I had a baby on January 27. It was my fifth baby in seven years. It jarred my world so quickly, presenting my family with its biggest adjustment up to that point. But today, the fact that I’ve given birth to another human being so recently has been lost in the bigger challenges of the world.
Just a month ago, my newborn turned six weeks. That Monday (I think it was the full moon, daylight savings, and Friday the 13th week), I was cleared from my doctor to resume normal life. On Tuesday, my baby came out of her Pavlik harness for hip dysplasia, and my four other kids were finishing their last week of school before March break. I was just starting to think about exercising again. My husband and I were wrapping our heads around how to manage the challenges of a newborn, an intense sensory-seeking toddler, two feisty and sassy preschoolers, and a first-grader who is too intelligent for his own good. I was also beginning to toy with the idea of officially launching my freelance writing business as a side gig.
And then… by Wednesday of that same week, things started getting strange. Events started to cancel, activities had fewer attendees, and by Friday our family was in day 1 of quarantine.
Six weeks later, I am still asking myself what in the world just happened? While I obviously know what is going on, it is all so surreal. How is there no school? How was something like this able to happen? How were we so unprepared? Were we all really too busy and over consumed to miss this? When can I get a break? I feel like we jumped worlds overnight with our eyes wide open.
Before COVID-19, I had all sorts of ideas for blogging. “A Large Family with a Newborn.” “Gearing up for Pool Weather.” “Large Family Parenting Hacks.” Some may still be relevant sometime down the road, but right now they fall just a bit short of reality.
After COVID-19, I searched for topics to provide guidance, hope, support, understanding, or clarity to my fellow moms, but in reality, I have none of that to offer, except maybe hope. I am at a loss. I have no idea why this is happening, how it will unfold, and what next fall will look like. I don’t know what to do with kids all day or how to crisis-school them without an epic meltdown.
I’m exhausted. I’m mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. Half the time, I can barely process what is going on because the newborn needs to be fed every few hours and the rest of my kids crawl into bed with us throughout the night, desperate for cuddles and security.
We try every day, and when it fails, we try again. What I do know, though, is that my general optimism and positive outlook on life will somehow help us to find the hidden gem in all of this.
Just before the world turned upside down and flipped inside out, we had a plan. We knew the direction our family was going. My husband and I had had many discussions about what lies ahead for us in regards to careers, schooling, and family values. We stressed over bills and tuition, social and family pressures, and parenting and personal values. We had made hard decisions.
Now it is all back on the table again. But this time it’s different. This time, there is time. Time to think, to talk, to think some more and talk some more. There is time to reevaluate and wonder what will be the same and what will be different. We can address our vulnerabilities, now that they are exposed. We can ponder the why. We can think about the how. We have time to grieve what was and now no longer is. We have time to let go.
What I do feel right now is a sense of opportunity. A chance to really do some things differently and more in line with our values, hopes, and dreams. The time we have right now lends itself to really thinking hard about what matters most. I’m not interested in holding on to what no longer serves me or my family in hopes that it will come back the way it was.
Instead, I want to let it go and find a new path forward with all the stuff that matters most and none of the stuff that never mattered. I don’t know why this all happened, and it breaks my heart to see so many lives taken from us, turned upside down, and forever changed. But I want to believe we can become better, to be better. To let go of what was consuming us, tearing us away from what deep down we really wanted for our lives and our world, and stirring up inside each one of us the necessary motivation and strength to see it into reality. Maybe this will last as long as it takes for us to be ready. But for this big of a thing to take place, the reason and outcome must be just as big and important. And that gives me hope.