parenting

  • It’s a beautiful day for reassurance

    It was a sunny August morning, and my husband, son and I were standing inside a giant dome-like structure in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. What were we waiting for? Why a giant stuffed tiger dressed in a red zip-up sweater, of course! You may have heard of him. His name is Daniel Tiger, and we watched him and his fellow costumed character Katarina perform an adorable stage show at Storyland.

    After the performance, children could line up to take photos with the characters. As we waited in the line, an older man – looking like he would feel more at home at a biker bar than a children’s theme park – came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder, as my husband and son continued getting pictures taken with Daniel and friends.

    “I just wanted to say thank you for being such great parents,” the man said, smiling and then walking away.

    I turned back and looked at JB, who is now playing with and gazing in awe at Daniel Tiger. Tears started flowing down my cheeks, and I smiled. This was just another moment of reassurance made possible by Fred Rogers.

    Like most children in the 80s, I grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood every day. I learned how people make crayons, music can express feelings, and it’s okay to make mistakes. (I genuinely believe the episode where he shows the book with a typo in it instilled in me my love for proofreading!)

    I moved to Pittsburgh in 2010, and was dreading the transition. Pittsburgh had only four things going for it in my mind: My fiancé, my grad school, the Penguins, and Mister Rogers. (Technically he was from a suburb, Latrobe, but as an adult he relocated to Pittsburgh.)

    Living in Pittsburgh, it seemed everyone had some connection to Mister Rogers. I loved hearing the stories, each reiterating how humble and generous and compassionate he and his wife really were.

    While in grad school, I attended a citywide career fair for students looking at careers in journalism or communications. Imagine my surprise to find one of the speakers was the actor who played Mr. McFeely, David Newell. He was there to discuss careers in public television, obviously, but was also meeting with fans. I told him how I had reservations about moving from New England to Pittsburgh, but knew it couldn’t be that bad if Mister Rogers lived here. He spoke to me for several minutes reassuring me that everyone gets homesick, and I would make this city feel like home soon. I’ll always be grateful for that kindness.

    Mister Rogers’s effect on my parenting life

    The first song I ever sang to JB at the hospital when he was born was “It’s a Beautiful Day in This Neighborhood”. I still sing him that song, along with “You Are Special”, “It’s You I Like”, and my all-time favorite “When Your Heart Has Butterflies Inside It”. We watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood – and now Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – as a family, and my husband and I sometimes point out places we’ve visited, or our favorite locations in the city. “There’s the Trader Joe’s Mommy always visited on her way home from work!” “That’s Daddy’s barber!”

    When JB returned to school full time last fall, I was a nervous wreck. Would he catch COVID? Was I protecting him enough? One particularly stressful day, as my head filled with worries on the drive to school, a song started playing from the “JB playlist” we were listening to in the car:

    Be brave and then be strong
    Be brave. You’ll not go wrong if you are right
    Keep your chin up tight
    And be brave and then be strong

    Yup, out of all the songs on my phone, at that moment that specific Mister Rogers song played. Sure, it could be a coincidence. After all, JB’s playlist is mostly Mister Rogers and Raffi songs (with some Taylor Swift for good measure). But coincidence or fate or whatever, all I know is that song was exactly what I wanted to hear in that moment of self-doubt.

    This summer has been extremely difficult for me emotionally. Our family’s bout with COVID, JB starting kindergarten, and some other changes have really taken their toll on my spirits. So last month, when I saw JB happily interact with these characters based on Mister Rogers’s work, and then heard someone telling me I was doing a good job? Well, I really needed that. And I think somehow, somewhere, Mister Rogers knew that, too. All I had to do was look for the helpers.

    Favorite books about Mister Rogers

    I’ve acquired quite the collection of Mister Rogers-related books over the years. Here are some of my favorites:

    (Please note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.) 

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  • A tea party of emotions

    A table is set for a fancy tea party, complete with snacks, tea, fine china and silverware, and flowers. The table is located next to a window looking out over the neighborhood.

    “Mommy!!!” the little boy shouted as he ran out of the school into the parent pickup area a few weeks ago. He had a big smile on his face as he hurried up to my side. Only one problem: This wasn’t my kid.

    “Right here, honey!” the woman behind me said to him, waving him over to her. In all fairness, both of us moms had the same brunette messy buns and big dark-framed eyeglasses. I chuckled, and smiled at the boy and mom. It was an easy mistake to make. So why did I feel like I was punched in the gut? And why were my eyes filling with tears?

