In a meeting with Rachel’s school last week, I was shocked to find out they had started a new sensory program for her. Three weeks ago. I leaned back in my seat and tried to swallow the lump in my throat. Another thing I didn’t know about my baby …

Lately, this seems to be my daily story. My little chicks are out of the nest and out from under my constant supervision. When they were little, I knew everything that happened, including when they pottied. I was an integral part of their lives. Lately, I feel like an outsider. It caused me to think about some of the other moms I know, especially the ones who work long and hard hours outside their homes in addition to all they do as moms. Have they ever felt this way? How do they keep it together?

The situation with Rachel’s school hit me so hard because, until I got cancer, I talked to her teachers daily, more than once. I knew all about each and every day. I felt like a part of their team. But after my surgeries, I’ve been in so much pain and needed so much nursing care that my mother has been taking Rachel to school daily. I haven’t been that involved. In fact, I have almost no memory for the month of April and most of May, except being in the hospital. The feeling is horrible. I hate it, and worse, I can do nothing to speed along my recovery.

Yet, as hard as it is for me to accept, I have seen great growth in Rachel over the past few months. It seems that getting out from under her mother’s protective wings has helped her come further out of the shell autism placed around her. She is communicating more and interacting more with peers and other family members. So, even though it hurts a bit to see it and a lot to experience it, I am thankful for my illness and the good it has brought out in Rachel’s life, for the changes and strides she has made. It’s a bit like getting a dreaded bill in the mail and finding out it is a refund.