My body, in its irritatingly accurate alignment with time, woke me up at 5:29 this morning. My very first thought was “Oh thank god, it’s still nighttime.” Annddd this thought was followed immediately by the dreaded sound of my alarm and a very angry protest from my exhausted mind.
But although I am unlikely to ever stop complaining about rising before the sun, I am ABUNDANTLY thankful that the first day of school has finally arrived. As I’ve said so many times before, I love my son with my whole heart AND his care is all-consuming. Since losing our respite worker 2 months ago, we have not had a single moment of reprieve. (Except for the 1 glorious week Grandma came to visit.)
For a family like ours, a school team is an essential part of the sustainability plan and without that piece, things rapidly degrade. In our meeting at his school yesterday, we were asking how the teacher’s summers had been. One of them remarked that it had flown by so fast. Without missing a beat, Conrad nodded his head and said, “Oh that’s good.” I laughed and told him, “Um, babe, most people aren’t like us. They LIKE summer vacation. I think she meant she was disappointed that it went by so fast.” Lol
But it’s true. For us, this summer was a marathon, each morning Conrad and I exchanging withered looks of demise over our pots of caffeinated beverages. We have literally counted the minutes until this day, for months now. And yet, it’s another one of those situations with plenty of conflicting emotions.
Even though I know my feelings are valid and shared by full-time caregivers all over, I still feel like I “shouldn’t” be so excited about this day. I feel like I “should” be happy to do Oliver’s care every day. And I feel like I “should” want my child home with us instead of with others all day long. But honestly, I don’t.
Without a break to step away from the stress on my body and mind, it’s a losing game for all of us. Instead, I need to split his care with a team so that his quality of life is the best that it can be. I am BURRRRNT OUT. It’s funny, because every time I write that sentence, I really do feel like I am at the most intense exhaustion I have every felt. And I am. But then another year flies by and my body gets weaker and more broken, and I realize that I was nowhere near rock bottom the last time. There are, seemingly, endless levels of burnout to spiral down and each one takes my parenthood down with it.
School is an amazing answer to this problem.
So, today I give thanks for all the teachers, staff, para educators, nurses, administrators, janitors, and bus drivers who make it possible for kids like Oliver to go to school. He LOVES riding that great big bus. He LOVES getting one-on-one attention from people who come in fresh (most days) lol. He LOVES his team there and they love him right back.
Today he’ll bat his beautiful eyes and flirt with the office ladies and make jokes on his talker as he rolls down the hallway in his wheels. Today he’ll laugh and play on the mat and read books with Miss Melissa as they both navigate the first day sleepiness. Today he’ll go out and be in the world and we will all take a much-needed deep breath and have some space… riigghhhtt after I drive to the school and drop off the seizure meds my sleep deprived brain forgot to send with him this morning.
And I do have to say, although I would never EVER choose to get up at 5:30 in the morning, having the privilege of watching the sun’s rays kiss the mountains with their pink glow is a worthy reward.
So, I’ll happily take this in-person school thing as long as it lasts during for Global Pandemic Season 2.
Peace & Love people. Congratulations to all the tired parents that survived another summer and are experiencing their first moments of silence in quite a while.
Now go take a nap!!