    Then it hit me. I’ve never heard a child call me mommy.

    Okay, now I’m going to make a sharp turn now and change topics, but trust me, this segue will make sense in a bit.

    One of my favorite scenes in all of the Harry Potter series takes place in the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Hermione tries to explain to Ron and Harry that their classmate must be feeling a variety of emotions – sad, confused, guilty, worried, pained, and afraid. Ron says “One person can’t feel all that at once.”

    Hermione, proving once again that she deserves someone much better than Ron (you know I’m right), snaps back, “Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.”

    In this scene, Hermione illustrates how one seemingly big feeling – grief – can really be dozens of conflicting feelings bouncing around inside us at once.

    That’s the best way I can explain moments like the aforementioned school pickup. (See, I told you I’d come back to the original topic.) I was filled with anger, sadness, grief, resentment, frustration, and a million other things. I was experiencing a whole tea party of emotions, simply because a child mistook me for his mother!

    I’ve experienced countless “tea party of emotions” moments like this over the past few years. I don’t know if it’s because I’m the parent of a disabled child, or because I’m a parent, or because that’s just life. (I suspect it’s the last one, though.)

    I’ve just started reading Good Enough: 40ish Devotionals for a Life of Imperfection by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie. I am loving it so far, and highly recommend it. In Entry #2, the authors write, “You are capable of a whole range of emotions that can coexist. Joy and sorrow. Grief and delight. Laughter and despair. Sometimes, the absurdity even keeps us afloat.”

    Hermione couldn’t say it any better herself.

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  • Sitting is still something

    woman sitting on a sofa and looking into the distance

    During a telehealth appointment last month, my doctor mentioned she was glad to see me up and around. (We had been discussing the latest wave of the pandemic, and my ankle injury last fall).

    “Well, I wouldn’t say I’m ‘up and around’ at the moment,” I joked. “I’m just sitting on my bed.”

    “But you’re sitting upright. And that’s something,” she replied.

    JB has started sitting independently, pulling himself up from a lying down position and just sitting up, whether in bed or on the sofa or the floor. This is a HUGE milestone, and we are so proud of him for his determination and perseverance in getting to this point. The funny part, though, is that he’s remained pretty unfazed by the whole thing, giving us such nonchalant looks when we praise him for his hard work and how well he’s sitting up. To him, he’s just trying a new way of balancing himself and seeing things from a new perspective. It’s nothing to celebrate or think too hard about. In fact, the bigger deal we make out of him sitting, the more likely he is to start wobbling and possibly fall.

    I feel like that’s what many of us have been doing these past few months – just trying to sit up. Because some days, amid the omicron outbreaks and the cancelled plans and the childcare dilemmas, that is all we can do. It doesn’t feel like we’ve accomplished some major feat – we are “only” getting through this pandemic the best way we can. Like JB, we are balancing and looking at things a new way, and if we think too hard about it, we are likely to second-guess our selves and our efforts.

    So today, even if all you’ve done is sit upright, know that it’s still something. And it is enough.

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  • Thank you for being a friend

    cheesecake slices

    Like many people, I have been rewatching Golden Girls this past week in remembrance of Betty White. Gosh, that show was delightful. I think my favorite part (other than Sophia’s and Dorothy’s snarky comebacks) is just how ready the characters are to help one another at a moment’s notice, whether it’s with a funny story or a slice of cheesecake. In one episode, Blanche and Rose even filled in for Dorothy in a tap dance performance when she hurt her foot!

    In November, I sprained my ankle. It was not, as most 80s/90s sitcoms would have you believe, a minor inconvenience rendering me a charming damsel in distress. I did not win a dance contest at The Max (like in Saved by the Bell), nor did I trade places with Monica Geller and meet George Clooney (like in Friends). I could not put any weight on my foot for 10 days. The majority of my daily activities – carrying JB, lifting his 50 lb. wheelchair in and out of the car, etc. – were suddenly off limits. We are extremely fortunate that my husband was able to use paid time off, and that we have incredible family and friends nearby. Otherwise, I honestly don’t know what we would have done.

