A decade ago, we had a fourteen year old, a two year old and a newborn. Rick was still at the State School as direct care staff and I was a stay at home mom. I homeschooled Bobby, who still couldn't read. This would change drastically over the next year, something I never could have predicted. I gardened extensively, spending much of my spare time out in the garden.
The next year, 2004, things continued on the same trajectory. In the fall that year, I graded composition papers for a Cisco teacher, and it was the beginning of my working at the college.
2005 saw big changes. Rick moved over to the Sheriff's Office, working at the jail, and I began to adjunct at the college in developmental reading and writing. We had a challenge adjusting to being a family with two working parents with three children still home all day.
2006 brought even bigger changes. Rick started the peace officer course and I started my graduate degree in psychology. Bobby was devouring books and had read all of the Harry Potters, Lemony Snicketts and more. It was miraculous. We also knew by this time that the girls were probably on the spectrum. I was providing enrichment at home, working with them to help them understand questions and how to answer and comply with demands.
2007 saw Lily start kindergarten, Rosie undergo assessment for autism, Lily then follow suit with a private assessment. Despite big changes, we were still a happy bunch. Rick was a deputy, I was still adjuncting and working on my master's.
2009 saw me enter ACU to work on a BSN. That year I struggled with part time classes, teaching three classes, managing three children, and learning how to let go of the garden.
If you'd told me I'd be one week into the fall semester in 2010 and be offered a full time instructor position, I'd have scoffed in disbelief. I jumped at the chance, dropped out of nursing school and settled into sharing an office with my father. The girls were in the same school building in 2010, which made school much easier on Rosie.
2013 has been a full year and it would be dishonest if I didn't admit it was also a personally difficult year. My health issues continued to cause me fatigue, my depression was sucking the joy out of everything. The girls were more often miserable in school than not, and we made the decision in March 2013 to homeschool them once the school year ended in May. We started the very next day after it let out and they are beyond happy.
Seeing them thrive with their brother at their side over the summer and fall of this year has removed a huge weight from my shoulders. I know we made the right decision for them. We've had struggles with trying to figure out how to best help all of them, but that's ordinary parenting issues--we all struggle with how to best assist our children.
I decided I had to reach out online and share how I was struggling, and I have been honored by the support system my online and real world friends have been for me. It's made things so much easier to face, knowing I have people who love me and support me.
I was promoted to a tenure track position at the college, and it's been a highlight for me. I adore my job. There isn't anything else in the world that's more right for me than this. I've spent this year learning to let go of some of the commitments for volunteering that were burning me out. I let go of hospice in August. I loved doing it, but we've had our share of losses in the last few years and depression and hospice work together don't work for my mental health.
Rick is happy doing exactly what he wants: a little bit of everything at the SO. Between the two of us, we know quite a lot of people in our community and it makes us feel as if we are home and belong. It is comforting, because that means our three also have an extended community and belong.
We've lost several animals over the last few years, and said goodbye in January to Aphrodite, our garden cat. We ended up getting our first dog in a decade--a little yorkie puppy who has been a delight, and later a white dog, Val, who won our hearts with her picture at the city shelter's website. A month ago we added a sweet white and ginger kitty, and now the animals clearly outnumber us, but we also have plenty of cuddles.
I'm ending this year much better off mentally than I began it, thanks to my support system. Yes, there are hassles and hurdles and issues to be dealt with. But I feel buoyed, lifted up, and confident that with my friends and my family, I can get through it. I can smile on the good days, and lean on my support system on the bad ones. And maybe even screw with people in between.
And that's good enough.
My kids are happy and doing well.
My husband continues to amaze me.
My friends kick me in the ass when I need it.
And I'm embracing the philosophy of the bear hunt (some alteration):
Goin' on a bear hunt (repeat)
I'm not afraid (repeat)
Got a real good friend
(children hug each other during this part...repeat)
By my side (repeat)
Oh, Oh (repeat)
What do I see? (repeat)
Oh look! It's some deep shit! (repeat)
Can't go over it (repeat)
Can't go under it (repeat)
Can't go around it (repeat)
Got to go through it