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.
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!)