I have had a very lucky week. Last Sunday I won a family dinner to a gorgeous new restaurant in Carrick and then today I won this beautiful bouquet.
I have been getting creative with the answers I write in response to the competitions I enter. I have decided to use my writing skills to try and win a few bits and pieces, my smart mouth has been getting me into trouble for years, maybe now it can be useful and I can write some luck into our life.
I met my neighbour on the lane today and we were chatting about life in lockdown. We both agreed that we really were lucky to have been living in Lovely Leitrim throughout it all, as not only have we had an extremely low infection rate, we are also surrounded by a lot of beautiful landscape, often within the 2.5km lockdown radius we originally faced.
I don’t for a second want to take away from the enormous and devasating loss of life and life changing injury experienced by many. As much as many of us have seen the merit in the pause and reset buttons of life, we can never be flippant and forget that the off button has been pressed for many and their loss will be mourned for a lifetime.
I’ve tried to avoid the news as much as possible, but I have often seen images of people experiencing lockdown in very cramped spaces, many of them have made their own fun and some of the resulting you tube videos have been very amusing, but their reality has been very hard.
We have all commented on how mother nature had the decency to send us dry and sometimes sun soaked days so we could get outside if the option was available – luckily for us we had that option and I spent my no longer needed summer camp budget on outdoor equipment.
We’ve had the swingball, badminton and tennis sets, paddling pool, a new jumbo sized trampoline (justified to my husband when the delivery van arrived, by the fact Patrick ‘needs’ it to manage his vestibular input – no Mick had no idea what that means either, there are definitely times when me being the designated ‘ASD expert’ of the family works in my favour!).
Groupon’s giant connect four and drafts, although I think ‘giant’ is pushing it, I think ‘slightly above average size connect four’ would be more accurate – hey that’s advertising for you.
Then came the inflatable kayak and the slip and slide, that slipped and slid all over the garden on the first use and is now screwed up in a ball at the top of the slide – where no doubt it will stay for another month before I throw it out in a fit of de-clutter desperation, muttering under my breath about ‘”who’s stupid idea was it to buy this crap in the first place and ungrateful children blah blah blah!
So yes, I feel exceptionally lucky that we live in such a spacious part of the world and that we have been lucky enough to get outside and actually enjoy a lot of what lockdown has offered the world in terms of slowing down and being grateful on every level.
My neighbour also asked me how things were going at home for Patrick my Autistic son. That’s when I felt luckiest of all to say that things are going really well for Patrick. Really well.
I won’t lie, the first six weeks of lockdown were absolute hell on earth for him. He was so confused by what was going on, his anxiety was uncontrollable for him and us. He suffered a lot and it was heartbreaking and exhausting to experience as a parent, as his carer.
Being powerless to help your child, to feel that lack of control over the situation you are in is very destructive to your wellbeing. The guilt you feel for not finding it easy and for wishing it all would just stop not just for your child but also for yourself, for feeling selfish when apparently you should just take this in your stride as a parent, that guilt is crushing and lots of people amazingly, are quite happy to point out to you – it’s your job as a parent, toughen up.
There were many times I sobbed to my husband through lockdown that “it’s not meant to be this hard”, feeling like I was failing my children. But I wasn’t and if you experience this, you are not failing either. It isn’t meant to be this hard, but sometimes it just is, and we face it.
What lockdown did bring us was time, time to sit with Patrick and try to work through his anxiety. To get to the absolute root of what was causing it, so we could have a route to deal with it. I am thankful for that, and I feel lucky that we had the time to do that.
I feel lucky that we both have really decent, understanding employers who recognised how working from home with a child with complex needs is exceptionally hard, they have made the appropriate allowances, concessions and adjustments as we needed them.
I feel lucky that we had a team of Gardai (police officers) who saw a need in a member of their community and supported it in a way that brought joy, comfort, and self worth to a little boy who often doesn’t feel those things.
I feel lucky to have a respite carer who quarantined and self isolated so she could support us all in our darkest hour, when our potential choices were unbearable. Making sure that she could safely deal with our emotional wellbeing without impacting anyone’s physical wellbeing.
So yes, I feel very lucky to live where I do – because I am part of an exceptional community of people who truly were ‘in this together’.
I also feel lucky that we got through this. That even though often I felt like giving up in early lockdown, and there were days where I simply took to my bed and could not move, that we did come out the other side. I feel truly lucky that I have a husband who always steps up when I just can’t.
I feel that we actually are stronger as a family result of this, when at times I felt like we crumbling. Lucky that my exceptional little boy, who goes through hell dealing with a world that is not set up for him to cope easily, always comes out the other side. What I feel luckiest about in lockdown is that I have been able to see that, to truly see Patrick and how exceptional he is.
I feel lucky that the time we have been able to spend working through Patrick’s anxiety, has given us a much deeper understanding of how it feels for him and how to support him and work with him to support himself.
I feel lucky that during this lockdown we have had more good days that tough ones, that I feel I have truly reconnected with Patrick as we have established a new routine at home. A low demand routine, which is what he needs.
I am not unrealistic, I know that as the world resumes it’s normality, as different as that may look to many, it still won’t be different enough to be managable to many Autistic people and their transition back to the world will bring it’s own challenges for them and their carers.
But I am lucky now that I better understand what we can do differently for my son, I am lucky that I have this knowledge to move forward with and I’m lucky that I am surrounded by people who are truly in this together with us.
So, will I now keep that smart mouth for entering competitions – HELL NO. Because not everyone has been as lucky as we have through lockdown, and I believe in pay-it-forward. I believe the best thing lockdown has taught is, is the power and strength of community – that’s a luck we all need to write into our story.