    This experience gave me a lot of time to think about what makes a real friend as the parent of a disabled child. Here’s a list of what has meant the most to me over these past few years:

    True friends are the ones who:

    • Want to learn more about your child’s different tools/equipment, so they can assist you;
    • Offer an extra set of hands, whether it’s to wash dishes or fold laundry or even just hit the pause button on the feeding pump;
    • Talk to, not over, your child, recognizing they are just as present as anyone else in the room;
    • Ask questions about your child’s interests, not their milestones;
    • Understand that you may have to cancel plans at the last minute due to illness or behavioral issues;
    • Distract you with funny texts and gifs while you are anxiously waiting to see a doctor or for test results;
    • Visit you during your child’s hospitalizations, even if it’s just to bring you snacks or play card games;
    • Arrange play dates (in-person or FaceTime) so their kids and yours can play and interact;
    • Realize that language around disability is changing constantly, and do their research because they want their words to convey the most compassion and dignity possible.

    This is not an exhaustive list, but I believe it’s a good jumping off point for when you want to help a friend who may be dealing with a child’s diagnosis or illness and you aren’t sure what to do. Sometimes, cheesecake doesn’t solve every problem (though it sure comes close)!

    I’d love to hear what ways your loved ones have helped you during particularly difficult times. Please feel free to share in the comments.

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  • In praise of Bluey

    blue toy dog in front of colorful flowers

    “Mum . . . Dad . . . Bingo . . . Bluey!”

    If you aren’t dancing right now, you probably don’t have a child under the age of 6.

    Bluey is taking over the world, and I for one could not be more excited!

    The cartoon follows the aforementioned Australian canine members of the Heeler family on their everyday adventures. Somehow, each short episode includes as many (if not more) laughs for parents as for kids, and often end with a Pixar-worthy emotional gut punch.

    JB loves this show, but truth be told my husband and I also watch it without him. Many of my friends have admitted the same thing!

    Here is a look at two episodes, and what they’ve taught me about parenting, disability, and confidence.

    Baby Race: There are numerous articles and posts online about why parents love this episode so much, and with good reason. In this episode, Chilli (aka “Mum”) tells her daughters the story of how Bluey learned to crawl. Chilli mentions it was – in her mind at least – like a baby race to see who would crawl or walk first among the other children in the playgroup. When Bluey wasn’t crawling like the others, Chilli worried, taking her to the pediatrician and questioning her own fitness as a mother. Another mom from their playgroup comes to visit with Chilli. This mom mentions she’s still learning as she goes, and this is her ninth kid! No wonder she seems like she has it all figured out. She then assures Chilli, “You’re doing great.”

    Chilli cries, the audience cries, basically everyone cries. And then we learn what finally inspired Bluey to crawl was the desire to be with her mother on the other side of the kitchen. Trust me, just watch this and prepare to sob.

    I love this episode because it addresses how easy it is to fall into the comparison trap when it comes to our children’s milestones. I’ll admit it, even in my childbirth classes, I was scanning the other pregnant ladies in the room and thinking “She’s gained more weight than me!” or “Yeah, sure, have fun with your plans for natural birth, honey!”

    After having JB, I joined an online mommy group. I would frantically worry if someone mentioned their child was sitting up already or if someone put down moms who didn’t breastfeed. When JB didn’t meet milestones, I’d assume it was my fault. Fortunately, my friends, family and coworkers were fantastic and supportive, reminding me “You’re doing great!” when I needed it most.

    Army: This episode focuses on two of Bluey’s classmates – a Jack Russell terrier named (appropriately enough) Jack Russell. It’s Jack’s first day at his new school, where he meets a classmate named Rusty. They spend the afternoon pretending they are on an army mission. (Rusty’s dad is a soldier.)

    At one point, Rusty asks Jack if there was something wrong with his old school that made him switch to the new school. Jack replies, “No, there’s something wrong with me. I’m not good at doing what I’m told, I can’t sit still, and I can’t remember anything, like numbers or letters or my hat.”

    “Oh, well you’re really good at playing army,” Rusty replies.

    I love several things about this episode. First, it reminds us adults that children absorb and internalize everything they hear us say about them. Jack thinks it’s his fault that he had to change schools because of his differences, because of what he “can’t do”. My heart absolutely broke hearing this, because I know I’ve probably given JB the impression that there’s something wrong with him. Obviously this is not the case: JB, like Jack, needs a different educational setting to better suit his unique needs.

