Childhood Cancer, Life After Cancer, The "New" Normal

Leaning In

Yesterday was the last day of school. Jordan was up early—very early—in anticipation of this. I stepped out of the shower after my early morning workout and was surprised to find him waiting for me outside of the bathroom door. He was concerned about whether or not I had packed his lunch. I could read between the lines of his unusual inquiry, and see that he had some anxiety about this big last day.

Chloe and a classmate on a recent field trip.

I could relate—as I had been having anxiety about this too. We’re wrapping up a BIG year. The beginning of school last August was the beginning of our family stepping into a new chapter. The school year brought new levels of hope and enthusiasm toward what the future held for our family. Chloe was healthy and overjoyed to be reuniting with her peers in third grade after missing half of second grade. Jordan was starting kindergarten, and was elated to finally attend the same school as his sister.

I won’t miss the piles of paperwork, the perpetual morning rush, or the constant plugging of details into our family calendar. I will definitely miss the given routine, the kids’ teachers, and the predictability of my alone time. But there might be some growth that comes from leaning into the freedom of summer. I will work 3 weekdays, the kids will go to camp- and the other 2 weekdays are ours to enjoy as we please.

It is only with the closing of this school chapter that I recognize that I had fully leaned in to be held by this routine, by the ritual passing of weekdays and weekends that gave me a predictable rhythm to settle into. My schedule was set, the expectations were clear, and the kids were happy. School was a safe and welcomed blanket of comfort for our family.

What Jordan learned in kindergarten.

The inevitable end of this school year feels like a sort of abyss. I get the sense that I am not going to get the kind of closure that I want from it… but what kind of closure am I wanting, anyway? Do I want endless school, just so I don’t have to feel this unsettled feeling of this ending? That’s not what I want, either. I’d rather sift through my anxiety (and maybe learn something!) and welcome this much needed break from school. I think the closure I need is to express gratitude to my children’s teachers, and then fully embrace some time away from all of the obligations that come with school.

Right now this transition feels a little messy, watery, and undefined. I don’t remember feeling quite like this at the conclusion of school years past. I do know that summer will pass quickly, so I intend to promptly reconnect with what the freedom of summer feels like.

Jordan and his two best buddies.

Very recently I chose some daycamps for my kids to attend during the three days per week that I will be dedicating myself to my work. I usually plan far in advance for such things, but this year I had some particular challenges preventing me from planning ahead with confidence. But I finally settled on some activities that will work nicely for us. So maybe there will be enough of a routine ahead of us for these warm months, after all

Summer is so fleeting. It’s a mere 11 weeks off of school. I want to do any dwelling on what was here on this page, and then I want to launch into BEING in summerness. Before we know it, we will be back to the hustle and bustle, the after school activities, and the scheduling. I want to lean into summer! Not resist it. Thank goodness I’m recognizing this now. I’m thanking myself for having written. Hello, closure! (Ha! I wasn’t expecting that!)

The school year did, after all, serve an important purpose. We re-integrated back into the fabric of our lives here in Durango. My kids thrived and enjoyed every day of school. Maybe I won’t miss school as much as I anticipate. Despite the fact that I loved both of my children’s teachers and classes. This last day of school is my children’s ending, not necessarily mine.

The front page from Chloe’s 3rd grade portfolio. Not the best photo, but my, how she’s grown!

Maybe summer will be great! I planned my work schedule so that I could have some time off with my kids. This is because of what I learned from Chloe’s illness: family comes first. We never know how much time we have with our loved ones, so I will spend my time with them while they are here (Chloe remains completely healthy, it’s just that I no longer take her presence for granted).

Here’s to summer, to long days, lazy rivers, and of course, to HEALTH and aliveness. May your summer be full of adventure and fun yet sprinkled with plenty of downtime!

Dr. Stephanie is a chiropractor, writer, mom, and wife who lives and plays in Durango, Colorado. Her passion is empowering people to discover their truth and express optimum health.

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