but we make the best of them by choosing really amazing doctors and taking pictures, and videos

Without special needs, I wouldn't know about the amazing parents in the special needs world, the women in the support group that I've met. 

Without special needs, I might have missed celebrating all of the little things (like new sounds).  I'm apathetic by nature, and I might have just "yep, she makes noise.  kids make noise.  whoop-de-doo"-d right past it all.

Without special needs, we wouldn't have Parker.  And his therapy classes start in September . . . who knows where that volunteer work will lead.

This isn't what I thought I wanted . . . but I'm so happy where I am.   A few months ago things were pretty dark, and I wondered about how people come to terms with parenting their children with special needs---how to get past the sadness, the mourning, the wishing-things-were-different.

But I'm past it.  For now, anyway.  I know it's cyclical, and I know sadness will creep in from time to time (sometimes in a crushing way).  But for a while now, it's just been good.

So, KIPP family (and teacher folks in general), I'll miss you all tomorrow, and I'll miss being a part of the energy.  But I wouldn't trade places with any of you, either :)


(PS---Happy 1st day of Kindergarten tomorrow to my nephew Collin!)

18 comments:

Sarah said...

What a beautiful post, Dana!

Anne Marie said...

didn't John Lennon say , 'Life is what happens while we are busy making plans?' You put so many thoughts down so eloquently. I truly believe when we are given the time to think, reflect, question....then we figure out....it might not be our plan, but it is our life.

kris said...

Fantastic post, D. Maya is a lucky, lucky girl.

Maria said...

Dana, I admire you so much. You are such a wonderful mother and Maya is so incredibly lucky to have you. Now, allow me to make you NOT jealous of teachers going back to work:
-my kids have 3 full days starting tomorrow with NO specials, so i have them all day, and every time I think about it, my stomach lurches and I want to crawl into a hole.
-one of my fellow teachers is someone who I'd be happy to see once every 39 years, from a distance
-I have to get up at the buttcrack of dawn (I know you like that, but I can't stand it)
-We're curriculum mapping language arts this year: enough said
-I met my kids today and one of them announced, "Do you guys know what vandalism is? I do."

Keep breathing and know you are doing an amazing job.

Anne Marie said...

didn't John Lennon say , 'Life is what happens while we are busy making plans?' You put so many thoughts down so eloquently. I truly believe when we are given the time to think, reflect, question....then we figure out....it might not be our plan, but it is our life.

Kate said...

We will miss you tomorrow (as we have for the last year) but Maya is so very lucky to have you!

Kaitlin said...

Dana- I haven't read your blog in a while, but this was great! I think there is always a struggle between working and staying home, but I give you so much credit for staying home to give Maya everything you can. I don't think you can ever regret sacrificing in the name of your children! I'm sure its not easy, but hang in there. I'm working full time with Kelsey, but it's sooo hard! Wish there was more of a balance. Take care and say hello to Dave and Maya from Colin, Kelsey, and I.

Karen said...

What a great post. I always read your blog but this is my first comment. I think you have a wonderful attitude about your place in the world right now. I admire all the great work you do with Maya and Parker. :)

Dana said...

Wow, 7 comments! I basically feel famous :)

Sarah, Karen & Kris: Thanks :) And thanks for stopping by!

(Side note: I know more than one Sarah, and more than one Karen, so if you *want* me to know who you are when you post, I'm slightly in the dark. If you don't care or would like to be semi-anonymous, that's cool---I just didn't want to run into you and not say "hey thanks for reading" because I don't know which person you are!)

Mrs. Ryan: I think I had that quote up on my bedroom wall during high school :) I think Maya has shown me that you can't plan much about life, and sometimes it's better to just keep your eyes (and mind) open and go along for the ride.

Maria: I know more than one Maria, both teachers, but I was able to figure out who you were pretty quickly. I lol'd at your comment, of course, and I hope that you & your little vandals had a fun-filled first day :)

Kate: I miss you guys too and I'm sending in Amanda's book with Dave tomorrow!

Kaitlin: Thanks for stopping by! The pictures that your sister puts up on Facebook of Kelsey are soooo super cute. She has such a great smile :) Send my love to her & Colin, too!

Jaymi said...

Once again, so well said. You are a wonderful mommy to Maya. She is so blessed to have you and you to have her. Thanks for always helping me to stop and take a look at my own gifts. It's too bad we live so far away, my Sammie would love Maya as she too is obsessed with Elmo and for some reason thinks she should be drinking iced coffee!

Amy Ragland said...

This was a great post. Like you, I gave up a career I loved three years ago to stay home with my children. There are still days when I wonder what my career would look like if I hadn't given up, and days I would much prefer to not be dealing with people who are only three feet tall. But then again, I realize there's a lot I would have missed. I enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing!

rocketmommy said...

You have such a great heart! Maya's lucky to have such a wonderful mom! (and vise versa) =)

carollee03 said...

I read this when you first put it up but had marked it to come back to because I wanted to let you know that it really touched me - as a (hopefully) future mother and as someone who really believes in her work. It also just reinforced (again) how lucky Maya is to have you and Dave as parents, just as you're lucky to have her as your daughter. Very inspiring, and I love hearing your "voice" of honesty and humor in all your posts!

Sarita said...

You never, ever, ever have to worry about being forgotten, Dana! In fact, I could easily argue that you have already received more staff shout-outs this year than many of us who still work there (not that I'm counting or anything) :). You are still very much a part of the family...heart...legend that is KIPP, yet I, for one, certainly miss seeing you around.

You should join our book club. Therapists are fun to talk to, but so are we :).

Your honesty is beautiful. As always, thank you.

Dana said...

Jaymi: Aw, I wish we were closer, too! Maya would love to play with Sammie :)

Amy: Thanks for stopping by, and sharing your experience. I'm lucky to still keep a toe or two in my old job, since my husband still works there :)

Rocketmommy: Thanks, and thanks for reading!


Carol: Thanks so much :) It's really hard to figure out how to strike a balance, and to step away from KIPP. It's like a gang (in a good way)---you can never really get away, and it's easy to step back in :)

Sarita: You know that the Nieders love our shout-outs! I may touch base with you about book club, that sounds fun, and I think I remember Yaz mentioning it, too.

Wendy said...

Stay at home moms are teachers - it's just a different school and we only get the students we add to our family. Thanks for Amsterdam International since it's a much better description of my premature delivery and all that has come since then with my special "special needs" kiddo!

Amanda said...

LOVE this post... I pray I'm not far off from getting THERE too.

jennifer wilson said...

Our speech therapist recommended that I look up your blog. We have a 23 month old little girl with global delays and no diagnosis(not for lack of trying either!). Just reading this post made my heart happy. You have nailed all of the emotions that I have gone(and still) go through.