    The next thing I love about Army is Rusty’s reply to Jack’s comment. When Jack shares that there’s something “wrong” with him (more than likely ADHD), and lists everything he’s not good at, Rusty isn’t fazed, and mentions a strength he’s already noticed in Jack. I know I’ve said it before on this blog, but kids are so much more accepting of differences than us grown-ups are. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times a child says something like, “Oh, that’s cool,” and changes topic when they first meet JB and learn about his wheelchair or feeding tube. I wish we held onto this acceptance a bit longer, before we learn to fear or judge what is different.

    Does your family watch Bluey? Do you have a Grannies bumper sticker in your Etsy cart as we speak? Do you find yourself saying “dollarbucks” and “for real life?” in everyday conversations now? Who is your Bluey spirit animal? (mine is Muffin aka the Flamingo Queen, thank you very much!) Share in the comments or on Facebook!

     

    Etsy affiliate links are used in this post.

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  • An exciting new partnership!

    “Can you start a website where you curate all these awesome finds?” my son’s therapist asked me half-jokingly (I think) last year.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I often cope with JB’s diagnosis by shopping. I’m always hoping there’s a certain toy or piece of equipment that can help him develop skills a bit more easily, or make this therapy sessions more fun for him.

     I am thrilled to announce I am now an affiliate partner of Zulily.com – my favorite online retailer! 

    Without a doubt, Zulily has been my top source for therapy (whether speech, occupational, physical or feeding therapy) and sensory items for JB. It is also where I’ve found the best selection of toys and books featuring people with disabilities.

    In addition, I do most of my holiday shopping – birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Days, Christmas, Easter – on Zulily. Since the pandemic, I’ve also been doing most of my own clothing shopping on Zulily. (Their shoes and plus-size offerings are especially fantastic.)

    See the photo above? Those are all Zulily purchases I was able to grab in a three-minute mad dash through my house. Even the area rug is from Zulily.

    Over the next few days, I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite Zulily finds both here on the blog and on social media. I’ll also be sharing suggestions from Jessica N. Turner, one of my favorite bloggers out there and a big career inspiration to me.

    Is there anything in particular you are looking to purchase right now that you could use help finding? Let me know!

    Please note: I know I sound like I’m doing an infomercial for Zulily, but this is not a sponsored post. If you buy something through the affiliate links used in this post, I may be compensated, but other than that, I’m just an [over]eager fan who loves a good sale.

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  • Finding a faith community that fits

    When I started Joyful, Brave and Awesome, I said this blog would not be a place to discuss religious views, except for when related to the blog’s central message of inclusion.

    Well, over the past year our family has made some changes in how we practice our faith, and I wanted to share our experience with you.

    My husband and I were raised in and educated by the Catholic Church. We met while attending the same Catholic high school, were married in the Church, and baptized our son in the Church. Over the past several years, something shifted, though. I came to a point where the ever-increasing list of things I disagreed with was far too burdensome to make me want to practice my faith anymore. My husband felt similarly, and we discussed switching to a different denomination, but never actually followed through with it.

    As JB’s disabilities became more apparent and we learned more about his genetic syndrome, we struggled with how to give our son a faith community like the one we we grew up with – attending worship services, learning prayers, having traditions – while staying true to our beliefs.

    We tell JB every day that his differences don’t make him any less worthy of respect or love. He can achieve anything – pursue a career, fall in love and get married, raise a family, participate in social events, etc. Just because he was born a little different than other people doesn’t mean he is not enough, or is inherently wrong or bad. How could we justify telling JB these reassuring messages, while at the same time belonging to a group that limits people’s rights simply because of how they were born?

    I knew that if we wanted to lead by example and teach my son to have faith and believe in a higher power, my husband and I needed to make a change. As one person astutely pointed out, we were looking for a church that “preached what we practiced.”

    One of the good things about the pandemic was it caused churches to livestream their worship services. Our family was able to “attend” different Sunday services without worrying about when to sit, stand, kneel, sing, pray, etc. We also didn’t need to worry if JB had a meltdown, or if his feeding pump alarm went off, or if the building was wheelchair accessible. We ended up finding a local parish in a different denomination that is a much better fit for our family. This group has welcomed us with open arms, and has gone out of their way to make sure services and special events are accessible and accommodating for JB.

    I realize no church or religious family is perfect, and JB – like any other kid – will face hardship throughout his life regardless of his religious affiliation. But I also know that, as his mom, it is my job to provide him with a safe environment that fosters confidence, compassion, and tolerance.

    Recently, I have connected with an online community of writers and readers who believe in the importance of inclusion in faith-based writing. I am so excited by the work these group members are doing! As part of this group, over the next few weeks I will be sharing information about a new children’s book called What is God Like? that illustrates the themes of faith and inclusion in one of the most beautiful ways I’ve ever seen.

