Well Momfaming friends, it’s been a while. In order to catch you up on my life let’s rewind to February of last year…
- I went out to dinner to celebrate my 35th birthday with my 3 best friends…little did I know this would be the last time I would step foot in a restaurant
- I took Ryan to his Physical Therapy appointment…not realizing it would be his last in-person therapy
- We went to our local Gigi’s Playhouse for Ryan to play with some friends…having no idea that it would be his last chance to see other kiddos
- Oh yeah…and I found out that I was pregnant with my second child.
To say this past year has been difficult is a gross understatement. Moming through a pandemic is something I never imagined I’d have to do and it is anything but easy. Since I know a lot of others are in the same boat, I decided I should share some of my experiences and hope others can relate (or commiserate?!)
Tell us about yourself and your family.
I am Erin, the other half of the Momfaming Duo. I have a spirited 3 year old who is rocking an extra chromosome (Ryan) and now I also have a 3 month old “pandemic baby” (Lincoln). I found out I was pregnant with Lincoln a few weeks before all of the craziness began. I remember when I was finally telling people I was pregnant everyone’s response was “at least all of this will be over by the time you deliver”; boy were they wrong! Every single one of my prenatal appointments as well as my delivery were during the pandemic. I wouldn’t suggest being pregnant during a pandemic, but I’m glad I was because now I have another amazing boy to add to our clan.
I am also a “retired” teacher turned stay at home mom and I never once questioned that decision until the pandemic hit. Being a stay at home mom during a time like this is a whole different ballgame!
How has life changed for you since quarantine began?
Well, we basically don’t leave the house. All of Ryan’s therapies have turned virtual and we have stopped doing any activities with the kids outside of the house (besides for playing in our yard and walks around the sub). The only person outside of our house that we see is my mom so we occasionally go to her house too. When the weather was nice we saw a few friends outside a handful of times and I am hoping to be able to do that again come spring.
Not leaving the house has definitely changed my stay at home mom parenting style. We used to make sure we had something fun to do outside of the house at least a few days a week to keep us sane (even if it was just running to the grocery store). We also tried to get together with friends for play dates as much as possible. Without being able to do those things we have had to come up with different ways to stay occupied. In the summer we bought an inflatable pool, swing, and slide to have in our yard so that Ryan would have things to do. Now that it’s too cold to go outside for long periods of time we have had to become more creative; like dance parties, baking, and an indoor basketball hoop! It hasn’t been easy, but we are making it work (barely)!
What is something positive that has come out of having to quarantine?
My husband has been able to spend more time with the kiddos. As a stay at home mom I was already present for all of the milestones and funny stories throughout the day; now he is able to join in with that too. He is working from home most of the week so he is able to come down and play with the kids while he’s taking a break as well as eat lunch with us.
It’s been so nice to see his and Ryan’s relationship flourish because of this. Ryan used to only come to me for things, and now he’ll go to his dad too. Sometimes he’ll even take something away from me to bring to his dad because he’d rather play it with him. Although that stings a little, it’s also very nice to see (and even gives me a break every once in a while)!
What is the hardest part about it?
There are so many things that have been hard about quarantine; not seeing friends, not getting any alone time, not getting to see Ryan with kiddos his age, not being able to introduce Lincoln to anyone, and not being able to just throw the kids in the car to run some errands. Without a doubt the hardest part for me, though, is having to decide between Ryan’s health and his development.
Like I said before, Ryan has Down syndrome so he used to have PT once a week through the school district and had also just started private PT and Speech through our local hospital. I was also going with him to a class once a week where he was socializing with peers as well as learning the classroom routine. Once everything shut down, that included all of his therapies. He would continue virtual PT and OT and in the fall we began virtual preschool.
Trying to get a 3 year old (especially one with Down syndrome) to sit at the computer for PT, OT and/or preschool has been quite the challenge. It is a constant battle and I know that he is not getting anywhere near as much out of it as he would be if he were attending in person. He has made some great progress during quarantine (he started walking) but I also know that things are moving slower than they would be if he could be face to face.
On the other hand, Down syndrome is considered a high risk group when it comes to the coronavirus. Because kids with DS are immunocompromised and have low muscle tone they usually have serious side effects if they get any respiratory illness. We have been very lucky with Ryan and haven’t encountered these issue at all but we do not want to risk it. Ultimately we decided to keep him at home because we know that is where he is safest, but I still feel guilt every day that he is not getting the support he needs to develop his skills.
What have you learned about yourself during this time?
That I can do anything life throws at me and no matter what I can put on a brave face for those around me. Living through a pandemic while pregnant and then with a newborn and toddler is TOUGH and although I have been super frustrated and even sad some days my kids would never know it. I have always prided myself on the fact that I have a lot of patience, and boy was that tested this year. Did I have as much as I thought I did? Probably not. But no matter what was going on in the outside world (or even my head) my kids lived as normal of a life as possible through all of this.
What surprised you the most about your child(ren) during this time?
Well Lincoln has only known this way of life (poor kid) but it really surprised me how much Ryan apparently thrived on socializing with other people. Since I am a stay at home mom he has never been in daycare so I would never have labeled him as a social kid. But now that he does not see anyone besides mom and dad (and occasionally grandma) I can tell it’s affecting him.
We were lucky enough to see my brother, sister in law and niece and nephew over Christmas and he was a completely different child. He loved playing with his cousins as well as being around different adults. It was like a weight was lifted off his shoulders and his frustrations seemed to go away. This makes me even more excited to be able to get together with friends again!
What are you most looking forward to doing once life gets back to ‘normal’?
Getting a break from being a mom! I can’t wait to just go out with my friends (without the kiddos) and talk about normal things (in between complaining about our kids and our husbands) while sipping some wine and eating some good food. I never realized how much these nights away gave me the restart I needed to continue to be the best mom and wife I can be.
What is something you began doing during quarantine that you will continue to do (or hope to) once it’s over? Why?
Asking for help. Even without a pandemic I can’t do it all, nor should I have to. As a stay at home mom I feel like there is a lot of pressure to do everything yourself instead of asking your spouse to help because they have been working all day. Well now that we have two and are living through such a stressful time, I have realized I just can’t do it all myself. Some days I need my husband to take one of the kids while I deal with the other one, and other days I need him to take both while I collect myself. And that is okay. Pandemic or not; stay at home mom or not; I need help and I am now not afraid to ask for it!
Anything else you want to add?
I just want to make it clear that I know that in the grand scheme of things we are extremely lucky. We have not lost anyone close to us to this horrible virus nor have we gotten sick ourselves; we have a safe house to quarantine in with everything we need to keep us comfortable; we have not lost much income due to things shutting down; we are able to buy enough groceries to stay healthy; and we have each other and two pretty amazing kiddos to keep us company while we are stuck at home. So although this was one of the hardest years of my life, I know that others have had it MUCH worse and my heart goes out to them every day.