Learning to Love Being Good Enough

It wasn’t until yesterday that I really started to comprehend just how differently this school year – and my LIFE – has gone compared to what I had thought it would be. My ideas on parenting have been challenged more than ever before but those challenges have led to a much better understanding of my role as a parent – an imperfectly perfect parent.

Jack attended school two days this week, and I felt proud of those two days. Two days at school is more than he’s done in weeks!

Since I’ve been home with him so much, catching up on work in between talking to doctors, running labs, or checking Jack’s temperature and assessing his symptoms, I’ve even cooked dinner a few times.

Me! Cooking! It’s unheard of! I’m proud of that, too.

I’ve essentially been a stay-at-home mom, a role that I never in a million years thought I could swing. I still don’t know that I could ever do it full-time (if, in fact, I could afford to, which I absolutely can’t), but since circumstances have deemed it appropriate for the time being, that is what I’m doing. And I’m doing a pretty good job. Not only that, but contrary to what I’d previously thought, the part where I’m home without much adult interaction isn’t the part that’s driving me crazy (the part where I don’t know what’s happening from one day to the next definitely is).

“You’re doing an amazing job homeschooling Jack,” his teacher told me last night at our parent-teacher conference.

Oh, is that what I’m doing? I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Is that what they call juggling five million things these days?

I honestly haven’t done much at all to “school” him (unless letting him watch Dr. Who counts). I hand him the schoolwork he needs to do (after rejecting half of the assignments as impossible or not important enough to complete given our situation), get him into it by asking weird questions about the content, and we discuss corrections when necessary. He almost never has to make corrections when it comes to language arts. Math takes more work thanks to chemotherapy, but David is great at working with him on that. I’m no teacher! I don’t even know how I know what I do know, so I pretty much fail at explaining the concepts to Jack. Thank goodness I am not parenting him alone and he makes it to school some of the time!

It’s probably clear I don’t have the most optimistic view of how I’m managing the schooling portion of our life (however! I think I’m doing a great job of keeping him alive!), so I was pleasantly surprised to hear at the conference that Jack is doing really well and is on track to meet (or succeed in some cases) all academic standards. At least, based on the thirteen days he’s made it to school this year (he’s been there 36% of the time!). His teacher had no concerns and really just wanted to share her observations and see if there was anything she could do to make things easier on us.

I love her.

We heard that Jack is a strong writer, as well as a fantastic artist. We knew the artistry part but I hadn’t really thought about him as a writer before, although I realized he’s been doing a lot more writing lately. It was nice to see some work that he’d done at school, which includes some pretty awesome story-telling that isn’t all about Dr. Who. (Maybe someday he’ll be a blogger like his mama!)

wanteddoctor

It’s all Doctor all the time at home.

He is conscientious and well-behaved. He tries hard and when he’s at school, no one can tell anything is going on with him health-wise. He has plenty of friends in addition to the ONE he’s told us about. In fact, when he is late to class, if he can’t quickly figure out where he needs to be, his classmates are totally on top of getting him oriented.

YAY!

Seriously, that was SUCH a relief to hear. I’ve been worried about school but have had so little capacity to do more than what I’ve been doing. It’s nice to have reinforcement that the parenting I’m doing is good enough, especially when I can’t manage anything else!

And, heck, we all might be better off for it.

Just Write: He’s Okay…Mostly, I Think

“How’s Jack doing?”

I’ve been asked this question at least five times so far today. Each time I give the same answer in the same way, “Yeah…well, eh, mostly. He will be okay, I think. He’s just not feeling well after chemo yesterday.”

He was doing just fine last night. In fact, he was very energetic and LOUD, humming or squawking while playing with his Legos. It was overwhelming to me, as I’d just come home from my trip to Type A in Atlanta. I wanted quiet.

This morning, though, it was too quiet. Jack crawled on the floor from his bedroom to the living room. He laid down on the couch while eating breakfast and I covered him with a blanket while pushing play on iTunes so he could listen to The Postal Service at low volume. He ate his waffle slowly, and afterward he leaned on me to get to the bathroom to halfheartedly brush his teeth. Then I picked him up and carried him back out to the couch.

He talked in hushed tones and complained of stomach pain. I smoothed his hair away from his face as I took his temperature – 98.0 degrees. I asked if he wanted to try to go to school for a bit and see if he felt better. His big brown eyes squinted up at me and he said, “I just don’t have any energy, Mom.”

“Okay, honey. I’ll tell David to come home from work. You just rest,” I replied.

I looked at our finances while I waited for David to come home from work. I wondered if we could somehow make it work on one salary so that I could stay home full time with Jack. I worried this was a pattern that would not go away. I added and subtracted and, with a knot in my stomach, acknowledged that it was impossible – we have too much debt and a large mortgage payment.

I called the clinic to get confirmation of Jack’s ANC. The nurse told me it was sitting at 690, which is fairly decent but not great. She asked how he was doing and then said, “Call us if he isn’t feeling better by the end of the week.”

I called the school and answered the question again. Then I drove to work, where I told a few more people that Jack wasn’t feeling well. I got a call from my sister in the afternoon, and I spoke to one of the care providers at Jack’s after-school program – both asked and I explained in that halting way.

Jack’s okay…mostly. I think. We’ll see.

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This post was inspired by Heather’s Just Write – an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments.