My April plan was to remain curious, survive, grow compassion and nap. Today, I feel ok about those goals. I’ve been meeting some of them. Monday was a different story. Julia was difficult and I saw no end to her behavior or this time of quarantine, no break away from her, no respite to replenish myself. I wanted a few hours, the length of a school day. We can, at times, get out of each other’s line of sight, but unless we are whispering, we cannot avoid each other’s sound waves. Ironically, I am picking up something from Julia’s physics class studying waves.
Tuesday was better and Wednesday started well. I am using every ounce of organizational skill and discipline I have to keep us on track. School is a moving target with classes, office hours and services changing at least every week if not a number of time during the week. I fill in calendars, mine and hers, and then change them often. As school changes, time with counselors and therapists need to be rescheduled. There are daily lists of educational work and home tasks to be accomplished and I make sure Julia is taking appropriate breaks. I am teaching a weekly class and attending a weekly HILR class on musicals. Sometimes it feel as if all the zoom meetings are little wooden balls that are shaken up in a box. Balls get scattered on the floor, zoom meetings missed. Sometimes the balls are damned slippery.
And then there is advocacy. On Tuesday, I wrote an email to school administrators because Julia has still not gotten the support she needs. I have a meeting with our school’s sped department head today. Yesterday, Julia showed up at three office hour zoom calls to get some actual help with worksheets. Office hours are really not for this kind of work, students are supposed to come with specific questions, but until Julia gets support blocks with a teacher or aide on her schedule, we will use office hours to get individual help. If I thought she was hogging too much office hour time, I would not propose it, but office hours seem to be sparsely attended and only by those who are desperate. Um, that is pretty close to us a few days back. Two of her teacher let me know the purpose of office hours, and although they were willing to work with Julia, they wanted her to get some other support. I completely agree and we agreed to press from both sides—teacher and parent.
I am finally asking for what I need and when I hit a dead end or an absolute no, I find someone else to ask. I’ve asked administration for support time with teachers. The reply was that they were not allowed to do that, and so, we bend the rules and ask to do the same work during the office hour. And amazingly, today, Julia is getting help with her physics homework. And I let out a very big sigh.
This is survival. I need to remember to be curious to see how our challenges resolve.
On Monday, when the world looked so gray and foggy, when ambiguity completely overwhelmed me and the walls of this very lovely house were closing in, I could only see my life as without worthwhile focus, without purpose. I saw myself as only surviving and not doing anything for anyone. Not being of any use. Yes, yes, I am caring for Julia, educating her and keeping us safe, but this is not the young woman who will grow into a brilliant scientist, artist, educator, etc. It is hard to admit that I am feeling that caring for her is not enough. I want to know what the bang for my parental buck is. If I have to give up so much of myself, my preferred activities—yes, if I had a typical child or if I was alone, I would be reading, writing, volunteering to help others— I want some known results. I know there is never a way of knowing what parental energy will yield but raising a daughter who needs so much, so often, it is hard to have a vision of a future where she gives something to her community, where she is of use.
I repeated a meme a while back that Shakespeare wrote King Leer while quarantined during a plague time. After being a bit haunted by such industry, I googled the idea, finding some credible evidence that it might be true. Lear and maybe more. Well, I don’t need such important focus, but if I was . . . Say sewing masks or delivering groceries, that would be enough in the here and now. When I am low, being Julia’s mother, teacher and advocate seems like a very small purpose.
Today, not so low, I feel like I need to trust this path (Trust the purpose) and follow it believing that I am doing exactly what I am here to do however humble it is. However confused or hopeless I can be.
Now on Wednesday evening, Julia did a good deal of school work today, some of it with teachers and not with me. Now, she is attending a zoom theater workshop. I taught another chapter of my Awakening Joy workshop. This is my first mindfulness teaching since I moved last July. Last week’s workshop felt awkward; this week’s was less so except for an unexpected, abrupt end when the host (not me) signed out. Later on, I have a zoom choir rehearsal. We have had a busy day and have not set a single foot outside. Thank goodness for YouTube exercise videos.
And today, I am holding on to what is good—a moment last night when Julia’s calmer spirit cuddled with me on the couch as we watch a Star Trek together. High interest for her and so surprising how she can zero in on complicated plot points.
Possibly a dayenu moment.