Letting Go

The beginning of the school year saw a lot of changes for both my kids, but more so for Ava, who would leave the security of the home school environment for the “big time.”  It’s no secret that I was apprehensive about homeschooling her last year, if for no other reason than she is sometimes the equivalent of a restaurant’s worst customer – moody, demanding, impatient, condescending, and impossible to please.  I knew it would be the challenge of a lifetime and that one week of teaching her would make chasing her around the house with an insulin-filled syringe look like a stroll in the park.  In the end, though, it was a wonderfully rewarding experience to be instrumental in her reading and learning and it ultimately gave us the peace of mind we so desperately needed.  So, when she graduated from PA Cyber’s kindergarten, I registered her for first grade in the big house where her older brother goes and began the process of letting go.

It wasn’t hard, really.  I’ve always known she needed to go; she spent a great deal of time with me and she needed to be in a learning and social environment with her peers.  She’s clung to me since birth, and she would let no one hold her save for me, her dad, or her brother.  She’d freak when anyone else touched her and it was so bad that no one could talk to her, let alone look at her.  This proved to be especially challenging at holidays, when the grandparents came bearing enough gifts to fill a U-Haul.  Sure, she’d take the presents, but don’t you dare watch her open them.

It was always easier for me to encourage her to venture forth – maybe because I’d already had the experience of letting go of Owen.  He is, though, a different social animal.  He loves to be around people and other children.  There is nothing shy about him.  I enrolled him in the 3-year-old program only because all of my friends’ 3-year-olds were entering preschool and I didn’t want him to be “left behind.”  His father thought he wasn’t ready, but by the time school started 6 months later he was the one telling me that Owen needed it, as I reluctantly and tearfully drove him to his first day. 

When she was two years old, I signed Ava up for Mommy and Me at Owen’s beloved former preschool – where my hopes of easing her into preschool and socialization were quickly dashed by her reluctance to do anything without one arm wrapped around my leg.  She lasted only a month in the 3-year-old program the following year; she just couldn’t handle the separation from me and her blood sugars would skyrocket.  A year later we’d try again and she absolutely loved it, running down the hall to Mrs. K’s 4-year-old class and her best friend without so much as a second glance at me.  Her blood sugars, however, were still wild – soaring well into the 200s and suddenly plummeting to as low as 40.

It was her rollercoaster ride with blood sugars in preschool that last year that drove my ex-husband to insist on homeschooling her.  Um, I mean – me homeschooling her.  It was a hot topic for months, and it seemed everyone had to weigh in, and I did register her for kindergarten in the elementary school because I was concerned about what was really best for her overall.  In the end, like always, he won the argument and I enrolled her with PA Cyber a month before school began.  I accepted my assignment as I always do – as a situation to be faced head on and with as much grace, strength and caffeine as I could muster.  I believed it was the best thing at the time – I guess I, too, felt relieved to keep her close to home another year rather than send her away from our watchful eyes and glucose meter.

Nevertheless, two weeks after our divorce was final we drove the kids together to their first day of school.  I watched with teary eyes and nervous excitement as my 6-year-old daughter climbed the stairs of the elementary school with her big brother.  We enlisted Owen, a six-year veteran, to make sure she found her way to her teacher.  It was difficult, that first day.  I went home and started on some project I can no longer recall, in an effort to stay calm until the first blood sugar test and phone call came from the school nurse.  In the week that followed, I would go into the school 3 times a day, to assist with testing and bolusing for lunch, snacks and corrections.  

Ava did a 360 that week, grabbing onto my hand or arm and refusing to let go whenever I’d come in.  She’d been so excited to start school, but suddenly – maybe because of the divorce and tension that continued in the house – she couldn’t walk into the school unescorted by me, and even then I had to enlist her guidance counselor to get her down the hall to her class.  She reluctantly let go of me, red-faced and teary eyed, as Ms. B gently took her hand and softly coaxed her to come see her friends.  I stopped going in to assist the nurse after that, deciding that it was best for Ava not to see me and learn to trust the nurse to take care of her.  And so began my daily telephone relationship with Mrs. Johnson.  The secretaries in the office knew me on sight, so that every morning we’d walk in and they’d call Ms. B to come for Ava.  And then one day, several weeks later, Ava walked in with Owen and me, and she walked right by Ms. B without stopping.  Ms. B and I shared a wide-eyed smile and stared after Miss Ava, who was tripping down the hall with her oversized backpack without ever looking back.

