Dear God, Thank You for My Back-to-School Blues

25 Aug

School starts the day after Labor Day, which means we have a little over a week.

With the kids both in school this year, things are going to be different. I found myself in bed tonight tossing and turning, thinking of drop off schedules, packing lunches, when to wake them, what happens if they have an accident, will they like it, how will that first walk be like? And most of all, where did the summer go?

So it’s almost 1:00 a.m. and you all get a blog post.

This is the first summer where I feel a little more out of touch with the kids. There’s been less pool and park, and more work and errands. The evenings go by too fast, the weekends go by even faster. All of a sudden, Jackson’s going into first grade and Abby’s going into 3-day preschool.

Knowing my mind won’t slow down…so let me tell you a couple stories that I’m reminding myself tonight.

When Jackson went through chemo, surgery and stem cell transplant, we were only a little more than halfway through his full plan. We had to go to Sentara Norfolk General next for his radiation. If you know radiation at all, you’ll know they make the first appointment to “map” out where they will radiate. In Jackson’s case, his initial tumor bed was the majority of his abdomen.

Jackson's radiation marks

Jackson’s radiation marks

They marked him with black Xs and dashes, and covered them with clear, plastic stickers. When you have over two weeks of radiation, the stickers come off. And when you have a toddler, the stickers get pulled off. The radiation specialists wanted to put little blue tattooed dots on Jackson for marking where to radiate. I can’t tell you how many times they brought this up. I refused. I didn’t want him to be the only kid in his preschool class with tattoos.

Since then, that little boy has gone through two years of preschool, a year of pre-k and kindergarten and starts first grade in a little over a week. He’s still tattoo-less, so I guess I’m doing something right. But in all seriousness, preschool was my goal. I never even thought past preschool…it was like the great open space I couldn’t predict. All this time we’ve been given with Jackson is just the most amazing gift.

In the NICU, babies are born, they grow and they go home. Sometimes it only takes a few days; sometimes it takes a full year. There were many times over those four months where I sat by Abby’s incubator, just staring at her little body and watching her breathe. I would worry about her future and watch her monitor for her heart rate and oxygen. I didn’t plan for preschool, I just wanted her to live. I wanted her to come home without cords so I could let her sleep warm on my chest instead of warm at a hospital. She made it home, she made it through learning to sit, crawl, feed herself, walk and talk. She grew hair! And she’s the one who asks me to cuddle on my chest and read a book. This time I’ve been given with Abby, healthy and thriving, is a gift.

One of the best feelings in the world.

One of the best feelings in the world.

I am one of the lucky ones, and I know that. You may think that sounds crazy, given we’ve been through cancer and a 24-weeker. But I know we’re lucky because they’re both still here. There are mothers that don’t get preschool or time nuzzling their baby. I have met them…some that I remember their faces and their children’s names, and some where time has erased those memories. But these are real people, who had hopes and dreams for their kids, who fought just as hard as we did. They loved them, prayed for them and nurtured them, but they didn’t get more time.

My heart always hurts for angel parents who would gladly worry about silly things like drop off times. I think about them and their loss, and it feels pretty selfish to be sad that my kids are another year older. That’s exactly what I prayed for: more time.

Moral of the story: let’s all enjoy the last week of summer. When the back-to-school blues set in while driving away from school, let’s all take a deep, collective breath and just be thankful for another year.

I’m going back to bed.

4 thoughts on “Dear God, Thank You for My Back-to-School Blues

  1. I am an aunt of Angel Twin Boys. Born into heaven January 22, 2009. Braylon & Myles will forever be in our hearts. Their mom, Chaya, and their dad, Ed, are strong like you Jess. We have been blessed by the twins brother Tyler who started pre-k this year. Can’t help but wonder what the twins would think of that! Keep writing great blogs Jess.

  2. Jessica, I look forward to reading your posts. You perspective is so helpful to others as we travel similar roads. Thank you for taking the time to share!

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