I know I’ve been AWOL.
When Callum started school, I was unexpectedly taken aback by the awful affliction of anxiety. Serious anxiety. The kind where your heart skips a beat, you breakout in cold sweats, and you curl up in a ball, anxiety.
I was done. I felt beaten. I was finally willing to accept that I was cri-du-f’n-shattered. Exhausted. Withdrawn. Banging my head against a wall (figuratively, not literally! One head-banger at our place is enough!) and needing help.
…all this, two weeks out from the family weekend and conference that I was planning for 30 Australian and New Zealand families affected by Cri Du Chat Syndrome. At least life was interesting 🙂
When Callum started school at the end of January, I was reminded of how easy the whole process for him had been. I had completed his enrolment forms when he was six months old. I knew where he would go to school before he was born. I knew a handful of parents, students and staff at the school, I had his uniforms fitted months before his start date, and I knew he would be able to articulate any concerns that he had. All of a sudden, the uncertainties of Claire’s schooling hit me full force.
Where is Claire going to go? What support is she going to need? If I’m not there, how will I know about her day? How am I going to manage two drop offs and two pick ups, and find time to read two newsletters (perhaps Callum’s first newsletter of 76 pages was what sent me into this spin!!)??? Do I change Callum’s school? Do I try to keep them separated? Do we need to move house? Will I ever again be able to bring in an income? …?..?…?
To top that off, I had more ‘me time’. Time became available to ponder all of these possibilities and queries. While Claire napped each day, my head spun with the ‘what ifs’, the ‘how on earths?’, and the ‘if onlys’, that in the past two years have only had milliseconds to cross my mind, with the perpetually effervescent Callum by my side…in my face…and as the blissful distraction that I had somewhat taken for granted until he was gone….
He’s gone to school.
In what seems like my former life, I was a teacher, and for a couple of years, prior to the introduction of Prep in Queensland, I was a teacher of Year One, which was the first year of formal schooling. My head says, “He’s just going to school”, but my heart has reacted so differently! Being on the other side of the classroom for the first time (as a parent), is quite remarkable. All of a sudden, the influence of a teacher on their students becomes much more obvious, and I am grateful for the advantageous start to school that my little man has been given. I miss him immensely, but I know he is in fabulous hands, and from the reaction that I have been having to his new situation, I think that school is likely a much-deserved respite from his sister, and his (neurotic) mother!
For Claire, selecting a school will be less simple. Like every step of the way with our gorgeous girl, it will no doubt be a decision that is pondered, and calculated, most likely right up until the few months before she is set to start. We need to consider whether full integration, partial integration, special education, or a combination of a variety of educational settings will be best for her. There are so many factors that need to be considered, including her mobility, her communication skills, whether she is toilet trained, and what is practically possible for our family.
For a mum with a history of logically planning her future wherever possible, and preparing for things well ahead of time, this has caused anxiety. But, symptoms of anxiety can be managed, and with support, finding the strength to push aside these worries for the time being can be possible.
Right now, I am finding my feet, accessing supports, and acknowledging the changes in my life that I haven’t necessarily invited, but I have accepted. My penchant for planning has taken a kick to the teeth, and my love of surprises has been embraced, with a new perspective of “que sera, sera; whatever will be, will be” (a song strongly laced with visions of my mother and I sitting at an organ in Innisfail, circa 1987, singing those very words – was this prophetic?! Perhaps just good advice in general!).
Long story short, I’m doing OK. I’ve missed blogging, I think it might help, and I will try to get back to it in some capacity at least J. I’ve never been short of things to say, but my journey with Claire has certainly shaken my self-confidence, and highlighting personal weaknesses certainly isn’t something that I would previously have chosen to do so publicly.
After sitting on this post for more than a fortnight, I feel that sharing this experience is more an indication of my personal strength than my weakness anyway :). That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!