navigating shifts

Monday was my first exam, and it turned out to be a pretty good day. I feel slightly weird about writing that since I still have to wait for an envelope confirming that feeling to arrive in the mail, but I was very prepared going in and I felt confident when I left. That was the kind of mental boost I needed, because the exams just get bigger and harder from here – and there are still SIX more. I dove right into preparations for the second one because I’ve just got two weeks to prepare and we have other events and out of town guests visiting in the middle of this study session.

I’m doing my best to maintain as much of my regular daily routine as possible, and to get some sleep as well. It’s been helpful to have scheduled these first three exams and prep times during the portion of the summer when E is out of town. She spent a week with grandparents and she’s wrapping up a week at Girl Scout camp today. She’s got another week with grandparents coming up shortly. So I come home, we make dinner and eat, we hang out, and then I get 2-3 hours in before it’s time to call it a night. There are certainly other ways I’d prefer to fill those hours, but I’m trying to feel like I’m still in the mix of things, not completely shut off in a quiet room somewhere. I’m looking forward to the return of my favorite voracious reader tonight – and shifting some of this reading and review up to her room, elbow to elbow while she reads beside me.

I was starting to feel like this year was really all about me – and not in a good or comfortable way. Our family has had to shift a lot around what’s been going on in my life – around work issues and surgeries and recovery and now testing. We’ve been limited in our travel abilities and limited in our hosting abilities as well, and I’ve felt quite guilty about that. But then I remember how sometimes that shifting isn’t such a bad thing. When I was confined mostly to my bed for weeks on end, the girls would move through the stair hall many times throughout the day. It became second nature for them to stop in, ask if I needed anything, bringing me fresh water or a stack of books to read to them. E loves the days I come home with new exercises from PT – and we practice curling our toes together on towels and picking up marbles with our feet. I sit on the edge of her bed and she massages my shoulders or fancy-braids my hair and we talk about all sorts of things. I’m quite sure she’ll be excited to see that these new tests have flashcards to practice – I plan to pack up and head outside with her and those cards and sprawl out on a blanket somewhere while she tests me. She’ll love it (and probably learn a ton in the process)!

It can be a good thing to rally around a family member in need or to watch your parent tackle a challenge in a calm and methodical way. As parents we do this all the time for our kids – helping them navigate sickness and disappointment and frustration, and celebrating their various milestones as they accomplish them and move forward. Before E left for camp on Sunday, she told me she was going to be thinking about me on Monday and wondering how my test was going. I can’t wait to see her tonight and tell her that it went so well, and how excited I was on Monday to tell her all about it. It’s not such a bad thing that I don’t actually know if I’ve passed yet as I get ready to go into another test in a few days. If I could teach my girls anything at all, I’d like them to know what it feels like to prepare yourself, to be prepared, and to bring that level of preparation to a challenge, walking away from it at the end knowing you nailed it – regardless of the actual results.

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