Ava loves school.  I can now do the PDO (as Owen calls Parent Drop Off), pulling up to the curb – both  kids jump out and run up the steps to school.  Ava tells me all about her classes, about her teacher’s love of Elvis, about how naughty Zachary is, the bad things Anthony says, and how cute Riley is.  And I’ve seen him – he IS cute.  And from what I can tell, the feeling is mutual.  Owen calls him her boyfriend; Ava insists he’s “just a friend” with a sly smile in my direction.  Already, at 6, she’s very in tune to the “important” things in school: her clothes, hair style and social activities.  At pick up, while Owen is running for the car, Ava is lagging behind me, craning her neck toward the busses scoping out friends to say goodbye to, even hugging girlfriends.   

One true blessing – if one can call it a blessing – is that she shares a classroom with one of two other Type 1 kids in the school.  On the days I was still going in to the nurse’s office, the two of them would be in there together, looking over each other’s shoulders to see what the blood sugars were.  There’s a certain comfort there, that these two young children share and understand about each other.  She told me early in the school year that she was annoyed that he was always holding doors for her, and I had to tell her how nice it was that he has such good manners and care for her.  I remembered how he walked beside her at the Walk-a-thon in September.  Just the other day she asked me, guess who I think is cute?  I said, Riley?  She said, well, besides himI give up.  Chase, she said.  I’m going to marry him. Good lord.  It starts.

New Year, New Goals – Part 2

New Year, New ResolutionsGoals


Since I came up with some good ones last year, I’ll start this list by borrowing from last year’s.

I will continue to seek out Joy wherever, and whenever, I can.  I will not let the bloodsuckers steal it from me.  And I will make sure my children have it, as much as possible, in spite of the things I cannot control. 

I will do my best to give back where I can. I’m not in the best position right now to assert this, but I know I can continue to be a support to those people who need to know they’re not alone.  I can still offer a smile to a stranger, hold a door, express gratitude for little things.  I want to be the example to my children of how people are supposed to treat others.  I watched my son hold the door at school yesterday morning for other students and a teacher to pass through, and it made me so proud. 

I will make sure the people I love and cherish, know.  For sure.  Especially the man who deserves it most of all.

I will fulfill another dream this year.  I don’t know which one.  Got a list.  It’s private – I’m superstitious.

I will start eating right again.  It’s not a surplus of Oreo cookies or chocolate I’ve been binging on.  I’m lacking color, substance.  I’m lacking food, period.  I promise to eat.  Nobody and no- thing is worth starving yourself for.

I will make time for me.  It’s important, I get it.  Real time, not time spent driving to and from school, work, or my lawyer’s office.

I will continue to be a great mom, and I will make sure both of my children never have toquestion my love for them.   I will continue to nurture their hearts, minds, and souls.  I will continue to feed them healthy foods (and a little junk food mixed in – for balance), help with homework, hold them when they’re sad, listen when they’re angry, nurse them when they’re sick, talk to them about anything or nothing at all.  They need and deserve a stable, secure home and they will always find that here – with me.

I will continue to fight for my daughter’s health.  No need to expand on this.  Goes without saying.  And I continue –as I always have – to pray for the cure to end Type 1 Diabetes for all.

I will make positive affirmations every day.  Todd suggested this during the most suffocating days of my stress and sadness.  I’ve already started.  You have to envision the life you want to live.  Envision the Joy, see the Joy, feelthe Joy.

I will continue to thank God for the blessings He has given me.  I’ve been so blessed throughout my life, and although the last few months have tested my endurance and faith … He has not let me down!  A friend recently posted on Facebook: Many delays in our lives have a divine origin. God is rarely ever early but He is never late according to His timetable. Relax and believe that your times are in His hands. 

I will keep looking forward, and never back.  2011 was the year of change. It was wonderful. It was painful.  I don’t want to remember any of it, except the part where I found peace again, and the magical night my fiancé created for us.

I will start running again. I need to.  I gave it up because I just couldn’t do it.  But it recently occurred to me that feeling Joy again requires a physical kick in the ass.  And, I will run two more 5k’s this year.  Maybe even the Warrior Dash – we’ll see.  Physical pain and being covered in mud wasn’t on the top of my to-do list, but it could be very cathartic.

I will finish my course that I started last July.  I started an online MTE course last summer, in an effort to use my English background to hopefully become gainfully employed.  It’s been a slow process to date, but I’m picking up the pace as we speak.

And with that – I will get my financial life in order.  It’s been a mess.

I will finish reading at least 6 novels this year.  I have barely read anything entertaining in months.  I’m ready to lose myself in someone else’s world for a few days.

