Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What a year.

I know that by convention, most people mark the new year in January. However, I guess from years of schooling, I always tend to think of the new year starting in September. August, and the long, hot, dog days of summer always feel like the wrap up to me. Fall brings cooler weather, shorter days, and the frantic buildup to the holidays.

So it’s not surprising to me that I’ve been reflecting back over the past year while also planning for the exciting new start as Michael enters kindergarten.

I remember last year at this time. Michael was preparing to switch from going to daycare two days a week to three days. The goal was to give my mom a little more time to herself, and to help get Michael used to a more academic environment before kindergarten. Michael was recovering from another ear infection, and I was waiting desperately for the magical end of that first year of daycare endless sickness. I had dreams that maybe I’d actually be able to save up some sick and vacation time for once. Maybe I’d actually find a little time for myself as things settled down.

Oh, if only I knew what was to come? Labor Day weekend my mom started feeling sick. We thought she just had Michael’s cold. Within a week, however, we discovered she had shingles. Not good.

In October, I ended up getting sicker than I’ve ever been before. Ear infection, pink eye, strep throat, a cough so bad that my ribs hurt for six weeks. Also, during that same time, I had some unbloggable personal issues going on that were worse than the killer germs I had caught. It really took all the way through December to finally start to recover. At that point, my sick time and vacation time were almost wiped out. I was tired.

In January, things started to look up. I was learning that sometimes when things get broken, the fix is actually better than the original. I was gaining energy and working on a new workout plan. Even Michael was doing well and fighting off those lousy daycare germs. I took a moment to exhale.

Then BOOM, February ushered in a whole new level of hell with my mom’s breast cancer diagnosis. That news flipped a switch in my life and we have been pretty much running in survival mode since then. Michael had to switch to full time daycare. I had to pick up all the basics that my mom could no longer do for herself. What little time I had disappeared in a wink.

And the worrying, the endless worrying. I could tell yourself things are going to be OK a thousand times a day, and still find myself crying in the shower in the evening. I’d go for runs to relax and clear my head only to find myself walking and wiping tears out of my eyes. Many days I woke up completely exhausted wanting only to take a day off to sleep, but not being able to because I needed the few sick days I had earned.

It was hard.

A few weeks ago, my mom started to feel well enough to do her dishes, take out her trash, and pick up her mail. Next, she felt good enough to go out and do her grocery shopping. Finally, she had enough energy back and she begged me to let her keep Michael over night.

Andy and I went on a date! Dinner and a movie. I’d forgotten what it was like, and it was such a treat.

Then, the next weekend my mom asked for Michael again. Sure. After she picked him up, Andy and I stared at each other not knowing what to do with ourselves. We didn’t even know how to spend time alone together. Don’t worry, we figured it out soon enough.

So, that’s where we are. It was a rough year, but I think we made it through OK.

That leaves me wondering about this new year coming up. How will kindergarten go? How will it effect our lives? Will it be easier? Harder? Crazier?

What about my mom? She wraps up radiation in a few weeks. All that’s left is for her hair to grow back in and for the monitoring to start. Did everything work? Is she cured? Can we relax a little? Hmm….there is always this.

I’m hoping that things can settle down into some new kind of normal, for a little while at least. Maybe I can catch up on all those doctor’s appointments, blog posts, house cleaning, books and other things that I’ve had to put aside for so long. Maybe I can focus a little on me again. It's hard to let myself even think it, because I really don't want those hopes dashed again.


Lindsay said...

What a year indeed. Here's to a much better 2011/2012.

LauraC said...

Hey Joanna, so good to see you back here. I've had those years (not cancer with my mom but you know, sick twins and traveling husband) and they are hard. They do make you appreciate the good times but they are really really hard.

If you want to do something for yourself, a spot opened up on my WD team for next week :) Kidding!!

Karen said...

I've so missed your blogging. I am hoping that the next year brings many good things!

Cacey said...

I'm sorry you've had such a rough year! I hope that things continue to look up for you from here!

JenFen said...

I always look at the start of school as a new beginning more than the new year too so I totally know what you mean. And what a transition for all our May "babies" starting kindergarten this year. So glad to hear your mom is feeling better and better.I am also glad you and Andy got to go on a date and am glad you figured out what to do when you had that alone time. I won't ask. I have a pretty vivid imagination. LOL! But yes, what a year indeed.

Julie said...

I am late to comment, but I just want to say that it has been quite a year for you and I am sending a virtual hug and cheers to a better year ahead.