I often wonder how many big changes one person can sustain in a short amount of time.
Yesterday, I officially left my career of almost 17 years in the rehab field. It was another part of this process - a choice that I made this time- but not one made easily or without fear. There was a time that I felt I might be able to juggle everything - Frank's rehab schedule, getting kids around, soccer, a special needs kid, the stress - but it is not possible to do. And the kids, my family, will not be the part that gives. My priorities have realigned in a way that surprises me, and makes me re-evaluated where my priorities have been for so long.
I don't know when it happened, but somewhere along the line of my career, my family took a backseat. They were second, or maybe even third. I loved my job - it was who I was - but didn't I love my family more? How does that happen where ambition and success become more important than a soccer game, playing checkers, or planting a garden? When does a trip to the lake to fish have less importance than checking email? I don't know when. But I need to make sure it does not happen again.
As the focus becomes more on the family, it is apparent that the kids are struggling with this different Dad. I try to make as many normal interactions happen throughout the day as we can to give them some stability. But it is hard when Dad reacts differently, or he can't find the word he needs, or his speech is a little different. Trying to reassure them that it is better is hard when they can see that it is not right yet.
I remember when I was struggling with this process and how it related to the grieving process. I couldn't figure out what to do with myself - do I grieve for a loss? Is he lost? What do I cry about when I don't know what the outcome will be? It was really hard for me to sort out, and the kids are going through the same process. A child that never gets angry is now mad. A child that didn't worry now says life is terrible. I child that chatted and was smily is now sad, and quiet. Life each day goes flying by, and I realize I have not checked in with them, and the quiet sniffling I hear is more tears of loss.
Those moments are so painful.
This accident has ripped our life apart, and just when I think we may be finding a smoother road I realize that the edges of life are still very sharp and pointy. Trying to keep the calm, in the midst of stress is hard, but each day is a new opportunity for success.
A new day to make a different choice, to face a situation with calm instead of anger, with hope instead of sadness.