We’ve been in quarantine like the rest of the world since March dealing with the effects of CovId-19 aka “The Rona”. One day Caleb was coming home from school telling his teachers “See you after spring break” and the next life was coming to a screeching halt. Most of it was a blur really, now that time has passed, I find myself thinking,
“How did we get here?” it feels like the twilight zone.
I don’t remember if we were thrust into homeschooling months ahead of schedule, or if ABA shut us ALL THE WAY DOWN, or if work started to pick up for me but it was a whirlwind that we were swept up in and I had to get things under some sort of control.
The weeks to follow would consist of long work hours for me, NO therapy for Caleb, various zoom meetings scheduled for a 4-year-old. (I suspect if you don’t have an ASD kiddo that sounds crazy, and guess what?? It is!!) But it’s the only sense of normalcy and routine that we could salvage. Caleb HATES video calls. Despite what Instagram shows by way of his occasional “Caleb Show” posts, he doesn’t like speaking on the phone, FaceTime, or anything like that so 30 min of circle time via zoom was pretty much torture. He was also supposed to have speech therapy via zoom once a week, but we never made it. The truth is, Mama had to work!!! I had my own increase in meetings now on my daily calendar and I just couldn’t. Mentally we just couldn’t do it. The same was true with ABA, we opted out of telehealth sessions for Caleb, and instead, his caseworker and I met once a week for an hour where I provided updates on Caleb and he provided recommendations on how to help him adjust to what seemed like our new normal for the indefinite future.
Initially, the Rona Break, felt like a few weeks in the summer when there is no summer school but the main piece of the puzzle was no ABA and my work was increasing by the day. Caleb has never been a fan of me working while he’s home. On school days the moment he got home he would ask “you finish with work?” and then impatiently wait the hour and a half until I was done. This just progressively gotten worse as the weeks passed. Monday’s continued to be our hardest day, the transition day from weekend fun 24/7 with mama to “mama has work” or as he says now “you have to check email?” Every move I make during the day, whether it be bathroom runs or for a snack, is met with “you finish with work?” It’s heartbreaking each time. I know I have to work and he knows I have to work but the question always stings a little. On top of that, I started to question whether homeschooling next year would be the right decision. My baby was missing social interaction and be out of the house and he was relying heavily on on-screen time which naturally had me feeling like a terrible mother.
Anyway, somehow we got through it and when I say somehow I mean tears were shed, too much wine was consumed and the house remained in total disarray. This has been our life day to date and I’d be lying to say things didn’t suffer. Gemma and I both struggled with mental health and I think Caleb did too. I’d started to notice a little regression a few weeks in with Caleb. He didn’t want to be as independent. We were back to restless nights, including the night terrors. Oh and let’s not even mention the behavior. Or should we? Yep, the throwing himself down, the hitting, the attempting to hurt himself, and the intentional urinating on himself became a daily battle.
He was acting out for attention as he had before becoming verbal and this was all triggered by various things but what it boiled down to was Caleb had become overwhelmed and frustrated beyond his control.
And who could blame him?!
That’s was how the world was feeling. I get it. I still do. However, with my sanity on shaky ground and my patience fading by the second I didn’t handle this well on some days. I didn’t give either of us much grace and it never ended well. I yelled too much. I was frustrated because I knew what progress had been made and yet we were taking steps backward. I felt out of control and disappointed in myself. I was back to square one in feeling like I didn’t know how to help him. He had words! Caleb, please use your words! Please stop screaming! Please stop crying! Just tell me how you feel!
Truth is he didn’t know. How could he? I’m good and grown and didn’t know how I was feeling from day-to-day. I should’ve given us both more grace but I couldn’t find any to spare.