That’s just where we live now.

I’m not unaware of how much better we have it than others. We’re not financially struggling to put a roof over our heads or food on the table. We’re all healthy. We all like each other, so spending vast amounts of time together is lovely and not a hardship.

But there is so much that we just don’t know. And not being able to count on those things that we used to be able to rely on is tricky. Will Marc go back to work this summer? Will colleges go back in the fall? Will Jessie get to go to her Fellowship this summer? Will fifth grade just be another lost year for Julie?

I think Lizzie has a UTI. Yesterday, I happened to glance down at her while she went pee, and it was red. Which is terrifying, but it only happened once. She also was asking to go out more frequently last night, and squatting her little butt down but not actually going. We called the vet but I think they’re on reduced hours, and were already closed. They called back first thing this morning, and asked that we bring her in with a urine sample.

Collecting a urine sample was… interesting, but Marc did a great job. Weirder than trying to do it with kids, but a lot less of trying to explain what was happening. Other than a weird look Lizzie shot his way as he shoved a tupperware container (which we will be throwing away) under her, she was cool with it. She’s not acting sick at all, eating and drinking fine, and was bouncing around with her blue ball last night, so I’m not super worried. But nobody likes when their dog is sick.

Sam is finishing up his antibiotics today, and the vomiting seems to be mostly gone. I’m ramping up on the allergy meds, giving him zyrtec in the mornings and benedryl at night, but he seems to be better. He’s got an orientation and mobility session on Saturday. I’m happy that we seem to be at least moving forward a little bit on getting him the services he needs. We’ve got a meet and greet with his 8th grade teacher this afternoon, and another one next week with his math and science teachers. Eighth grade seems… way more grown up than I’m ready for him to be, and I know the hard work of transferring over ownership of his education is going to be kicking into high gear over the next five years.

Family dynamics seem to take center stage, especially when nobody has anything or anyone else to distract them. For the past few weeks, the kids and I have watched movies on Friday night, and Marc has… not. I nagged to get him to join us, and now he wants to pick a movie. Which is not unreasonable, of course, but the problem is that he likes movies for different reasons. He’s feeling hurt that I nixed violent movies and Jessie specifically asked for a movie that won’t make him sob sentimentally. I’m trying to manage that, and failing. There some other stuff bubbling around Marc wanting Sam to engage in wrestling or grappling, and Sam having no desire to do so – and my being in the middle of that isn’t helping either. But it honest to God feels like they both need me there to translate to the other – so that’s a rough situation and I’m clueless as to how to proceed.

Julie’s education over the past eight weeks has taken a hit. I’m not concerned – because I basically unschooled Sam for a year or two, and he spent a year not doing any academics at all – and was able to pick up in the 7th grade and manage perfectly well. The school has been providing work online, but it’s all below her grade level, and feels like busy work. She’s so stressed right now, and I’m worried about her general unhappiness tipping over into situational depression, so I haven’t pushed it. She’s reading a ton and working on math most afternoons with Marc, so that’ll just have to suffice until we get a better plan in place.

Jessie thinks she might have gotten the Nelson Fellowship. Her teacher says she’s got it, the judges she interviewed with yesterday said they’ll let her know next week. It’s a full time job, starting on Sam’s birthday and running for six weeks. It’ll probably be a hybrid of zoom meetings and in person sessions at the Federal Courthouse in Boston – which raises so many concerns. One – keeping the house silent so that she can have quiet zoom meetings is next to impossible. Two – the thought of putting my baby onto public transportation and into a crowded courthouse with a raging plague goign on doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy. But it’s such an amazing opportunity for her, and we have to find someway to live with Covid-19, because it isn’t going away.

One of the nicest parts of this whole self isolation is the relationships. Also one of the hardest part is managing those relationships, but that’s a separate post.

For the most part, Marc has been working 24/7 forever. So having him home means that the kids needs to relearn how to talk to him. He needs to learn how to talk to the kids. And most importantly, I need to stop being the go-between. All four of them have the tendency to try and filter information through me – and I’m working hard on trying to break that habit. Not just my own habit, but also encouraging them to talk directly to each other which is oddly harder than you might imagine.

But my favorite part of it is the relationships between siblings, specifically Julianna and Sam. Sam and Jessie are really close most of the time, but Julie and Sam haven’t really been close since his accident. Not that they don’t love each other, but actually enjoying spending time together was a lot more challenging. They play now. Actually play. Yesterday, I actually said – “Hey – if you’re going to be loud, you have to go play outside.” Because they were that loud, wrestling around and playing.

Jessie had big plans for this summer, and when covid-19 hit, we weren’t sure if any of it was going to happen. Turns out that it all probably is going to happen, which is both thrilling and terrifying.

Tougas, the apple orchard where she was scooping ice cream all last fall, is opening, on a reduced staffing level, but they’ll be in touch as the summer goes on, and she’ll probably be good to go for the apple season. And the other big news was a fellowship at the courthouse in Boston, and it sounds like that might happen as well. That involves her commuting into Boston every day, working basically full time for six weeks.

