Ending the School Year 2016

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I know I say this every year – as does every other parent of a school-aged child, but really? Where did this school year go?

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It seems both like yesterday and also so far away that we sent the girls off to three separate schools for the first time. Juggling kids in high, middle and elementary school while having a child undergoing intensive chemotherapy treatments, trying to keep up with work and other commitments… Somewhere in there I lost a few months, but coming out of the other end of the school year – so much has changed.

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Most importantly, Hannah is finished with chemo, and you’d never know by looking at her now what she went through just six months ago. When I look back at her school photo from September, she was so thin and tired (and bald, of course). She’s gained back both weight and color, and has the cutest hair style (although plans to grow it back out). She maintained her grades throughout seventh grade – the child has never gotten anything below an A in her life. And she made a few new friends, but has also kept the strong friendships that have helped support her through everything she’s endured.

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Abbi not only survived her freshman year of high school, but she finished the year with her very first straight-A report card, ever. She’s always had at least a B or two in there, and at the beginning of the year we really worried about her ability to study effectively and keep her grades up. Over the months, she found her stride and her place – she absolutely loved marching band last fall and can’t wait for the upcoming season as a sophomore.

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With Hannah finishing treatment, we turned our focus to Becca during the second half of the school year and began some testing to figure out how to help her get along with others better, hopefully make (and keep) some friends, and help her learn ways to cope with her emotions. She is very bright, but doesn’t always slow down and work to her ability, but she also ended her fourth grade school year with straight A’s, so we know that she’s got the academic part down. We just need to help her with some strategies to put the rest in place so that she can have a happier fifth grade experience.

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We managed to keep up with all of the activities that the girls wanted to participate in, although logistics were often a challenge and we are so thankful that we are a two-vehicle family now. Abbi participated in both varsity marching band as well as varsity robotics – both of which are very time-consuming and challenging. Hannah took on not only soccer, but also Science Olympiad, Art Club, and church youth group. Both girls continued in Job’s Daughters, and Becca was initiated this year as well, once she turned ten. Becca also played soccer and participated in Lego League and Girls on the Run again.

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I’m not sure that we’ll take on quite so many activities next year – both Abbi and Hannah have already said that they want to back off a bit. But seeing what they can accomplish even when they are extremely busy makes me know that these girls can do anything they set their minds to. I just need to be able to keep up with them, which isn’t always easy. As Hannah finished treatment and grew stronger, I started losing myself, and really haven’t come completely back yet. Spending almost an entire year in ‘survival mode’ took a lot out of me, and I’ve just been finally learning how to live our new normal again over the past few months. There’s a level of fear and worry that I never really lived with before – knowing that her cancer came back once just makes it that much easier to imagine it coming back again. We hope and pray that it won’t, but there are no absolute guarantees, so the worry will never truly go away.

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But for now, we’ll just enjoy the first days of summer vacation and look forward to having a sophomore, eighth grader and fifth grader in the fall. The summer will zoom by quickly enough too – as they always do.