When I grow up . . .

Today, I take some baby steps.

It was serendipitous for me, a business analyst turned elementary teacher turned stay-at-home-mom, that my friend Marcy and her colleague, Ilene, who are career coaches and counselors, are having a workshop, cleverly called Back-to-“Work”shop which is specifically tailored for moms who have been at home, but are contemplating re-entering the workforce. That is me. I knew I had to sign up. Frankly, the process of returning to work overwhelms me. The normally pragmatic me just doesn’t know how to approach it. What do I want to do when I “grow up”? How do I align my working decisions with my passions? How do I do this in a way that makes sense for my family? How do I market myself? I’m pretty sure that I have kept busy with something these last eleven years and I want to learn how to leverage these experiences, because parenthood has definitely been the hardest job I’ve ever had. While I’ve thought about it over for a while, the process officially starts today.

I’m anxious, excited, and nervous to start thinking about these things as I head down this new road. Today, I’m sharing a modified version of my first homework assignment. Participants were asked to share an experience where we felt we did well, felt fulfilled , and were proud of the outcome and results. Admittedly, this sort of self-reflection is hard for me, but I can truly understand the value of thinking about these experiences in a new way. While I can’t say I always enjoyed myself while in the moment, I decided to write about my role in our daughter’s recovery from a significant concussion.

Operation Fix Tall

In the Fall of 2011, our then ten-year old daughter, fondly nicknamed Tall, hit her head in a fall at school. In a slow to diagnosis couple of weeks, it was determined that it was not the “minor concussion” originally diagnosed by the ER staff at the hospital as she battled debilitating headaches and vision issues that made reading and school work impossible. While we tried to troubleshoot her issues through traditional and naturopathic routes, and give her brain the rest it needed, she missed two months of school. The period of her recovery has been the hardest parenting time for me both mentally and physically to date. I am happy to report that almost 18 months later she’s doing great for the with just some lingering changes to her vision and reading habits. At it’s most intense periods, the whole process required a lot of organization as we managed multiple doctor’s visits, the corresponding insurance paperwork,  eventually intense vision therapy, and later a home tutor for schoolwork. I had to be at times tenacious as I fought for appointments to get to the bottom of her issues and tried to find her relief. As the primary caregiver, I was also chief cheerleader and entertainer during this “near zero” visual stimulation time (no tv, no reading, etc.). It was admittedly a struggle to meet her emotional needs, but we came through it, getting creative with simple crafts, cooking, and audiobooks. Her vision issues became a personal and ongoing quest for me. At six months, her vision was getting better, but she was not reading at the levels and quantities she was before the accident, because physically the mechanics of reading were still very hard for her brain and eyes to coordinate. I became a “book talking” machine trying to present her with books that would peak her interest so that she would want to make the effort to read, despite the challenges. We re-thought ways for her to enjoy reading again by doing more read alouds and pushing her reading time to earlier in the day when her eyes were less tired. Finding those right books and the right ways and times for her to read, made a difference for her, and slowly her reading picked up again. I’m grateful that my own love and knowledge of children’s literature played a key part in her recovery.

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