Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Why, It was a Charlie Foxtrot


That alone says everything, right? 

Stu jokingly replied to my question of "Give me a descriptor words for 2020": Charlie Foxtrot. I raised my eyebrows rather quizzically, and asked him what it meant. He causally told me to google it. It was kind of funny coming from someone who always told me NOT to google anything, because of my anxious nature, and jumping to the worst conclusions. What is Charlie Foxtrot though, you asked. Well, well. You asked. It is rather bluntly put in to say a situation was a clusterfuck. 

That is 2020 boiled down to a chaotic mess. No doubt. Let me preface by sharing something real quick before I jump into this whole reflection thing over a glass of wine. Yes, we are privileged. Extremely so. We have been financially secure the whole time. We don't have to worry about making the ends meet, especially during the lockdown earlier this year. Despite some hiccups with our general health, we are thankfully well, and that is so important for me. Coronavirus has not taken away anyone we love, but we are not spared of a death in our family. 

We lost our matriarch of the family. Grandma Bernice left this world, and woke up in another world. I found myself missing her quite a lot, because she was my last living grandma (albeit through marriage). Grandma Bernice was the first one in Stuart's family that I felt wholly embraced by. She loved without conditions. She spoke to me just like she would with anyone else. Grandma Bernice never made me feel like I did not belong. It was just what a grandma should be. And I really missed that...even after all of these years of knowing her, and becoming comfortable with being one of the Russes. She was a beautiful soul. I selfishly wanted her around longer, but it was not the case. 

Coronavirus happened. It disrupted my routine. Many people knew me to be methodical, fastidious, and particular. I liked order. I liked predicitability. As you can see, Coronavirus was neither any of those. Again, we were very fortunate to be in a position where we were able to get by without worrying about loss of income to afford everyday expenses. I was already a stay at home mom. I did experience a bit of a loss, because I had hoped that Fiona and I were going to have a few hours by ourselves while the boys were at the schools. I had a vision of taking Fiona to library, a playdate with fellow friends, and gaining some of time back to myself to keep up around the house. I hoped to do some house projects. That did not happen. So yeah, I had some sense of loss in having to let go of my vision. House projects did not happen. I had no time in between raising our little ones, and teaching our older kids. Playdates and the trips to the library did not happen, because we were on a lockdown, and people were afraid. 

At the same time, our basement flooded...not once, but twice! Stu tiredlessly pumped water out of our basement for several nights in the row. We had to relocate our things from the basement to upstairs. After the second incident, we decided to have someone come and look at our basement to prevent more flooding. As it had turned out, we needed an entire sump pump system replaced. It was not JUST the machine itself that needed to be replaced, but the whole dang pipes, and the well. Horrible was the first thing that came to the mind. The company said the earliest they could do our basement was at the end of summer! Like what the... really! Let me tell you something; I HATED it, because our things were upstairs instead of in the basement. Our things were out of the order, and out of its place. We were already cramped in our living quarters, and it was already cluttered, because we were literally living in the same space 24/7. It was very much so of a stark parallel of what was happening on the outside world; it was cluttered, chaotic, and out of the order. 

It was not easy to try navigate through troubled waters with my older kids. They were more aware of what was happening, and felt very much so affected by the matter. An abrupt loss hurt them. It hurt me as a parent to witness that. To be frank, it sucked. This contributed some to why we decided to purchase a puppy. I assure you, it was not entirely an emotional purchase! We did have a goal. We wanted a therapy dog, and felt it was as might well be a good timing to get a dog. It was how we ended up with Otis! 

We felt guilty that our kids didn't have anything exciting to look forward over the summer. It led us to buy a trampoline for the kids. It turned out to be a GREAT investment. I realized that I was so busy focusing on the fact that we didn't take trips, and do fun events; I failed to see that we learned how to garden, our family grew closer, we got to know our neighbors, Franklin was more motivated to learn sign language, we found ways to stay connected with our extended families, and we learned how to slow down. Our summer may have been uneventful, but we gained a lot. 

