I think it probably goes without saying at this point that it’s been a bit of a year. January and February were hunky dory, but March was not our friend and honestly, neither were April, May, or any of the months that followed. Now it’s nearly November and this week our 4 year old made ice cream with his class on Zoom and honestly folks, the fact that that didn’t seem odd was weird in itself.
I’ve spent most of the summer (and fall) feeling that each day looks a little…Groundhog Day-ish. Wake up, eat breakfast, do our best to make it to lunch without too many meltdowns, lunch, quiet time (in which I basically sit very still and wonder why no-one seems to want to nap when this is all I can think about doing), and then games and long walks and worksheets (because our 4 year old loves nothing more than a good worksheet) until it’s finally 5pm and I can reclaim my husband from his office.
When our youngest was little, people used to say to us that the days are long, but the years are short. I’m decently certain that whoever came up with that saying did not foresee 2020, in all its glory, where the days are long and the naps are short and honestly everything is sort of on fire and no-one has any idea what’s happening.
And yet, there is something about lockdown that has brought us some semblance of peace. “Peace” seems a strange choice of word when my head is so often these days filled with worries about loved ones getting sick and the constant demands of preschool via Zoom (which, my friends, is quite the thing), and yet in some ways at least, things are a little easier.
Mornings, once frantic with our attempts to squeeze in a stupidly early breakfast and stabilize blood sugars before school, are slower now. More gentle. I made (and burnt) French toast for breakfast for the first time this week, and now have time to curl up on the sofa with the kids as they watch cartoons, rather than darting around them gathering snacks and packing backpacks.
Instead of walking (read: sprinting) to school, we now wander together through the fields or around town almost every morning, collecting leaves and acorns as we go. We race. We sing. We talk. Mostly about Pokémon, admittedly, but we do talk more these days.
At home, we dance and we bake. We also argue over who gets the cookie with more chocolate chips or who built the biggest tower (because sibling rivalry is real here, folks), and engage in a healthy dose of bribery at bedtime. But I’m learning grace. I’m learning to cut myself some slack on the bad days. I’m realizing that nothing horrible happens if his blood sugars have an off day, or three. That a movie afternoon doesn’t turn anyone’s brain to mush. I read something the other day about the difference between what we’d say to a friend who was worrying that they weren’t doing a good enough job at parenting, and what we say to ourselves. I’m trying to talk to myself a little more like I would my friends these days. Because this is hard, guys, really hard. Let’s not make it harder on ourselves.
Two hours spent on Zoom with a bunch of preschoolers each day can be, ahem, challenging, but it’s also adorable. We’re working really hard to help our oldest understand the difference between a “question” and a “statement” (it’s not sticking) and he pretty much never shares anything relevant to what’s being asked, but he’s happy, he’s getting some semblance of social interaction and he’s growing. I can see it.
I’m no longer glued to my phone in case the nurse calls with a question, and being the sole person responsible for daytime numbers has allowed greater continuity and tighter control. The nights still suck, but not always, and the slower days make for more flexibility and spontaneity. More laughter.
This is not to say that this pandemic has been easy. Or that I wouldn’t prefer to be out there, picking apples and spending afternoons with friends and family as the days grow shorter and the nights turn colder. Much like T1D itself, none of this is what I’d choose. I don’t think any of us would choose this. But it is what it is, and I’m acutely aware that I’m lucky to be able to use this time to slow down, where others cannot. So just as my heart was happy in March, when the birds and their songs returned to our garden, my heart is happy now for a little more time, as the leaves fall, to soak up these two little ones before they get much bigger.