Maybe it’s the recent full moon or the pollen stirred up by the wind. Perhaps it was a rewrite of the long to-do list. Could it be the reintroduction of school nights as we head back to in-person classes? Whatever it is, I woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed. Not your run-of-the-mill variety of overwhelm, but an agitated, anxious kind of overwhelm that’s accompanied by tiredness.
This is not a fun combination. If a sense of overwhelm sets in, I can usually muster some motivation and tackle what needs to be handled. Notice I used usually, because that’s the truth. In the special needs world, it can be tough to muster what’s needed to get certain things done. The list is long, and the energy sometimes runs low.
But when one is overwhelmed by what needs to be done, AND one is feeling spent, well, that’s a recipe for a sour state-of-mind. Did I mention the headache I woke up with as well?
I referred to getting back on a school schedule, so one would assume this means my days are opening up and providing me with “free time.” I truly thought that would be the case once my son was attending school again after 14 long months. Here comes some me-time or time to catch up on things, right?
Not exactly. What’s happening seems to be the bursting of a dam. Most parents understand that when your child is home for prolonged periods, much of what you need to do on a daily basis simply doesn’t get done. It’s no one’s fault - it’s reality. When kids are home - summer break, winter holidays, covid lockdowns - they are the priority and the to-do list is not. As it should be, we parents are “on” for longer stretches of time when kids are home all day with us.
Many of day-to-day tasks I’ve wanted and needed to tend to for the past year and a half got postponed. Now that school has resumed, that very full lake with boatloads of responsibilities and delayed commitments has breached the dam. It’s coming my way, and I’m standing at the downstream toe of the dam.
There’s appointments to be made. Test results to be shared with doctors. IEP documents to be pulled out and refreshed. Medication and supplement protocols to review and update. Back-ups to be made on the communication device (and that’s after getting a replacement because the screen shattered). Insurance matters to deal with and MediCal issues to clear up. There are reviews for benefits that need to happen with hard-to-reach agencies. And since my son’s primary care physician is leaving the state, a brand new doctor to find and get acquainted with, which is NO.EASY.TASK.
That alone - searching for and establishing with a new doctor - is absolutely daunting! With all the complicated needs, we must have someone who will get it, who will understand my son and be willing to step outside of the box to give him the health care he requires and deserves. Starting from square one with a new doctor who probably hasn’t had many adult patients with autism is already exhausting.
There are friends I haven’t talked with in months. New recipes and shopping lists I want to make (easy unless there’s multiple food allergies in the family). I have my own appointments to schedule and attend which, like everyone else, I’ve deferred for over a year. Balancing my checkbook, looking at new investments, and updating all the documents about Zach’s life that I want to upload to Vest…I feel an urgent call to address everything now, pronto, this minute!
I can step back and tell myself that not everything has to be handled today. My goodness, we’ve been in that covid holding pattern for 15 months. While many were using the at-home time to catch up on household duties while starting new hobbies, special needs parents were launched into a whole other realm. Our precious children require and deserve exquisite care, and without the gift of “free” time, a special needs parent’s life is consumed with the honorable responsibility to provide that care around the clock.
It may take 15 months to unravel all that needs to be done. Catching up, I suppose, should not be viewed as a race, but another marathon. One day at a time, as they say. It is not humanly possible to whittle down an extensive to-do list in a day or two. Although I’d like to, I have to settle for crossing out one, maybe two items each day. Without a headache and a little more sleep, it might even be three.
With the lifting of mask mandates in some places, maybe I’ll repurpose my face covering as a plug for the holes in the dam. Heck, I might even inflate a raft and go sit on that lake for a while before attempting any chore. Sometimes in the face of fatigue and deluge, the best option is to chill.
Happy Memorial Day weekend.