I’m still here!

You may have noticed that my one week break turned into two. A covid case at Rory’s school made the autumn half term twice as long. She was back at school today. Ryan also only went to school Monday and Tuesday last week. On Monday night as he prepared for bed he sniffed twice. “Oh dear!” He suddenly yelled. “My death is coming!” Either pandemic anxiety is getting to him or he is experiencing early onset Man Flu. By about 11 the next morning I had a phone call from his school. While they could tell he was experiencing only a mild cold and couldn’t really demand I bring him home, he was also experiencing a full on meltdown with every sniffle. He bit his teacher when she attempted to give him a tissue. So, yeah, could he please have a day or two at home until he feels better? Normally his school doesn’t ask me for things like this. After all, they are a school that was created to serve the needs of children like my son.

“Yes, I can keep him home if you feel like that is best.” I said “But these aren’t symptoms of the virus so how long do you want me to keep him out? Until Thursday? Friday?”

“Actually, you are going to get a letter today from the school because we don’t have the staff we need and Ryan’s class will close Friday.”

Ok- you all. Please don’t think I am a terrible person for the genuine reaction I had to this news. Keep in mind that I had been momming 24/7 for 10 days. The government had announced a 2nd nation wide lock down as we all watched cases skyrocket and everyone is feeling anxious. Schools are open and John is an essential worker so our lives and exposure level would remain unchanged. John had graciously suggested I “have a lie in” on Sunday but even then I was out of bed by 8:40. At the very moment that his teacher told me this Aurora was behind me attempting to climb me like a tree while shouting “Mum! Mum! Mummy! Mum! Mum!” because we are currently in a phase where she feels strongly that I should only be speaking to her and when she hears my voice she immediately drops whatever she is doing to loudly and repeatedly demand my attention. I’ve also been dealing with plantar fasciitis for the last month and it had gotten to the point where the pain was no longer just in my foot but instead shooting in lightning bursts up my shin and into my knee and hip. Add to that, it was election day back home and I was a nervous wreck about what the outcome would be, and what the backlash would look like. It was a lot right in that very moment. Just remember that when you start judging my sanity in a moment.

You see, when Ryan’s teacher told me his class would be closed Friday, I assumed that she meant for the rest of lockdown, and I instantly burst into tears. My fears were not completely unfounded. Ryan’s school is staffed with a lot of people who fall into the “high risk” category. Once lockdown was in place they would have the option of working and literally putting their lives on the line or staying home and receiving at least the majority of their pay. I would never begrudge any teacher who decided that it is too risky to be teaching right now. I get it. When schools reopened this summer, they only had enough staff to rotate classes and Ryan’s class was only in session on Mondays. At that point, after months of being at home, it genuinely seemed like it would be harder on Ryan to go into school once a week than it would be just to keep him home for the remaining few weeks of the school year. We decided to wait for the Autumn term and hope for the best. Since Ryan’s been back at school he has been so much more confident and calm. He is speaking more, acting out less. He’s happier. When I thought we were going to take all of that away again my heart broke for him.

Once the tears started, I could not get them under control. Aurora came around to the front of me and started demanding to know what was wrong. I could hear his teacher on the phone calling my name but I had set it down and every attempt I made at picking it back up to speak would only cause a new spasm of sobs. It felt like an eternity before I could pick up the phone again to ask “Is this until lockdown is over?”

“Oh no!” she cried “I’m so sorry! I shouldn’t have said it that way! Oh I feel so terrible!” she explained that they are keeping each class in a very tight bubble and aren’t allowing staff to move from one classroom to another so when a teacher has to take a day off the class has to close for that day. Just the one day.

Unfortunately that didn’t stop the tears because by then the floodgates had been opened. Sometimes, you just need a good cry. No shame in that. I just hope his teacher understands that I was crying for him and the time he would lose growing in such a wonderful environment, and not that I was crying at the prospect of couple more months at home with him. I eventually got of the phone and asked Aurora if I could have a huggle, but since I wasn’t talking to anyone else she was done needing my attention and had gone back to her play dough. Her instant disinterest in me made me laugh and I was able to calm myself down and make arrangements to bring Ryan home.

My little break from the blog didn’t go quite as I had planned. It turns out that when I don’t have a deadline, even a self imposed one, I will let my self care go completely undone. I had really wanted to keep writing while I was on break. I imagined myself spending a bit of time on my own after bed time. I thought I had reprogrammed myself to accept that this time is something I needed to feel happy and complete and that I deserved both things. Turns out, it is harder to bury the urge to erase myself that I expected. I did manage to keep my newly organised house in good order, though. I was firm about spending time with the kids and then spending time on my chores. I even started to set the kitchen timer so Rory could see how long it would be until I was with her again, and I stuck to that time. As of Sunday, not only was the house all in decent enough shape that we could have company (in any other year) but I had also completely caught up on laundry. I’m so proud of that achievement that I am counting it as self care. Aurora is less impressed. “Mommy, why are you cleaning?” She asked me one day. “Because, I am happier when the house is clean, kiddo. If I don’t work on it every day it will get messy again.” She looked at me for a long moment, then to the timer on the oven which still showed 20 minutes of chore time and sighed. “Well, I was happier when the house was messy and you played with me more.”

This girl of mine. She has a black belt in guilt trips. She is wise, she is precise. She knows my weaknesses and she is willing to exploit them. My other big accomplishment is that this time, I didn’t let it send me in a guilt spiral. The truth is that I have played with Aurora much more in the last 2 weeks than I usually have, and it is because the house is clean. I have been able to focus on her more. I’ve been able to relax more. I’ve been happier. Hopefully, she’ll forgive me for laughing and assuring her that she would be happy to have a clean house when we can have friends over again.

Thanks for checking in today, I hope you are all well.

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