Plant Yourself and Pivot

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Trip Giving Side Eye

We are not fine. Everything is not fine. The house is on fire and we are not fine.

“We will be sending off the biopsy…”

“Babe, the van won’t start…”

“The air-conditioning is out in the other car..”

“….possibly prostate cancer…”

“We don’t have a definite date when church will resume in person…”

“…. canceling the rest of our theater season”

“We are resuming virtually until further notice.”

“I’m sorry.  It is prostate cancer.”

“$500?! To trap a squirrel in the attic??!

“Only one adult may be with your daughter in the E.R. I’m sorry”

“That should help with the aggression…”

“He must quarantine for fourteen days. He is not allowed to come to school.”

“…can’t stop crying…”

“M.S. is like numbness. It’s starting to go up my chest, now.”

“Katy, I decided to resign coaching football. I am going to talk to them tonight.”

Public educators across the nation are sharing Amazon wish lists and brainstorming across social media of how to make protective desk shields with PVC pipes and shower curtains for when their students return. Some are asking how to make a will.    

I did not expect the social uprising and yearning for justice after George Floyd’s death but am filled with hope because of it. 

I did not expect that a stay-at-home order and a pandemic would trigger so much past trauma that I would feel the panic in my body for weeks. That families would be making decisions on sending their child to school with hundreds of other kids at a safety risk or leaving their job to stay home or that teachers and staff would be faced with those same choices. 

My van will not start. Electrical they think. The kids stayed up late to watch them put it on the tow truck. My two year old cried that they were taking Mommy’s car.  

And our eight-year-old dog – Trip, Mr. Trippers, Trip Trip – stopped eating, urinating on our bed for the first time, throwing up, slowing down, and then just last week they found a mass near his prostate after an ultrasound. 

“We will get the results in a few days. It could very much be prostate cancer. Would you like us to send the biopsy off? That will be an additional $180.”

The biopsy came back. It was prostate cancer. We said our final goodnight and let him go the next day. It was so quick. I have never witnessed my husband cry that hard.  

The van, the dog, the learning curve of virtual learning, the understanding that by resigning coaching we are giving up additional income. Income we needed. My husband Zoomed his way through virtually introducing 7th grade science for the eighteenth year of his teaching career.  

Sacrifice. He is sacrificing a love of the game of football, a talent of coaching boys and girls the game, and a gift of teaching what the heart of being a team really means, all because our family unit needs him in this season. Seventeen years.  

I think some of us get to a place in life -whether circumstance, the storyline we chose, the character we were forced to portray, or anything in between- and think how in the hell did all of this happen and I’m still here? We were just coming to terms and finding our new rhythm and role within the new normal of this absolutely unknown journey called 2020.

And yet, raggedy ol’ Hope pops her head in amidst the chaos and screeches at the top of her lungs,

PIVOT, GIRL. PIVOT!”

Pivot. It is a noun, adjective, and a verb.  You can be pivotal. You can play a pivotal role.  or you can pivot, revolve, rotate, or turn as needed.  

And we were created to be all of them. 

Everything we need to survive is not only within us – it IS us – whether we feel that we are in control or not. It really has nothing to do with moving forward but the waiting and planning out the best move. We may not be able to control the outcome but have power over our reaction, how we move, and who we move to and away from. We are the turning point.  

On one of our many family hikes during quarantine, we were hiking through a rough terrain of hills, uneven rock, unknown plants, and even calf-high creeks.  My four-and-a-half-year-old son started chanting this old summer camp song:

“Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. We’re just gonna have to go through it.”

And we did. But we evaluated every step. We found dry rocks to balance on. We looked for the least muddy part of the path. We took our time. We held hands.  

We still got dirty. We still got wet. But we went through it.  

My body survived alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, and a pack-a-day of menthol cigarettes. 

I might have been crawling (and coughing up a lung) but my story was not over. I got up. I realized my worth and I PIVOTED.   

I married a very patient man with a saving’s account who is also deathly allergic to cats. I then survived re-homing my two cats to a childhood friend. While still grieving my expectation, I pivoted but I was in control every step of the way. 

I gave birth to my daughter – I started to bleed out in the birthing room – Bodies shifting, revolving, twisting, tubes, blood, twirling all around. It was a life or death kind of pivoting.

I was a foster parent to three children – crazy and hard pivoting took place. 

Adopting and parenting my son. Full complete stop. Let me explain.

We became parents to a child with Autism and born from the trauma of separation. He works through all of the physical and emotional challenges that present themselves due to those two words. As someone who is privileged to be able to publish my soul’s words each month for Indianapolis Moms, I will hold space for the details out of his privacy but I will say this: Some days feel like a raging war in my home. Some days feel like Christmas morning. Some days, they are both. They can switch in seconds. There is little peace. The moods, the aggression, the therapies, the frustrations, the medications, the should-we, and the should-we nots. The feelings of inadequacy and voices raised.  Survival mode on repeat. The guilt when I let down my guard is beyond me at some moments. Some days I wake up thinking I won’t be able to last the day. I surely can not go through that again tomorrow. 

We are in the thick of it – the unknown brush, the uneven rocks, dirty rushing water that may sweep you away at any moment. There is no special-needs pivoting parent handbook as far as I know. Yet, we show up – tear-stained, bruised, bitten, and feeling defeated, but we show up.

In every hard thing, we step with one foot while the other foot remains at its point of contact with the floor. We are planted. We are anchored. We are steady. We evaluate. We take our time. We decide the next move. We have the power because we have the ball. 

And we have Raggedy ol’ Hope – our biggest and crazed fan- who continues to loudly remind us from the stands or quietly as we hold our dog as he takes his last breath:

“Pivot, girl. Just pivot.”

And we do. 

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Katy is an actor, studio vocalist, and writer. Theater credits include Actor's Theatre of Indiana, Beef & Boards Dinner Theater, Fireside Dinner Theater, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Magic Thread Cabaret, and Carnegie Hall. Her studio work can be heard on many Broadway Jr. recordings, Hal Leonard Publishing, and Plank Road Publishing. Her writing has been featured on The Lilly/Anxiety Chronicles published by The Washington Post and Sweatpants & Coffee. She holds a Masters in Special Education and just recently transitioned out of the classroom to full time Momming/Home CEO and raising her two toddlers. Katy is a grateful recovering alcoholic, sexual trauma survivor, and proud adoptive mom. She and her husband live in Fishers.

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