If you walked into my home, you’d see this sign right in our living room. One might find it’s an odd thing to be sitting right on our TV stand, but it sits in the room that we frequently walk through and more importantly, where I sit every morning with my coffee and pray.
In 2015 this sign was gifted to me by my dear friend, Dawn, at a difficult time when I had to make the decision to close a business to focus on being the mom and advocate I needed to be for my children. I desperately wanted to prove that I could have it all with my dream business of empowering and coaching women while being the mom my family needed and it took a couple of years to realize that I couldn’t do both successfully. I never regret that decision of choosing my family but without a doubt, it was a hard thing to do. My friend probably never realized how important of a role that sign would serve on a daily basis in my life, but it’s been the reminder I have needed especially during these difficult times that our world is currently facing.
“Unprecedented” is a word we’re hearing in the news daily these days. We hear about how the Coronavirus is leading us into uncharted waters because we don’t really know what we’re dealing with here. We’ve never been in this place where schools and businesses are ordered to be closed. Large events, Marathons and even the Olympics have been cancelled or postponed. We’re social distancing and staying home to do our part to flatten the curve and save lives. Grocery stores struggle to stay stocked as people are hoarding toilet paper, wipes and hand sanitizer. Meat, frozen foods and canned foods are hot commodities, as well. The economy is taking a beating. Thousands of people have lost their jobs. Businesses are in trouble. The news is incredibly depressing and will send you into a downward spiral. Everyone is worried. It really is a time like no other in history.
My emotions have been all over the place. Each morning I get up, pray and meditate on the words that stare back at me as I sit with that hot coffee in my hands, “We can do hard things.” I read that and reflect on how I have made it through 100% of the hard times I have been through in this life and there have been so many. I remind myself that we got through those and we’ll get through this pandemic as well.
As of late, that quiet and peaceful time at the beginning of another new day that I know will resemble much of the day before, will soon disappear as I receive updates and news about our world and it’s current state in this pandemic. On Tuesday, Massachusetts learned that our schools would be closed for the remainder of this school year. It was a decision I knew would be coming in order to keep our children and families safe, but I still was holding out for a miracle on our children being able to attend in late June for at least a week so they could have some closure on this tumultuous school year that ended so abruptly for all students.
My prayers for that closure mostly stemmed from the anxiety and watching my autistic son breakdown over the last 5 weeks because his comfortable world and routine that he relied on were all taken away from him without warning. My son needs a warning and a picture board schedule for everything. He needs timers and obsesses on dates. He needs to know when things are going to happen and end. He doesn’t do well at all with “We’ll see” or “I don’t know” which is all I can say these days when he repeatedly follows me and asks when the Coronavirus will end. He’s struggling with the Zoom classroom model because it’s all too much for him and overwhelming. He tells me home is for “homework”. School is not to be done at home in his eyes and Autism is not real flexible. I am not his teacher or his therapists nor does he want me to be. It’s not his fault. It’s not the Teacher’s or Therapists fault. It’s not my fault. Nothing is working right now, but I remind myself, “We can do hard things”.
I didn’t want to break the news to my children about schools being closed for the rest of the school year but I needed to just get it over with. I told my daughter and she was very sad but seems to be handling it well overall. She has been anxious about the virus and her loved ones getting sick and dying. I try to comfort her through my own fears. She misses her friends and her teachers but she luckily is still communicating with her friends through FaceTime and hangouts so she’s getting some social interaction outside of her family and I think that’s helped. She and I walk the dog daily and I try to let her vent her feelings to me during that time and I have seen an improvement with her emotional state which is another reminder that “We can do hard things”.
Breaking the news to my son did not go as well. Immediately his breathing changed and you could visibly see his chest expanding in and out with a force as he tried to grasp the news that he had just heard. I had him read the banner that spanned across the TV screen so that he knew it wasn’t my decision and that it was for ALL schools and he’s not alone in this. I hoped that would help in some way. It didn’t. He struggled to get words out and stuttered as he typically does when his brain is on overload and he cannot process all of his emotions, anxiety and thoughts at the same time. He broke down and began pacing. I started crying because I predicted this. This is why I was praying for a miracle. I look back at those words right across my TV screen reading that schools are closed for the rest of the year and right below it is my sign, “We can do hard things.”
He needed lots of hugs on Tuesday and truth be told, so did I. He didn’t play his music or talk about movies for a few hours as he processed it all. No music or talk of movies is never a good sign in this house. He bounced on his stability ball furiously as he calmed his body and mind. That night, no one really slept in this house because not one mind could really settle. Yesterday was another hard day with A LOT of tears but mostly on my part. As a Mom, I want to fix it and make it all better but I have painfully learned on this journey as an Autism parent is that there are some things I just can’t fix. However, I’ve also learned that “We can do hard things.”
This morning I started the day just like every other and once again stared at that sign in my living room. “We can do hard things.” I made myself repeat it aloud. I cried some more as I thought about specific difficult and trying times I have made it through and how during those times I wondered how I’d get through but I always have. I thought about how I got through and what I did each of those times. It hit me that my Faith in God, positive thoughts, gratitude for what I do have even through the tough times, allowing myself to cry and feel emotions, and to spend time laughing and being with those I love, helps me. All of these things will help get through this as well because I can do hard things.
As I homeschool my two children, I quickly receive confirmation of what I always suspected, that Teachers and Therapists are INDEED Angels on earth. They have shoes that I will never be able to fill but I must do my best to get through this. While I watch the economy and my business change, I start to panic and fear what this means for my career and how I can make it all work, but I’ve never been a quitter and I won’t start now. When I miss my family and friends and long for the days that we can all be together again in person, I will remind myself that they are safe and healthy and there are others that cannot say the same. When I worry about my husband at work and the risk he is at, I will remind myself that I’m grateful he is an essential employee and we still have a paycheck coming in. When I feel like I’m failing or losing my patience because I’ve been in this house with the kids since March 12th, I will remind myself that I am also “essential” and that I need to take care of me in order to take care of them. When I breakdown and feel like I can’t do one more day of this, I will remind myself I am human. I will also remind myself of all the living superheroes out there going to work each day at our hospitals, grocery stores, transportation, and first responders so that we can be safely at home. No, this is not easy but we just have to remind ourselves daily “We can do hard things.”
We will get through this.
Much Love to you all. <3