Saturday, August 20, 2016

Back to School

Back to school routines started tonight. After a couple weeks with a grandma filling the house with joy and loud, crazy bedtimes, there was instead a peace filled stillness that crept through our house around 7:30 PM as the wind-down began. Bubble baths, soaped up kids who used the entire bottle of body wash, squeaky clean bodies curled up beside us, my chin resting on the damp locks of a redhead who's about to turn five. Storytime, prayer time, then rest.

Well, before you think we're rockstar parents at this back to school routine, that's about the 3rd time all summer that this event occurred, and my guess is we'll keep it up for about 4.2 weeks then return to getting to bed too late and night time tantrums. On that note, there was one of those this evening as well.

Somewhere wedged between bath time and reading time I realized that this is our first ever actual back to school bedtime routine. Three years ago we had a not-quite four year old who I was teaching bits and pieces of letters and numbers to, a one year old just two weeks shy of turning 2, and was about fifteen days away from a positive pregnancy test. Two years ago we had decided to homeschool preschool due to our youngest's NICU stay and germs, and were kissing and crying our kids away as we drove the two hours back to the hospital where we'd hold and rock our sweet four month old to sleep the eve of her first heart surgery {that she wasn't expected to survive}. And last year we were once again living in tight quarters at the Ronald McDonald House of Kansas City, watching the days on the calendar play a game called wait out the virus and get to the next heart surgery before her shunt closed off. While other parents were dropping their kids off on their first day of Kindergarten, we were dropping ours off at the O.R.

So this is the first year, I guess, that we get to tackle this back to school routine thing. The first year that I get to purchase school supplies, bring them home, and disperse of them in the correct cubbies, nooks, and crannies of the homeschool room instead of shoving all the books plus two colored pencils and one broken pencil sharpener into the Thirty-One tote(s), haul it to the van, and try to figure out what subject isn't worth the weight in gold, or in carrying strength, once we arrive at our temporary second home. This is the first year that I get to have all three kiddos in the same house as we read aloud and sing songs, learn to write our full name and full sentences and full wean off the vent. Learn more about counting our ABC's and numbering our alphabet to twenty-six. We wrote out a schedule and are starting new routines.

Routine is a strong word in our household, but also a mysterious word. Routine means meds at 8am//9am//9:30am//2pm//3pm//4pm//8pm//9pm//12am. Routine means daily trach cares and physical therapy and cuddles. Routine means we all ate a breakfast//lunch//dinner without a minor {or major} medical issue. Routine means we're home and thriving.

But routine around here means it can be broken at anytime. Take the kids to the park? You bet. What? Chloe needs an emergency trach change? Sideline that park time, but I'll make it up to you with a movie tonight and popcorn. Help you clean your room like I promised? Well, we need to wait a bit until Daddy is home so that Mommy can keep helping Chloe in the front room. Date day Friday with the hubs all scheduled while the nurse watches Chloe and the kids watch the sitter. Scratch that, sitter sick, no back ups on short notice and nurse doesn't work the weekend so we'll reschedule for one, maybe two more weeks out due to appointments and therapies the following week. It's OK, that date day only took three weeks to plan out. Family vacation? HA! Oy. Not even gonna go there...

It's so weird, this juxtaposition of actually being home and having routines, yet at the same time needing to be so incredibly flexible. But in all honesty, our kids rock flexible. Then again, this life is all they've ever known since the ages of 3 and 1. They don't really understand that this many therapies and appointments and phone calls to the doctor and pieces of medical equipment aren't usually found in the common household. While most parents worry that they locked the cleaning supply cupboard, we try to hide the sharps container out of sight and reach.

I was standing over the kitchen counter last week was hovering over the steaming coffee pot last week (the one that I forgot to fill the water in before turning on), half awake after a long night that could rival a newborn on day four at home when that surreal thought just washed over me for the umpteenth time.

I didn't sign up for this.
I didn't see this coming.
I didn't know this was in the realm of possibilities when I accepted my college diploma and thought about where I want to be in ten years life plan. This sort of stuff happened to other people. Not me.  Meet handsome man: CHECK. Serve the Lord and hope our household honors Him: CHECK. Have adventures with handsome man: CHECK. Have this type of adventure where we allow God to walk deeper into our lives, ironically the life He is allowing us to breathe in each day in the first place, and let Him interrupt it for His glory and kingdom and let Him call the shots: Whoa. Check, I guess? Yes. Check. YES. CHECK.

We're there now. We get it now, three years into this path, this unexpected twist in the gravel road of our almost-perfect little American life, the reminder of whose life this really is, and how much more there is to this life if we let God direct it. We've learned to trust God that whatever this is He's walking us into, that He will see us through it. Daily. Each moment. The scary chest compression//purple baby moments. The celebration of the end of summer reading moments. The weaning off the vent moments. The joy in seeing my child read moments.  The learning to have a flexible routine. And when we're weary, we go back to Him. Again and again to fill our cups. Because we get drained often on this adventure. But He continues to fill us up. And it's worth it.

Taste and see that He is good, and that He works all things for the good of those who love Him.

And ask yourself if you are willing to let God interrupt your routine//life for His glory.

{And if you're already on one of His adventures, then we pray for endurance and strength balanced with the utmost of joy.}


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