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Monday, November 4, 2013

Spread Thin


October has always been my favorite month of the year. Temperatures are finally bearable in Texas, football season is in full swing, and pumpkin-flavored everything is in high supply. But this October, much like last year’s, kicked my ass. My kids were sick virtually the entire month, which meant that Brian and I took turns waking up in the middle of the night caring for unhappy children and, in turn, passing illnesses back and forth between each other. I’ve managed to deplete my already small stock of sick days and didn’t sleep more than 4 hours at a time for weeks.

I’ve approached this time as a slump; I assumed that we’re just going through a rough patch in terms of illnesses and doctor’s visits, but the more I think about the past month, the more I realize just how routine these circumstances have become. This is not a slump. This is our new reality.


Gamma and PopPop are life-savers.

An average week in our house consists of at least one illness, a few meltdowns, physical therapy, and a visit to one specialist or another. Add this to an already-busy schedule of two full-time jobs (plus tutoring and responding to student and parent emails, which is a full-time job in and of itself) and carting the kids to and from daycare and everywhere in between. It goes without saying that I’m feeling a little spread thin. And because of our full plates, we’ve been terrible friends to the very people that can keep us sane. We’ve flaked and double-booked and avoided social outings because, at the end of the long week, we desperately need to rest and recharge. I’ve become the very mom I always loathed; the mom who uses her kids and their germs as an excuse. It’s not that I’m trying to avoid the birthday parties or the barbecues. Deep down I know they’d be good for all of us. But I sincerely don’t want your child to come down with the funk that’s prevented us from operating on even a marginal level of sanity all week. And, full disclosure, I’m tired. I’m so bone-tired that I can barely move on Saturday, but I still have to do the grocery shopping and laundry and house-cleaning that I couldn’t do during the week because of all the aforementioned duties. 

Where can I pick up my Mom of the Year award?
Of all the families I know who are raising a child with Down syndrome, ours is the only one with two full-time working parents (to be fair, one of these families is currently looking for work. If you know of anything in the Houston area, please let me know). It never really hit me until now, but I’m suddenly realizing that these parents aren’t staying home out of choice, but rather out of necessity. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. Between therapy, specialist visits, surgeries (we’ve got another this spring), and frequent illnesses, caring for Quinn alone is a full-time job, never mind that we have another child that is demanding of our attention. And so we’ve bounced around the idea of me staying home with the boys a few times. It would mean saving the $1300/month we spend on daycare costs (which is incredibly affordable for the quality of care they receive). Quinn could attend The Rise School, a preschool for children with Down syndrome whose hours and location are logistically impossible for us at the moment. We’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this program, but it’s an hour commute each day during the hours I’m at work. Leaving my job would make this a possibility (even though the aforementioned $1300 would go towards Quinn’s tuition alone, we would find a way to make it work). And it would mean that I could provide Quinn with the attention and developmental strategies that are so important for him right now and schedule doctor’s appointments before 4pm.

But in the end, there’s too much at stake to make it possible. Money would be insanely tight. If I leave my job, there goes our insurance and the boys’ transfer opportunity to some of the best public schools in the state of Texas. But what it really comes down to is that I love my job. I can’t, even for a moment, imagine myself out of the classroom. 

We’re at an impasse. Our choices are limited, so we’re forced to make the most of a difficult situation. And the end result of our full plates is a loss of all the things that could keep us sane. This post isn’t looking for your pity. It’s the last thing I need. But I guess I am looking for your understanding. It’s why I missed that very important thing you planned. It’s why I haven’t called. It’s why I’ve put on 10 pounds since June. Forgive me my trespasses. It’s going to be touch-and-go for a while, but we’ll make it back to the land of the living. And when we do, make sure that you have a drink in hand for me. I’m going to need it.

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