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Back-to-school time again!

No, that title is not a mistake. We really are starting back to school next week. In July. Ack. I haven't even finished writing about our trip to Idaho at the beginning of July! The last week or two have been a bit rough though, and while I love my children dearly and I know I will miss them when they go to school, they have been making it SO HARD for me to be sad about school starting. So. Much. Bickering! They had such a great time while we were visiting family in a cooler climate where they could spend all day outside every day that coming home where it's too hot to do anything outside and we don't have a great big farm to roam around on was a huge downer for them. They've been bored so they've been doing what all siblings do when they get board: bug each other.

While I was driving them around from place to place today in an attempt to cram as much end-of-summer-vacation fun into our week as we can, I kept catching myself thinking about the things Piper and I can do while the older kids are at school. Piper usually took a nap while Raya was at preschool so we didn't really go places or do much of anything. Today while the kids and I were at the neighborhood pool, I thought to myself, maybe Piper and I will come to the pool by ourselves next week while the kids are at school. Then I felt a little twinge of guilt at how excited that thought made me.

After we went swimming, I took them to one of the schools in the area that serves free lunch during summer break and then we went to the library. Piper was exhausted by then and fell asleep in her stroller, so I found a book that caught my fancy, sat down in a comfortable chair in a quiet corner of the library, and read while Piper took a nap and the other kids played and looked at books. I caught myself thinking, Piper and I can come to the library for story time while the kids were at school! Then I felt a little twinge of guilt and sadness that I never got to do that with Kaida and Raya. We always had therapy appointments during story time hours. Or else I was so tired of dragging them to medical appointments that I couldn't bring myself to drag them to story time at the library too.

Thinking about that got me thinking about how I used to take Cole and Ashtyn to fun, cute little sports and dance classes at the parks & rec department when they were little. They loved those classes and I loved watching them have fun! This was from one of Ashtyn's classes. Kaida was only about 5 weeks old when Ashtyn had her performance for this class:
2007. Life was SOOOOOOO different in 2007.
Thinking about how much fun Ashtyn & Cole had in those parks & rec classes, and the prospect of being able to sign Piper up for them made me happy. Then it gave me a little twinge of guilt and sadness that Kaida and Raya never got to do any of them. I was maxed out and just couldn't add one more commitment and one more place to go. I know it's an excuse, but it is what it is.

The theme of my day was a little internal roller coaster of feeling happy and excited, followed by feeling guilt and sadness, followed by reminding myself that I have nothing to feel guilty about (although it's perfectly reasonable for me to be sad about the things that made me sad), followed by more excitement about what it will mean to have ONE kid at home again while the others are in school full time (and almost full time). It means that for a few hours every day, I will get to focus on something other than Raya. I don't mean that the way it probably sounds. What I mean is that since the day she was born, my life has pretty much revolved around her health. Not just my life, but our whole family. Our schedule has been dictated to varying degrees by her medical needs, her sensory needs, her appointments, her therapies, and whether or not I felt like venturing out with her in whatever mood or mental state she happened to be in at any given time. I feel like we've done the best we could to maintain "normal" for everybody, but the fact remains that there are things we had to give up for the greater good of focusing on Raya's medical state and development. Am I resentful about any of that? No. Am I bitter? No. Am I sad that Raya and Kaida didn't get to do some of the things Ashtyn & Cole got to do as toddlers & preschoolers? Yes. Am I excited about the prospect of going back to doing some "normal" mom stuff after spending the last 5 years and 7 months going to therapy appointments? Heck yes! Raya and I have gotten a huge amount of bonding time, albeit in the form of doctor & therapy appointments and hospital stays. Ashtyn and Cole and I did a lot of things when they were little. Kaida and I got to have a lot of one-on-one time when we started using respite care for Raya. Piper and Kaida both have been dragged along to countless appointments but that was never fun, so yes, I am really looking forward to spending some one-on-one bonding time with Piper while the big kids are at school. Even if it means having to spend a lot of time talking myself out of the ever-present mommy guilt over circumstances where I did my best to handle what life was throwing at me.






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