I haven’t blogged in a long time. I used to blog a fair amount, and in truth, it’s often the way I process what is going on in my teaching and thinking. At times, it has been a place where I’ve shared what is going on in my life. Not often. But sometimes. To be honest, I struggle using it this way. Friends like George Couros and Dean Shareski often talk about their lives on their blog. But for me, I’ve seen this as a professional place. And yet, so often the two things collide or intermingle.
What I’ve learned in the past couple months is life can change in a second. It’s the phone call. The diagnosis. The knock on the door.
My story revolves around my parents.
My dad is diabetic and, for whatever reason, it’s been very difficult to manage. At the end of August, he had his second leg amputation. My dad is a strong person. He’s a farm kid. The “let’s get on with it” type. Rehabilitation was going well, and then, all of a sudden, he had pneumonia, and was hospitalized for several weeks. The consequence of this is he no longer had the strength to continue his rehabilitation.
Then the phone call came. Dad was being moved to long term care. I woke up that morning with one life, and then, with that call, I had a different one. My mom, suddenly, became the sole caretaker of the house they’ve lived in for 45 years. A house too big for her to take care of. A house we would now need to sell.
Consequently, during the last month and a half, I have downsized 45 years worth of my parent’s possessions, so we can sell the house. I have reflected, deeply, over how much time we spend amassing possessions that, in the end, are put in a box and sent to charity. At the same time, I’ve tried to support my mom as she deals with the loss of her husband and her first home.
It’s been exhausting. It’s been difficult. It’s been overwhelming. And most of all, it hurts. I’ve had to learn how to help my mom best. How to figure out what’s most important. How to deal with our new reality. And how to help encourage and keep my dad’s spirits up. It’s difficult to see your parents age, and nobody really tells you that.
As the dust has settled, we’ve decided to sell our house and move to Regina to buy a house with a suite for my mom. It’s important to us to give my parents the best quality of life possible. But quite honestly, I think the benefits will go both ways. My girls are excited to be able to spend more time with Grandma. She can sew and knit, and they’re both keen to learn. And they also want to be able to visit Grandpa more.
I’ve also recently accepted a position as Assistant Director of Curriculum Development with an online school. A position I’m excited about, but is not without difficulty. We’re at the beginning of course rewrites in response to a new curriculum. We’re creating courses that are inquiry, project & problem based, and allow for a great deal of student choice. My goal is for as much authentic learning to occur as possible.
As I reflect, one of the most important qualities I’ve had to rely on is resilience. In all of the complex and minute details of this, I haven’t been faced with a true or false question, and I didn’t get fill in any blanks. I wasn’t given a multiple choice as to whether or not we wanted our lives to change. My life changed. And I needed to respond. You only become resilient by fighting for it.
We need to help kids develop resilience. They need to wrestle with problems. They need to to fail. They need to persevere. They need to be faced with many questions or problems that have no one right answer. Or maybe are to big to answer. Some of these problems, like social justice issues, should be so big and passionate they hurt. And they make you cry. Because you need to be able to hurt and get up again.