Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Plan VS. God's Plan

We had Sienna (now age 6.5), moved to far west side of the Chicago and bought our first house. Lived there for a couple of years. I started freelancing and that grew into a consultancy, which meant the same thing, I was just able to charge more and feel more important about myself. I had offices all over the place, from the 83rd floor in the Sears Tower to a cubicle in Oak Brook. I enjoyed traveling for business and went to DC, San Diego, Las Vegas, and New Jersey frequently. I was very ambitious and felt more in control of my career than in motherhood. Sienna was in day care and Fred started working at Elmhurst HS. We then moved to Oak Park and Sienna has having a lot of troubles in school(s). So, we had to have her assessed and she received special services to help her with her behavior and sensory issues.

While Fred and I celebrated our 5th anniversary in Aruba, we got pregnant with Sarah. I was scheduled to develop a large trade show exhibit during my pregnancy and when she was 6 weeks, I brought her along with me to Toronto. I was absorbed with being successful and thought that God had a plan for me to grow my business and help other women, especially my own daughters as they grew older, flourish in corporate America. I had a corporate board of directors and we met monthly to help meet my business objectives.

Little did I know that God had another plan for my life. Last January, my mother called me from ER AGAIN. You may remember that she had a lot of issues. One of the most annoying was that she was a hypochondriac. She had checked herself into ER on a monthly basis and this time seemed to me like just the same as the other times. However, an ER nurse called me one Sunday morning while we were at church. We started attending Willow Chicago, one of Willow Creek's satellite churches that met in the loop in an old theater. The nurse told me that due to my mom's diabetes and other ailments that she is having difficulty healing from a bad case of pneumonia and it is possible that they may have to put her on a ventilator. After talking with Fred, we decided that I would take a trip, once and for all, to see just how severe this particular drama trauma really was. Five hours later, while driving down to Cincinnati, she had been placed on a ventilator and was in an induced coma. She finally passed away about 6 weeks later after I convinced my stepdad that she wasn't going to get any better.

During these 6 weeks, I spent a lot of time in the hospital with them. I didn't realize it, but my value system was really being challenged and turned upside down. I reevaluated the quality of life, motherhood and self care. I no longer thought about the new patterns on this season's Coach bags. One evening, after we met in Cincinnati to turn off the ventilator, I had about 20 voice mail messages. Some of the messages were from clients who knew where I was and what I was doing on that day yet they still thought their needs somehow took priority over mine on this dark day. I told Fred that I needed a break and didn't want to return to work for a while. Being the boss of your own agency does not allow for any sick days and there are certainly no days available for bereavement.

There were also no days available for childcare issues. And it seemed that I got weekly phone calls from Savana's preschool about her behavior. As one discussion was said, "She is a danger to herself and other students around her. We need you to pick her up." Another presentation to a team of directors at a Fortune 500 that I had spent months pursuing - cancelled. Vaporized just like that! I just couldn't keep up with the pace of my career. I slowly watched it fade away in the distance behind me. As I pursued my exit strategy, Fred and I decided that I would stay at home with the girls. We were paying over $1000 a month in childcare and we would still need to downsize and move to be able to live on his teacher salary alone. So, we sold our gorgeous home in Oak Park and moved to rural Ohio into a house in Laketown.

During this transition, before we made the big move, I thought I would tap into the rich medical metropolitan resources to see why Sienna was having so much difficulty. Through this time, we received a diagnosis of ADHD and Sensory Integration. After we moved to Ohio, we then got a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum which is probable Asperger's. Our youngest daughter, Sarah is only two now and is also experiencing very similar sensory challenges.

Our lives have changed so much in the past year. One of the million things I have learned through this chapter of our lives is that you cannot predict or control your life, you can only manage how you respond to it.


Elizabeth Channel said...

OK, we have so much in common it is not a coincidence you found my blog. (I love to see God work this way.)

I "destroyed" my career by a mis-spoken word in Oak Brook about 10 years ago when I accidentally used a competitor's name instead of my client's during a speaking engagement to 500. So I know a little bit about where you are right now.

You are not alone. I guess you know that already, but it helps me to say it so I will.

I *love* those multiple diagnoses. I have a draft of a post right now discussing that very issue but I'm too chicken to post it. Yet.

I am so sorry about your mother...there is nothing I can say.

I could write for days, but I'll stop at saying "yeah" I'm excited about where your blog will lead you!



Author of Crazy Jug said...

What a small world! I am so glad that God has put us together. I am looking forward to learning more about you and laughing with you!