I’m sitting in my bedroom, holding the baby close as I nurse her. The lights are off in an effort to keep quiet and calm. I breathe her in, soaking up this precious moment with my last baby.
I thought this year would be different. I hoped for more quiet moments to snuggle my girl. Moments of healing, bonding and silence.
Instead, as I sit with her in my arms, I hear the middle 2 boys up to no good in their room. I’ve put the 2-year-old in his crib, and I can hear the 4-year-old running around the bedroom. I needed a break, and I needed them to be safe, so they are in their room and I’m in mine.
They share a room, by choice, and I can tell they are scheming together about something. A plot to keep me on my toes, no doubt.
The mattresses in their room give in to the weight of the boys as they jump on their beds. They giggle.
I am exhausted. It’s not the typical exhaustion of a mother. It’s not that new baby exhaustion. It’s different.
I know I am not alone in pivoting and navigating the online/virtual learning schedule. The big kids should be in class, with their peer groups, making friends. Instead, we navigate learning in silos from each other. I’m lucky. I have family helping me with Robert’s online learning, in a collaborative effort to ensure he doesn’t fall far behind his peers. Ensuring that the gap between him and his classmates doesn’t leave him at a bigger disadvantage.
And while muddling through all of this is trying, especially with a newborn and a toddler underfoot, my exhaustion runs deeper.
But this exhaustion is different. It’s not just the virutal learning exhaustion.
Reading headlines, seeing people posting about how Omicron isn’t anything to worry about. Only people with other conditions need to worry. You know, old people and people with disabilities.
Everyone is overreacting. Everyone will be fine. Except those who won’t but don’t worry, their lives are expendable. They had other conditions. They were old. They were disabled.
That message just keeps playing in all circles. On the news. On social media. You can’t escape it.
And the thought of my son – with a disability – being considered as disposable in our society is so difficult to read. It’s as though people don’t remember that people with disabilties and who are older are still PEOPLE.
The fight continues. The fight to remind people that my son is smart, intelligent, kind, funny, and WORTHY. And that’s exhausting.
I’m exhausted by it.
I hope one day I become old. I think we all do.
And we could, at any instant, become disabled.
I pull myself together. I soak in the smell of a three-and-a-half month old baby.
I’m exhausted, but I’m still a mom.
My kids don’t see the headlines, and I seek to be the mom they need. Guiding them in the world, teaching them to do laundry and to pick up after themselves.
As the baby finishes nursing, I take a deep breath. I breathe her innocence in. The sweet smell of a new baby.
I listen to the boys giggling in the next room.
The kids don’t know the headlines, and after a minute to myself I yearn for their energy and joy. Time to go outside and see the world through their eyes.
We are worthy. My kids. My family. No matter their ages or disabilities.
We are worthy.