I will keep blogging.  I really enjoy writing creatively, and I will keep it up as long as it’s relevant and not too self-serving, as I’ve noticed so many bloggers are.  I’m very self-critical when it comes to my writing; I am always wondering whether what I’m composing is really interesting to anyone else but me.  Hence, many posts never made it past this editor.  I want to write things that affect others and make them want to keep reading.  And so, to that end, I’d love to see more followers!

New Year, New Goals – Part 1

New Year, New ResolutionsGoals 

So last year, on the brink of declaring my independence once and for all, I posted my New Year’s Resolutions.  And I did quarterly updates, but gave up after September in the midst of the Perfect Storm.  I haven’t looked at them since.  Today, I did.  This is what I learned.  Here is my report card for 2011.

I will continue to seek out Joy wherever, and whenever, I can.  And show my children how to find it too.  Grade:  B-.  I did really, really well most of the year, but the storm last quarter has all but blown out my Joy candle… with a few exceptions.  I worked hard to show my kids the Joy too, without crying too much in front of them.  All months figured into the average – B minus sums it up.

I will do my best to give back where I can – after all, we’re all in this together.  Grade: D.  Maybe I’m a little hard on myself, but my preoccupations with my problems really downgraded my ability to help anyone, even myself.  If being supportive to others who were struggling last year, and treating the world at large with kindness on a daily basis in spite of my own inner struggles counts, then I guess I didn’t really fail at this one.  I was not able to participate in the JDRF Walk for a Cure this year, and it’s what really knocked off more than a few points from my own personal scoring system. 

I will fulfill at least one dream this year. Grade: A+.  I fulfilled three.  I wanted to live a better, emotionally healthier life… MY way, on MY terms – finally.  I did it. And I wanted to have real love, that honors, respects and cherishes.  Got it.

I will make sure the people I love and cherish, know. Grade: B.  This is a hard one to judge.  I think they know.  I tried to tell them.  Do they know?

I will speak my truth.  Even if you don’t like it.  Grade: A+.  If you’ve been following along, then you already know from updates that I did this.  It was awesome. And oh-boy… there were people who didn’t like it!  But, since they were only 3 people out a hundred, I’d say I was right.

I will continue running.  It feels good and it’s for ME.  And I will run my first 5k this year.  Grade: B-.  I ran.  It felt good.  “They” said I couldn’t do it, but I did.  This is dream #3.  AndI ran two 5k’s last year, placed in the second race on one of the hottest days of the summer – booyah! (Sticking tongue out.)  However, I stopped running in September when things got really stressful – which is when anyone with half a brain knows you should never stop.  Grade after September: F+.  In the spirit of giving myself a break, the “plus” is for that one breakaway run I did at the playground two weeks ago.

I will continue to fuel my body with healthy food, … blah blah blah. Grade: D.  I fell off the nutrition wagon BIG time this year, and hit my head on a nice big wedge of cheese fries chased by beer and beer and more beer.  Hard to eat under stress.  Not hungry.  When food came my way, it resembled more of a deep-fried stew of vitamin-deficient salts and sugars.  Apparently I have a wooden leg too – all the alcohol I drank disappeared without effect to my psyche or my waistline.  I lost more weight.  Grade for pants slipping down off my hips:  F.

I will not make excuses for my actions, emotions or decisions.  I will own them and try to be better for me, not you.  Grade: B.  I did not make (too many) excuses, but the downside is that I often fell back on that excuse of not excusing myself for moments when I might not have considered someone else’s feelings about it.

I will make time for me.  Grade: A-.  You know I did this – I wrote about it enough.  And, I stopped trying to justify it.  There is a problem with too much time on one’s hands, though.  More on that in another blog.

I will continue to be a great mom, and I will make sure both of my children never have toquestion my love for them.  Grade: A.  And I know they don’t.  God knows I have had more than ample opportunity – er – justification to throw someone under a bus for what could be more than generously called bad behavior and lack of integrity, but I did not.  I protected my children’s love for their other parent by supporting their time with him and never speaking ill of him.  In front of them, I mean. (Hey, I never said I was perfect.)  I AM still a great mom.  No one can take that away from me.

I will continue to fight for my daughter’s health.  Grade: A+.  I will never fail at this one.  It’s not an option.  Never even entered my mind.

I will continue to assert my needs as a human being.  For the record, I’m not selfish, I’ve just spent way too many years sacrificing myself for the sake of others.  I just deserve a break too, like everybody else.  This year, I take my life back.  Grade: A-.  At the risk of redundancy, we already established this.  I did it.  I took my life back.  The minus is for forgetting periodically thatI need to give myself a break.

Now, on to 2012.