Why I Sobbed Registering My Son For Kindergarten
Last updated: May 2023
I do a lot of self-reflection humbly standing at my kitchen sink. Lost in the mundane task of dishwashing, I find it easy to process through my emotions–sloshing, scrubbing, and thinking. In fact, the sink is where I have processed the bulk of what’s happened to me the last five years living with cystic fibrosis (CF). Emotionally inventive? Maybe. Or an unusual spot for pensiveness? I don’t know, but the kitchen sink is my spot to make sense of the life I am living---the pain, the joy, and the significant milestones, like kindergarten.
Looking to the future
That’s why it didn’t feel strange last week when I stood across the sink and flashed back to the fall 2019. In my memory, I lifted my two-year-old son with bright blonde hair and thought about what my life would look like in three years time when he was ready to go off to kindergarten. A deep grief filled me as tears saturated my eyes and welled over. I was so anxiously sure that the future seemed inevitably even more difficult than the present. “How would I bear it?” I thought.
The only reasonable reality I saw was a picture of me walking into class hand-in-hand with a freckled blonde haired boy attached to oxygen tubes as tiny eyes curiously gazed upon me. The other alternative was a brand new kindergarten mom in the thick of lung transplant evaluation or even post-transplant at that point. In three years, I was sure I would feel even more sick, in pain, and thinner than I already was. As I saw it, there just wasn’t any other option. “How would he bear it? I thought.
Relishing my reality
Thankfully, my vision from three years ago is not at all my current reality. Against all odds of progression, I am healthy with the help of new treatments like Trikafta. Yet, as I washed the dishes preparing to leave to go register my 5-year-old son, still blue eyed and freckled, I felt an uncontrollable swell of emotion. Tears streamed down my face as bubbles raised up my forearms, and I continued to scrub and sob thinking about just how far I have come.
Dwelling on relief
I thought about how lucky I have been to be home with him the last five years, taking care of him with everything I had. I thought about how I would truly miss him while he was at school learning and growing. It was bittersweet knowing my experience getting to this day was not one without pain and struggle, and how hard I had hoped to one day be here, and yet there was still a part of me that was sad to welcome it. Relief. Disbelief. Sadness. Pride. Joy. A slue of emotion.
Undoubtedly, worrying about the progressive details of CF life is taxing. Worrying that you’re going to miss out on important memories with your loved ones is sometimes excruciating. Milestones are more than just milestones with CF. Making more of an imprint, they feel both grander and deeper than they would be in normal life. Often, they feel like victories and offer moments of necessary and refreshing emotional healing.
Moreover, milestones act as a checkpoint. Reach an important milestone and there’s relief. For just a moment, you’re given the space to sit back, relax, and relish in the fact that you made it this far. Game saved!
Just how big milestones can feel with CF is individualized, but as a parent with CF registering my son for kindergarten felt enormous and life changing. And, I was feeling the emotions of all the enormity and gratitude towards my situation standing at my kitchen sink that day. I believe at the kitchen sink, I was healing in a way. Tears and soap washing away the blemishes of the past.
How do you feel about experiencing milestones with CF? How do you process the emotions that come with that?
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