I don’t think I realized just how dependent we are on the “village” that helps us in raising our children until we were hit with a global pandemic. Over the last two and a half years we’ve worked, advocated and carefully navigated how to get Finn the services and support he needs to thrive, to meet his full potential and to overcome the challenges with which he was born. We enrolled in Early Intervention. We fought for access to his TVI (vision therapist). We pushed through the early transition struggles at his preschool to get him comfortable and participating. We identified the need for speech therapy, switched therapists and increased the frequency before finding the right dynamic. We found the music class and teacher that fostered his love for music, and made him comfortable enough to participate. We employed three nannies before finding the one who was the perfect fit for Finn, Sloane and our whole family. Each of these steps brought us to a place where, as of just a few months ago, we were finally settled, happy and truly seeing progress.
In the blink of an eye, as I’m sure so many others have experienced and felt recently, our team and our routine in which Finn so thrives was halted. All at once there was no more school, no more vision therapy, no speech therapy, no music class. It felt like we were alone. And, as I do best, I began to worry. What will happen to Finn’s progress in speech if he goes without therapy for months and months? How can we come up with activities and lessons at home to match what he was getting in school? How can we foster social interaction when we’re quarantined at home? How will Patrick and I fare without the vision therapist’s weekly lessons that help us adapt and challenge Finn to succeed in a sighted world? How will we balance work and the children if our nanny can no longer come into work? My son is only two and his sister only 9 months — I can imagine that the worry of parents of older children suddenly out of school, and especially those with special needs, runs even deeper.
The good thing about children is that they are resilient and adaptable. I’m not even sure Finn has noticed that his routine has changed or that he hasn’t left the confines of our house or yard in 8 weeks now. He also loves being at home where he’s familiar with his things, the rooms, the people and the noises. But, what I’ve learned about myself and all of those that our family relies on, is that we are all adaptable too. We have to be. It’s a true cliche that you don’t really know your own strength or capabilities until the challenge is right there in front of you.
Within two weeks of the “safer at home” orders here in Nashville, our music class went virtual and we now attend from our living room every Friday morning. And, honestly, Finn loves it more than ever. He gets to sing the songs and play the instruments without the added distraction of the noise of other kids in the room. Shortly after that, our speech therapy sessions went virtual as well. Finn’s school (where he receives his therapy each week) transitioned to tele-health services. Finn struggles to stay engaged for very long so I do look forward to getting back to the in-person sessions, but at least we are given examples of things to work on with him at home and he isn’t left with no therapy at all during this crazy time. Our TVI can’t come to our house every week like she used to, but she calls each week to check in and offer things for us to work on at home as well. Finn’s preschool classroom hasn’t gone virtual and we are definitely missing the socialization aspect, but the school is sending out age appropriate activities and lessons to try at home each week as well as recorded story time videos. We are so fortunate that we have been able to keep our nanny who is still coming to help with the kids while we work. We had a discussion at the start all of this and she graciously opted to quarantine with us (she only comes to and from our home). I honestly don’t know how we would have kept our sanity these last two months without her. (Side note here — I give a special kudos to her for not batting an eye when I decided that potty training Finn would be a great idea to do during quarantine. We are on day 13 of a 3-day plan if that tells you how well it’s going. I don’t know if the fact that Finn has no real reason to care about the cute characters on his big boy underwear, can’t see his Dad or I going to the bathroom as a model, or can’t gain feedback from seeing his pee or poo as it hits the potty (IF it hits the potty) is playing a factor, or if I just have a very stubborn child — I honestly think it’s a combination of all — but yes, a special thanks to our amazing nanny for enduring this and being just as determined as I am to see it through and ensure Finn doesn’t go into high school in diapers.)
I quickly realized we weren’t alone — we had a QuaranTeam.
I’m trying very hard to focus on the silver lining in all of this which includes more quality time with my husband and children, less work stress and no work travel, and so importantly, this realization that our support system is there for us even in the craziest of circumstances. Life in quarantine with two young children has its difficulties (I’ll admit I’ve had more than one occasion of sudden tears shed and wishing we could opt for some screen time for a break), but, life in quarantine is hard for everyone. There is no script for this and yet, we are all figuring out how to play our part. A friend recently sent a quote that essentially said working, parenting, teaching, being a therapist (among other things) are all full-time jobs in their own right. Right now, many of us are trying to do all of them at the same time. It’s just not possible! We need to continue to rely on our support system in new ways if we can. And most of all, we need to cut ourselves some slack and recognize that we are all doing our best during this unique, trying and unsettling time and, that our best is enough. Our kids will come out ok. We will come out ok. And we will be stronger for it, I’m sure.
I write this post for one reason and that is to say THANK YOU. Thank you to all of those in our QuaranTeam who are helping us to keep it together. Helping to maintain a sense of normalcy for our family. Helping to educate, care for, treat and entertain our children. Helping us to stay sane and stable. There are so many on the front lines of this daunting situation who are working tirelessly, and that includes all of the teachers, therapists, childcare workers, and support groups who are finding new ways to stay connected with the children and parents who need them. I’m beyond grateful for ours.
Stay strong and well!