It is a strange thing, how this quarantine has affected the family. There was a time when large amounts of relatively unstructured time at home with us would have sent Mary over the edge. During school vacations or weekends she would tantrum and rage. Therapists would always remark that these school holidays were typically “slow times” for their agencies. They would marvel at how our children’s responses were completely upside down from the “normal” problems they encountered. Yeah, I know, major plot twist!
Inwardly I’d groan and roll my eyes because attachment difficulties present quite differently than other emotional problems for children. The agencies responding to our crisis calls or dealing with outpatient clinical services were unaware of this difference. Being home was harder for our kids. As in, they typically were worse around their attachment figures aka “parents.”
These days everything is different. Mary used to have a disorganized or “push/pull” interaction with Luke and I. She would rage at us yet seek to control us and keep us near. At times it seemed as though she were desperate to possess me while simultaneously despising me.
These days Mary trusts us more. She’s transitioned into a desire to be with her parents every second of every day. Her need for attention is still exponential but gone is the need to push us away. She is insecure about her ability to function or survive without us but she is much more comfortable with us around. Thanks to Covid19 we are ALWAYS around.
Friends with children like ours would often proclaim the benefits of homeschooling. To me it seemed that the opposite would be true. Why remain home with a child raging at you all the time? Wouldn’t that just trigger their attachment related panic responses? Who would benefit from this?
I suppose I was drastically wrong. Mary is absolutely flourishing right now. Although she checks on her parents every hour or so, she is much more calm and regulated. Anytime she wants to, she can reassure herself we are still here. She’s even happy that no one ever leaves the house. In fact, she’s dealing with this lockdown better than any of the rest of us.
I’ve been hesitant to write about our family’s quarantine experience. Mostly this is because I know it’s different than a lot of people’s. We are fortunate that I can work remotely so our finances haven’t changed much at all. The money we used to spend at restaurants or for sporting/social activities for the kids now goes to the increase in grocery prices. We are so lucky to have not been seriously financially impacted.
Luke and I had the last living donor kidney transplant in our area the morning of the day that a pandemic was declared. Many people are still waiting on this life saving procedure. We were able to recover in the safety and comfort of our home while others had to wait. How lucky is that?
At the time of the procedure, Luke and I were bracing for emotional fallout from the kids. Could they cope with our recovery? Would they worry during their school days? Would we see an increase in maladaptive behaviors? Well, we shouldn’t have worried so much. We should have known there’s always a plot twist.
Today, our children continued to function with relative ease. Marcus is continuing online classes. Carl misses his friends but he is managing as best he can. Luke and I get to spend a lot of time together. He has become more of “himself” now that his kidney function has returned. However, it’s not all rosy
My mother-in-law came to stay with us the week following surgery. She wanted to help out with the children for a week or two. At the time, I was concerned about two full weeks with her. I love her but we do not see eye-to-eye. Two weeks seemed like a LOT of time to be in the same house. That was before the lockdown.
We are going on 10 weeks now. She was unable to return to her previous living situation. It’s been stressful and frustrating. When I want to see my own parents I bring a lawn chair and sit outside their house. We yell to each other from across the lawn. I miss my own mother’s hugs and comfort. I’m doing my best to manage with that. Meanwhile, Mary is handling everything SO WELL.
Her mornings always start with a super-cheerful, “Good morning mommy and daddy!!” As she prepares to spend another entire day with us. There’s no need to go anywhere or do anything. Again.
It’s time I took a page from Mary’s book. You’d think by now I’d be used to the fact that nothing turns out how we think it will. I’m working on it.
**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.