All of this would fantastic, and a huge opportunity for her, but … covid-19. Do I want my baby on the subway? I mean, I don’t want her on the subway on a normal day, but that’s a separate issue. I don’t know if it’ll be “safe” out in the world any time soon. I don’t know if it’s safe to send Marc back out either, and now I’m freaking out (on a quiet, internal level) at the thought of any one of my people going back out into the world. It’s taking a lot of energy to not freak at the thought of Julianna going back to public school. I know that she wants public school, she is definitely a child who’s happier in brick and mortar school, but is it safe?

We’ll have to balance out safety with sanity. What are the risks of exposure? How can we minimize them, while still getting a fifth grade education, working in the federal courthouse, or earning a living?

I don’t think the pain of a miscarriage ever really goes away. It’s been 18 years for me, and I’ve got three healthy, happy kids now, and there are times when I’ll hear a certain song that brings me back to that time, and I’m swept up in the sadness and grief and loss. It’s not often, but those babies I lost in that first pregnancy are a part of me that’s separate and distinct from all three of my children. Marc just wished me a happy mother’s day, and said that he still remembers that day, so long ago, when I first become a mother. And I think he was thinking of the day when our oldest daughter was born. But the day I became a mother happened a year before that, and that experience, the pregnancy and the loss, that was what made me a mom.

I remember everything about the pregnancy I lost. I remember the slow realization that I could be pregnant, the thrill of buying a test, that first moment of absolute joy before the reality came rushing in. An incredibly unplanned pregnancy, a brand new relationship, and no idea what would happen next.

I remember the next eight weeks. They were blissful. Terrifying, because I was so scared of the future, but so sure that this baby wanted to be born. That this was meant to be. When I lost the baby, when the ultrasound showed that it was twins, and one was still viable, the confusion, the relief and unimaginable grief… it was all so overwhelming. Losing the second twin, and all that happened afterwards… it was simply the worst thing that had ever happened to me, and it changed me in ways that I still can’t entirely express.

That miscarriage brought me Marc. I don’t know if we would have made it otherwise. I was scared of relationships, afraid of being too vulnerable, of getting too close. I was so completely broken after the miscarriage there was no way for me to put up any walls. I was completely honest and raw and lost. He saved me. I felt safe with him, and only with him. He gave me a place to be, he loved me no matter what, and he gave me Jessica, Sam and Julie.

Being a mother is fundamental to my identity. It’s who I am, it’s what I do. The temper tantrums, the midnight vomiting, the nights in the ICU and the hours sitting at IEP meetings. The tears and the cooking, the tiktok videos, the barbie dolls and legos. All of that is my life now, and I’m profoundly grateful, every day, that I have the opportunity to do this. My path to motherhood started in loss, and grief and terrifying fear that I’d never be able to have a pregnancy go to term, that I’d never hold my baby in my arms.

I’m a mother, and I’m forever grateful to Marc, because he loves me and supports me, in every way. I’m grateful to Lilli and Sarah, and all that they bring to my life. I’m grateful to my Jessica Mary, my Samuel Earl, my Julianna Ruth, and all the lessons they’ve taught me. All the love that’s right there, all the time. And I’m grateful to the twins, because without them, I don’t know that I’d have all the rest. They’re the way I started my motherhood journey, and my story will always start with them.

Will this ever end?

And if the answer is of course it will, when is it going to happen? How?

Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere. There have been rumors of various treatments that might or might not help. Vaccines that are whipping along the approval process but are still months away. I feel like we need to start figuring out a way to live our lives, knowing that this disease is out there, all the time.

My house is riddled with masks, and I hate them. I hate that I can’t smile at people, and have started enthusiastically saying hi to people. This ends up with me in a lot of awkard conversations with people thinking I want to have long conversations when I really just want a replacement for being able to smile. But I know that wearing them is the only way that we’ll be able to go out in the world.

On a side note – worldwide pandemic is not exactly helping me to get Sam to willingly leave the house.

Plans are still totally up in the air for the fall. Will colleges start back up? Will the girls go back to school? What will that look like? Constantly gaming these scenarios out takes up an unreasonable amount of time for me, but then again, there’s not a whole lot else I’ve got going on.

Friday is the one day that is distinct now. All the other days flow into the next, with nothing to distinguish or differentiate them. Marc and I struggled to find a way to make Shabbat special, because all of the things that used to mark the day are not happening now. We don’t get the girls for Friday nights, the synagogue is closed. We can’t go visit anyone, or have anyone over.

So we do take out and movies. We’ve watched Frozen II, Coco, Peter Pan, Footloose, and yesterday we watched Robin Hood.

Got Lizziebeth’s nails trimmed and fur cut way down, she looks like an entirely new dog now. Not entirely sure I love it – I miss my scruffy little mess. Now she’s all sleek and looks like a shorn sheep. The good news is that we also got her a new leash, and it’s specifically for dogs who pull unmercifully. It really does make an enormous difference – Julie is able to walk her now.