    You can see a preview of the book here.

    I’d love to hear if you have positive stories of inclusion and faith, whether disability-related or not. I’m also curious if you have any stories of changing your religious practices during the pandemic. Feel free to share in the comments!

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  • Acknowledging what we’ve lost this past year

    I know it’s been quiet around here the past two months.

    I’ve had a million article ideas buzzing around in my mind, including:

    • A Dose of Awesome focused on recent TV/movie reboots I’m loving;
    • Post-vaccine life so far;
    • My husband and my decision to leave the Catholic Church;
    • JB is learning to ride a tricycle!

    I’m still going to address some of these topics in the coming weeks, but today I’m going to discuss something no one wants to have to talk about – grief. (It’s not very joyful, brave or awesome, but whatever.)

    My grandmother passed away two weeks ago. It’s still not sinking in yet; I told my husband it feels like I’m in a foggy alternate universe. I’ve spent the past few days going through the motions, but feeling completely exhausted and emotionally drained.

    I’ve inherited a lot from my grandmother – my eyes, my love of Nutella and Italian cheeses (not together, as that would be disgusting), my love of libraries and reading, and my impatience and inability to keep opinions to myself! I hope I’ve also inherited her strong will and sheer determination.

    For some weird reason, I usually don’t cry at funerals. Rather, I’m exactly like Robin Scherbatsky in How I Met Your Mother, with wisecracks and a Mary Poppins-esque purse full of vices, ready to help comfort others. (I cannot find a clip of this scene of the HIMYM episode Last Words but trust me, it is wonderful.) At my grandmother’s funeral, however, I couldn’t stop crying. I was upset because my grandmother was gone, yes, but it was more than that. I was grieving many things from the past year:

    • I hadn’t seen most of my family (my grandmother, cousins, aunts and uncles, etc.) since Christmas 2019, and I was upset this was how we were reunited.
    • I was bitter about how much has been taken from us  – all because world leaders were reckless and incompetent and didn’t take the pandemic seriously during the first days of its spreading.
    • I hated how much the pandemic has messed with my mental health. Sometimes I tell myself I don’t have the “right” to be depressed or anxious anymore because everyone else is, too. This just makes the distorted thoughts and negative thinking spiral further and further out of control.
    • I worried that JB would be forever scarred because he’s already attended two funerals in his four years.
    • I was infuriated – that between pews being “roped off” for social-distancing requirements and the layout of the church, we had to position JB’s wheelchair right near the casket.
    • I panicked about the millions of “what-ifs” regarding my son possibly catching COVID while inside the church.  I was so scared in fact, I had my husband leave with JB halfway through the service. Would this be my new normal, constantly anxious and vigilant that until JB is vaccinated, every person out there is a possible threat?

    It has taken me a week to write this post because I feel guilty complaining about these things when I know so many people in this world have faced far more over the past year. More than half a million lives have been lost in the U.S. alone due to COVID-19, and each of those people leaves behind people mourning their loss.

    If you – like me – are feeling overwhelmed by what you can do to help people get through a second year of this pandemic, I encourage you to view this list of donation opportunities from CNN. Sometimes, I feel like looking outside myself and helping others is the best way to help alleviate my own grief, as cheesy as that sounds.

    As Michael Gary Scott, the wise former Dunder Mifflin Regional Manager, Scranton Branch, once so eloquently put it:

    Society teaches us that having feelings and crying is bad and wrong. Well, that’s baloney, because grief isn’t wrong. There’s such a thing as good grief. Just ask Charlie Brown.

    What have you been grieving lately, COVID-related or otherwise?

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  • Back to school . . . in March?

     

    Okay, have we got JB’s backpack? Check.
    AAC device? Check.
    Glasses? Check.
    Leg braces? Check.
    Feeding tube emergency kit? Check.
    Jacket? Check
    Face mask? Check.
    Additional face mask? Check.

    I am reviewing everything one last time in preparation for tomorrow. It’s JB’s first day of school: Well, his first day attending school in person in 2021. This week, he will begin attending some of his therapy sessions in person, along with outdoor recess with his classmates. We are finally allowing him out of his pandemic bubble, and I’m not sure if I’m excited or if I want to keep him in this protected cocoon a little while longer.