The company finally came at the end of August to replace the sump pump system. I thought that it was end of that, and we were going to be able to reclaim the family room once again. How wrong! We had a difficult time finding a contractor to put up walls for us. We learned that we had to wait even longer, because there was not anyone coming until end of November to do our walls. Ugh. 

This whole time, my health was a stickler. I had a chronic stomach problems. It was just horrible. I went from trying to figure out what was triggering my stomach issues to thinking, okay I need to prepare myself how bad it was going to be today. One day it hit me that an answer was simple. It was nothing malicious going on in my body. It was my response to the stress. I was literally making myself sick from stress! How laughable. I didn't mean that in the way of self-mocking, but like omg, that was insane how one can make self so ill from something simple. I had to learn to take care of myself better, how to de-stress, and how to let things go, especially when it was not in my control. Easier said than done! My hair was falling out, and I was sick on toilet quite often. I was not sleeping very well. It hit me that I was internalizing a lot. 

I felt like I had to keep the family together. Stu was facing mammoth challenges in his job. My kids struggled emotionally with not being able to socialize with their classmates, from not being in school, and trying to understand the impact that CVID19 had on the world. We missed our extended families. The whole anti-mask culture stressed me out. Again, I understood that we were privileged to still live comfortably, and be able to afford everyday luxuries. I did not want to come across as if I was taking granted of everything. At the same time, all of us were struggling. Some more so. Some less so. Nonetheless, we struggled. 

Stu had a hiccup with his health, and thankfully, he recovered. Forrest managed his peanut allergy just fine, and we were offered to start a tree nut challenge. Forrest's allergist felt confident that we should proceed with the food challenge. I knew almonds were going to be just fine, but other nuts left me a bit nervous. I left it up to Forrest to decide when he wanted to start the food challenge. He had not approached me yet about this, and it was okay. Franklin and Fiona both remained to be in great health the whole time. Franklin worked hard learning how to read, and write. He went from knowing very little to being able to independently read Peter the Cat series! He also recently turned six! Fiona was receiving speech therapy in home, and had an explosion in development of both speaking and signing. 

Our Mr. Fantastic Fox had a rough go of it. He got diagnosed with epilepsy. It was something that we all needed to still process, and work through. The worst feeling about dealing with epilepsy was watching your kid going through a seizure, and not being able to do anything to stop it. All we were able to do was sit, watch, and wait. It was heartbreaking every time. Fox ended up going on an anti-seizure medication, and was being monitored while increasing his medication. In the meanwhile, he went through a battery of tests to figure out the cause of his seizures. At this time of writing, we had been waiting for his results. 

Coronavirus continue to elude us, and I thought we were able to count ourselves lucky until it rattled our family. My mom ended up being quite ill, and had to be hospitalized. I worried about her, and wished I was there with her. I did not want to think about a world without her.  It somberly reminded us how fragile life was, and not to take anyone for granted. I did not wish this upon anyone. I did notice that I grew angrier toward those who boycotted mask wear, did not believe in social distancing, and being responsible to curb the spread. I found those people to be reckless, and irresponsible. I had very little to no respect for them. I was just done. The pandemic fatigue was real. 

We celebrated Christmas just by ourselves. It was a strange experience not to be with our extended family, but we also enjoyed not having to go anywhere! It was actually nice to spend time by ourselves, and to take our celebrations in a stride. 

2020 may not have been our year, but it is a year to remind us what to hold dear. We are able to grow closer as a family, and to appreciate the simplicity. We are able to slow down, and focus on what is happening in the moment. We are able to look at each other, and realize how important we are to each other. Sometimes, we need to appreciate what we have instead of hurrying through everything. We are forced to slow down, and to regroup from the source, and the source is our family. 2020 may have been a charlie foxtrot, but it is a gift in the disguise.