Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Smoldering Embers of Weaponizing Gratitude

Me and My Sailor, Christmas Day, 2019

When we went on a Very Merry Christmas Cruise over Christmas in 2019, My Sailor had concerns. What would we do about presents? What about a tree? What about all of the expectations of extended family?

No doubt, they were legitmate, but I wasn't honestly worried about any of it. As much as I love traditions, I love adventure more. Needless to say, we had no idea just how much of an investment in our sanity that trip would be. 

Today, I put on my hoodie and I noticed that it was from Oktoberfest 2019 - the last time I traveled with my Mom. 

In June, I got to spend some time with my family in California. 

I am not in dire need of housing or food or any necessities. 

(And, ya know, there is a pandemic going on.)

I am very grateful for all of those things and more. I am deeply truely 100% grateful. (Okay, not for the pandemic. Rona can go F* itself. I'm so over that...)

But that does not mean that I am not alos feeling a million other things. 

Here's my cold hard pandemic realization. 

I can be completely grateful for all of the comforts of my life - I have an essential worker in my life. I'm at no risk of losing my home although I stand at constant risk of losing said family member. I have a job I love and clients I can bolster through this storm. I have an awesome kid whos medical issues are considered mild. I have friends local and abroad who care about me. I have a lot of reasons to feel gratitude. And I count my blessings throughout my day. 


I am frustrated with my inability to confidently book a family vacation! I'm accustomed to coping with the insane Navy scheduling I have to contend with to make these relationship building trips a reality, but this time, I also have the state of the world during a pandemic to consider. So far I have 4 plans, and I can act on any of them, depending on what the world looks like then. 


I am terrified by the current state of affairs. I told my kiddo, who was bouncing around the house as she does in the late afternoon, that she needed to be careful. She asked why and I am always honest with her. "We might not be able to get help quickly if you smash your head into that window. The doctors and hospitals are very busy right now. There might not be help for us for a while." Our local ER has been seriously backed up. She understood and toned down her bouncing a bit. 

Now, The Impossible Girl's medical issues are mild. Her stutter, her speech, her asthma, and her Central Sleep Apnea and newly labeled tachycardia. are all considered very mild. We go to speech therapy to help with her speech. We have an inhaler for asthma should we need it. She sleeps with an alarm that goes off and wakes her up if she isn't getting enough oxygen. The tachycardia is her body's way of getting enough oxygen to her tissues when her O2 levels drop. It's all stuff that someone else might just assign away to "My kid has never been a good sleeper." But we dug deeper and we know why now.

That's all stuff we can do something about - even a little thing. 

We don't have to use her inhaler much at all, since it's viral induced asthma. 

Read that again friends. Viral Induced Asthma.

That means that when she gets an upper respiratory infection, it's likely to turn into pneumonia. 

If you haven't held a 6 month old wracked with pneumonia, let me tell you - the experience stays with you. The sweating, the shaking, the coughing that doesn't stop... Scary is an understatement. And it literally happened over night.  
Since then, she was diagnosed with pnuemonia 2 more times before she turned 5. Luckily, since that first time made us cautious, we know the signs and catch it early now, and once the world closed down and people started wearing masks, she got sick a lot less. It gives her developmental stuff a chance to catch up. Her sleep and her neurological ticks are closely linked. 


I am exhausted. I've been dealing with the majority of the pandemic on my own, knowing that My Sailor is out there protecting our family. Between the political upheaval of the last 2 years, the pandemic, the deployments, the old house, and keeping a small business alive during all of this, it's been a hell of a lot. And sometimes I'm just plain exhausted doing it all myself. Sure, I ask for help from my few local friends. I call my mom weekly to chat, and I connect with friends when I can - and I am generally not one to complain about being lonely. I made friends with that strange emotion decades ago. 

But I am a mere mortal, and doing all the things, all the time, is just plain exhausting. I do believe we as a family and we as a society will find a way through this, but some days I'm too tired to do much than sleep on the promise that 'tomorrow will be better'. And sure, solo parents are dealing with the same thing all the time. I get it. I should count my blessings, and I do - which brings me to - 

 More than one thing can be true. 

We are beautifully complex beings. I took some time today to recognize all of it - grateful, frustrated, angry, confused, exhausted and terrified. Yes, you can still be an optomist and see the world for what it is. It's feeling all the feelings and deciding to choose hope when you can - while completely honoring the other emotions as valid. 

Me? I'm looking forward to other gatherings with my entire little family some day. I realize I am privledged to be able to look forward and scream "I need a break!" despite having had some days away in June.  I realize all of that, but it doesn't change the fact that some part of me is angry and exhausted. 

All of that is equal and valid. 

 For tonight - I'm grateful for the memories we've made, frustrated by the state of the world, and exhausted enough to go to bed. 

Stock photo