For the past 11 or so months, I’ve missed the busyness of our lives. I am not going to lie. The first few months of the pandemic were the reprieve I have long desired. I enjoyed the stillness of time spent in the backyard, scavenger hunts on walks, and the hum of virtual school background as our days stretched into months. Then those days became more stressful. I watched Sienna’s development fall behind and Haley’s anxiety escalate. We were all ready to resume our lives.
After Jason and I were fully vaccinated, we decided it was time to do just that. Sienna’s preschool opened. We chose to send Haley back to in person learning. We resumed in person activities and therapies. I immediately saw a difference in both girls. Sienna is talking more. She is playing appropriately with toys rather than stimming. Haley, for the most part, has a lightness in her step I haven’t seen in over a year. Jason began traveling again and is gone during the week. And here I am, holding down the fort. While in quarantine, I started some volunteer work which has almost become a part time job now. I am enjoying it, but it’s advocacy and it’s time consuming. I forgot about the chaos of our days, and how sometimes those days have the power to break me. The story I am about to share is about a day I recently did break.
I was in the midst of picking up Sienna from school. I had to rush to get her lunch, so that we could make the mad dash to the pediatrician for an eye infection, then it was off to get Haley from school, and get to PT as quickly as possible. I also had a zoom meeting scheduled that evening, and Jason was out of town. My phone rang. It was a neighbor calling to ask a simple question, The conversation was friendly enough and my neighbor asked how I was doing. Truthfully, this was a really rough week and I wasn’t doing well. I didn’t say that, but I said that I was struggling to come to grips with the continued chaos of our lives.
He then said to me, “You know what, though? That’s all on your terms. It could be a lot worse. You could have a job and have to be at a desk all day.”
I was so taken aback. I said, “Well, I consider what I do work.” He then said, “Oh that’s fun work. What you do everyday is fun.”
I cannot explain how angry this made me. I quickly made an excuse to get off the phone. Tears filled my eyes as I raced to get to school on time. It stuck with me though. All day it stuck with me. Fun work.
At the pediatrician as I restrained Sienna so they could examine her eye, I thought, is this fun? Racing to pick up Haley from school and get to Sienna’s therapy appointment, as my blood pressure rose, I again thought…is this fun? While there and watching Sienna struggle to do things that come so naturally to other kids, I thought…is this fun? Is this life on my terms? As we got home and I rushed to do the laundry, cook them dinner, do their bedtime routines, and get them in bed so I could moderate a zoom meeting for the DS community, I thought…is this fun? Anyone who has small children knows that very few things are on your terms at this stage.
I want to make something very clear. I respect working women with all my heart. I really do. I wish the world respected stay at home moms. When I worked, I had time to schedule doctor’s appointments for myself. I could enjoy a cup of coffee at my desk while working in peace. I could chit chat with other adults and not worry about a child injuring themselves. I could do things for me. I enjoyed it. I ultimately made the best decision for our family. Jason’s career led him to traveling during the week and my heart led me to being home with Haley full time. Those first couple years of her life were some of the best of mine. I endured four miscarriages, but I had my girl to pick me up. The miscarriages also weren’t on my terms.
I reflected on that call, and thought there was no point in dwelling on it, but I am sharing it today, so that maybe you can learn from my neighbor’s mistake. Never assume you know what a person is going through. We all have burdens and some carry them more gracefully than others.
There is an “extra” in this life. Things can be extra hard. Emotions can take over, and that can take a toll. During those still days, I wasn’t watching Sienna next to other kids her age. I wasn’t comparing her with others. There was peace in that, and readjusting to that has not come easily to me. I am not proud to say that, but it’s the way it is.
But that same day, something miraculous happened during Sienna’s therapy session. Haley participated in the session and rode a scooter down the halls. Sienna was trying fervently to do the same thing watching her in awe. I watched her cry as we pushed her, and made her forge on. It broke my heart to challenge her and watch her struggle, but her therapist knew she could do it, and I knew I could trust her therapist. I was certain this was going to be a a failed mission, but then Sienna did what she always does. She proved that she was capable. Her sister being there motivated her. I got to witness a small miracle. Tears filled my eyes for the second time that day on the way home from therapy. That moment right there makes the extra worth it. There is so much beauty in this journey. I would not change my life for anything. I am grateful for the perspective I have been given and the small celebrations and miracles I get to witness every day.
I am happy to say that I am now adjusting to the continued chaos of our lives. The muscle memory was there. I just needed to find it. Our days are flying by, but watching my girls soar as we race from place to place is a gift. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I guess some days it is actually fun.