Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Return

I have been thinking and reflecting on the day I return to work for many months. To me it symbolizes so much for me. I have said to my friends, returning to work means "everything is back to normal". Unfortunately for me, normal means something very different because being a cancer survivor has greatly changed me. I am embarking on a new position, a challenging, rewarding, difficult, exciting role. Tuesday morning when I turn out of the driveway, I will have a smile on my face because getting back to work really does mean that I am strong, healthy and ready for full-time work. There were many times over the past nineteen months where I truly questioned whether it would ever happen. My new normal will reflect a different Mrs Low. I am much more aware of the importance of taking care of myself. It is so easy for me to fall into the routine of putting myself last, working long hours, coming home after my family has had dinner. I made a promise to myself that I would be kinder to me. Continue to make time for yoga and my family. Worry less about the small stuff. Eat healthy, not skip lunch. Stay off work if I am sick instead of pushing through and making myself go in when I really should be in bed. Remember that colleagues, children and parents often have hidden challenges in their personal lives that we should not make assumptions or speculations about. Life is hard. And my role is to help make it a bit easier for students, teachers, parents and professionals. But I will not solve all problems. I won't be able to fix everything. I will try my best.

Returning to work now in September rather than earlier in April was one of the best decisions I have made. Having this extra time means I am really ready. Without a doubt, completely ready. After this past week, I realized that I would not have been able to have the stamina in the Spring to be able to be on the go, make quick decisions, read, communicate, organize, multi-task - wouldn't have happened. To those who are currently in treatment or in recovery who are reading this, please take the time your body needs. Do not rush back to your "new normal life", it will always be there. I really did think that I was going to be ready to return to work six months after I completed treatment, I was nowhere close. That was a surprise, I know everyone is different but emotionally I wasn't ready and physically I would have been able to manage it for a short time but not for the long haul. With these extra months, I was able to continue to grow stronger not just physically but mentally. That is where I seemed to struggle the most. I have read and been told that it is very normal to experience anxiety and survivor worries, I didn't expect it to be on the level that it was. I have made great gains overcoming the worry of the cancer returning, I have learned what my triggers are and continue to get better at pushing the worry aside and focusing on how great I feel.

The last weekend before Labour Day, our family was able to get away to Darien Lake for a mini-vacation. When I was in the middle of treatment, I asked the kids, "what's your bucket list item that you would like to do when Mom is all better?" Jordan wanted to go to a Luke Bryan concert, Check! Cam wanted to go to Darien Lake. So off to Darien Lake we went. Jason and I quickly realized that our 40 something year old bodies cannot tolerate rollercoasters like we used to. We had an amazing time and some hilarious laughs with the kids. Not many people can say that they have lied on a hotel bed with their two teenagers, the four of us laughing so hard that we are wiping away tears. We have amazing kids. Truly amazing.  I also had a wonderful night with my forever friends, the 4 women who know me when I made terrible decisions, some of our best nights, marriages and children. I love them. Thank you for taking the time so that we could all be together. It means more to me than you know. I also hosted a party to celebrate my dear friend Penny, who will soon be marrying the love of her life. Our Lackner friends all came together to buy some amazing pieces of jewellery from Silpada with the hostess rewards all going to Penny. More importantly, we realized that although some of us are no longer colleagues, we are definitely friends. Lackner Woods is truly a very special place to work and learn. It is not easy to describe what it is like to have been apart of that community. I can only say that I think moving to an Itinerant position will save me from comparing life at Lackner to another school environment, because truly there is no comparison.

and so.... here we go. School starts. Both kids are working. Cam will play volleyball in highschool (hopefully), Jordan is training for track and field, math and science homework for hours will begin. And the kids will have the pressures of success on their shoulders again. Dad will have to adjust to Mom not having quite the same amount of time to make this household run smoothly like clockwork. Mom will also have the pressure of success on her shoulders. I know the learning curve is steep, but I am up for the CLIMB.

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