    Almost all parents have had to grapple with decisions like this over the past year. Is it safe for my child to return to school or daycare? Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? Should we wait until there’s a vaccine approved for kids? Can we buy enough sanitizing spray for me to sleep at night? Will the other kids be good about handwashing? Should I maybe go to class with him to make sure he doesn’t lick anything? (Pretty sure this last one is specific to me, but figured I’d keep it in here just in case anyone else relates!)

    I don’t know if this hesitation is because I’m a parent of a child with complex medical needs, because I’m a parent in the midst of a pandemic, or because I’m a parent. What I do know is JB needs to be in school again, even if it is only for a few hours a week at first. He needs to have therapists and teachers who are not his parents. He needs a classroom outside of our house. He needs to grow, and explore, and cause (good-natured) mischief, and see friends in person and not only on a screen. He needs to listen to music other than the “Agatha All Along” theme song I seem to be humming ALL THE TIME.
    And yet, right now I am literally drumming my fingernails on my keyboard – sitcom secretary style – because of all my anxiety. What if it is too soon? What if JB gets sick, whether it’s from COVID-19 or a cold or some other type of bug? I’m trying not to let my thoughts spiral out of control, but that’s easier said than done.

    Deep breath. 

    I’ve double-checked the backpack, and I think we are as ready as we’ll ever be for school tomorrow.

    Oh, and I asked my science-teacher husband; He can’t invent a Wandavision-like force field to protect JB from coronavirus because apparently “that’s not how science (or the Marvel universe) works.” Whatever.

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  • Dear JB, it’s been quite a year!

    Dear JB,

    Do you remember where we were a year ago this week? I do.

    This was the week everyone realized it wouldn’t be a matter of if, but when a pandemic would be declared.

    We were hearing more and more about COVID-19, and everyone was worried about what this meant. We were debating whether or not to send you to school. It didn’t matter, though, because by Thursday afternoon, all schools had closed indefinitely.

    Your birthday party was supposed to be that Saturday, as we had decided March would be far less hectic than the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. (We thought we were sooooo clever!) So, as everything shut down, we spread the word that the party would be held once this whole thing was over. (I wanted to keep our order for two-dozen cupcakes, but realized it may not be the best decision health-wise.) We figured it would be a few months, at most.

    We had no idea what to expect when this started. As I wrote in a blog post during that time, “It feels like we are all preparing for some big storm, but without a definite ‘start’ and ‘stop’ time. We all bought the bread and milk. Schools are closed. So when is the snow day getting here? Is it coming in a day, week, month, year?”

    We tried to keep our family as busy as possible during those first few weeks. We watched a LOT of animal-related educational videos on YouTube, taking advantage of the fact that your dad is a science teacher! You and I made loads of art projects, like the hands pictured above. I took on additional freelance writing assignments, as I found writing about “the helpers” was the best way to ease my anxiety during this uncertain time. And we spent as much time as we possibly could in our backyard, hoping the fresh air would boost our spirits.

    I don’t know what you will remember about these strange past 12 months. Will you recall all of the Zoom classes and family get-togethers? Will you tell people how unbelievably cluttered our house was once it also became a 24/7 preschool/therapy room/high school science classroom/office/restaurant/movie theater/concert venue/doctor’s office/summer camp? Will you look back longingly on the small, quiet at-home celebrations we had for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas? Will you one day tell people about how your crazy parents went through all sorts of “phases” during this time at home, including (but not limited to) sourdough, model building, succulents, painting, and Tiger King phases?

    Friday, one of your school therapists said to me excitedly, “Megan, I hope you see that there is a light at the end of this tunnel,” as she and I discussed plans for you to return to some in-person classes. I am still afraid to “jinx” anything, but I am once again starting to have hope.

    One of my favorite writers, Emily P. Freeman, said the following in a recent episode of her podcast The Next Right Thing:

    When I look back to this time one year ago, one thing that stands out was how impossible it became to make any plans at all. We were at the beginning of the great pause, but we didn’t fully know it yet . . . . So much felt impossible for so long, and some things still do, if I’m honest, but one question is rising up in me . . . . Is it time to dream again?

    JB, I have no idea what this next year will bring. I know there are positive signs, such as the vaccines, new national leadership, and the reopening of schools. Is it time to dream again, though? You bet it is! We may have to wait another year before we take that trip to Sesame Place, but nothing could postpone your strength, resolve and sense of humor. Kid, you’ll move mountains!

    Love,
    Mom

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