Things are starting to open up. Slowly, slowly, and I’m still scared. Also confused, because from everything I’m reading, it’s not like coronavirus is going anywhere, so at some point, we’re going to have to start living our lives again. Even though there’s this huge disease out there, just hanging out, super contagious and potentially deadly.

Kids are all hanging in, and Marc is doing the same. Jessie is focused all the time on AP tests and SAT prep. She leaves the house almost every day, going for walks or coming with me to the store. She never goes in, she just sits in the car. Sam is also afraid to leave the house, he doesn’t want to get sick. Which is perfectly rational, instead of agoraphobic. But he’s happy – I think this is his best case scenario. Although he really wishes the girls would stop fighting all the time. Julie is the one who’s struggling the most. She liked her life a lot – and it all came crashing down.

Marc has taken to working out daily, and yesterday, he was in so much pain he was literally convulsing in the car. I’m frustrated that he keeps doing that to himself, and not sure if he’s just really bad at working out, if he’s getting older and needs to chill the hell out, or if he’s psychologically dealing with all the anxiety and stress that he won’t acknowledge by subconsciously pushing his body far beyond what it’s still capable of. The hitch is that his mental health is so dependent on being able to get a good work out, and his diabetes is kept under control, in large part, by working out consistently.

I’m actually okay. I mean, on some level, I’m terrified. Of everything. Of impending financial doom (although we’re actually fine now), of everyone I love getting sick and/or dying. I worry about Jessie’s senior year, and then her going off to college, about Sam and being able to do things independently when he can’t get his IEP set up because of the pandemic, about poor Julie getting depressed and sad because she can’t see her friends and go to school. But when I’m not terrified, it’s actually a very peaceful time in our lives. Everyone is home, safe, and spending all kinds of time hanging out and reading. I’m crocheting a blanket.

We’ll get thru this – and probably look back wistfully. But I’d like to be able to go to the beach this summer.

We started our self-isolation exactly six week ago today. At least the kids did, Marc started a week later.

Overall, this has been great for us. I mean, it’s exceptionally stressful and scary, because nobody knows when it’s going to end, and there’s this plague out there, and you don’t know who has it. Everyone is wearing masks, they’re mandated as of May 6, but I’ve been wearing one since we started this thing. It’s slightly terrifying because we don’t know Marc is going back to work, or what school is going to look like in the fall. There are so many questions about the future, and the biggest one looming over everything is the uncertainty around if someone we love or one of us is going to get sick. And if we get sick, will we be one of those that gets really sick? Will someone we love die?

But… when you forget that – it’s actually a lovely time for us. We’re okay with money, between the stimulus and the unemployment, we’re making roughly what we were making before. The kids are all doing some degree of home education. Sam is still in on-line school, albeit on a slightly reduced schedule. Julie is homeschooling – I’m making up assignments and she’s doing a ton of reading. Jessie is happily working all the time, applying to scholarships and studying for AP and SAT tests that may or may not count. There’s no arguing to get ready in the morning, no rushing from place to place. Best of all, Marc is HOME all the time. Going from working 60-70 hours a week to being just here was definitely a big adjustment – but it’s been lovely to have him here.

All the relationships are getting stronger, the kids are spending more time together than they ever have. I’m still working on getting Marc to talk to the kids and the kids to talk to him – they all tend to use me as the go-between. But I keep reinforcing “he/she”s right there – ask him/her” and hope that it’ll start.

There are still a lot of questions. A lot of uncertainty, and on one level, I’m scared to death of the future. But when I push that level aside, and focus just on what’s right in front of me, I’m grateful for this space and time. The year before Jessie goes off to college, when Sam in the beginning of his teen years and Julie’s on the cusp of puberty, having these past six weeks, and probably the next six weeks (maybe??) is an incredibly blessing.

Julie is my reward, I used to say. She’s my easy baby, the one who put herself on a schedule at two weeks, slept thru the night ridiculously early, ate whatever I offered her, and potty trained herself just after her second birthday. She’s my social butterfly. Even with all the teenage angst that she’s decided to adopt about three years early, she’s still my tiny baby, the one who feels like the perfect culmination.

She’s brilliant, insightful and kind. Thoughtful and impassioned and private and operating on fifteen different levels. She struggles to find her place in a family filled with intensity and exceptions. She’s beautiful, so much so it’s hard not to constantly tell her so. She’s intellectual, to the point where her teacher told me not to bother with the distance learning he’s sending home – that’s geared so far below her she’ll be bored.

My Julie is endlessly dancing, loves the rain and helping in the kitchen. She walks faster than I do, and wants nothing more than to be older than she is. We got her a tablet for her birthday, and she’s on it now, texting her friends, and begging for just ten more minutes. Her hair is greenish/blue now, after begging for weeks for me to color it. And I’m thinking about her, perched on her top bunk, with her dyed hair, her tiktok account and her friends texting her non-stop.

I wouldn’t trade the last ten years for anything. And as much as I wish that she was still little, I think the next ten years are going to be even better.

Happy birthday Julianna – I love you more than you’ll ever know.