Ever since Nate arrived, it seems that the first five or six months of each year are much easier than the end. Something shifts around June or July and personal duties, work obligations, and life surprises tend to snowball at a rapid speed. 2012 was no different for us. The first half of the year was under control: I had a good rhythm with my clients, Nate had a great rhythm with his Birth to Three team, and Chad was happily chugging along with work. But June marked the beginning of the changes. Nate started public school, I started juggling my work schedule against Nate’s school and vacation schedule (and whenever Nate was out sick), and Chad started graduate school at Yale in addition to working full time. Then Chad’s mom became ill (she’s recovering nicely now!). Then our dear Archibald was diagnosed with advanced cancer and went to play in the big fired in the sky. Then we started potty training (it didn’t take). And then Superstorm Sandy hit and that was kind of the last straw. Being without power for more than a week and Nate being without school for nearly two weeks nearly did all of us in. Once it was 55 degrees in our house, we were lucky enough to find hotels with one-night availability and ping-ponged between rooms, even joining Chad at Yale for a night. But it made me get very behind in every aspect of my life except for caring for Nate. The restoration of power was quickly followed by a nor’easter, then Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then suddenly 2013 was upon us. And now? Life is good.
We have a dear friend who is a nursing student in her final year of undergraduate studies and she’s home for the winter break. Gwenyth’s been watching Tater during his winter break and coming over after school this week so I can get stuff done. By “stuff” I mean a) working and b) dealing with the gigantic backlog of Things That Need Tending To. With Gwen’s help, I was able to get myself really organized for work over Nate’s break. Yesterday, she was here for three hours so I started hacking away at the mountain of stuff that has been chucked in our attic. I made piles of things to take to Goodwill, share with baby Emma (who’s not such a baby anymore!), and discovering things that I’ve been seeking for, oh, the past six months or so. (I found my double-sided tape!!!) Today, I managed to do a Goodwill run, buy a few groceries, purchase a sandwich for lunch, and (gasp!) eat the sandwich! I feel like I’m on vacation.
The past six months have taught us where our limits are. (The threshold is pretty much a natural disaster immediately followed by a nor’easter.) We’ve figured out how to navigate Chad being away every other Friday and Saturday for school (and discovered it’s not that bad), have become great friends with all of Nate’s therapists at school, feel comfortable working within the public school’s special education system (for the moment, at least, which is no small feat seeing as we had a special Birth to Three therapist just for me and Chad to figure it all out), and are setting aside times on the full weekends when Chad is home for a special family outing, whether it’s the zoo or a kids’ museum or the park. There are many ungraceful moments, of course–it’s still incredibly clunky when Nate is sick and one of us has to forgo work in order to be with Nate–but we’ve never failed. At the end of every day, we have a roof over our head, the bills are paid, our family loves each other, and no one was left behind.
I have never been one for successful New Year’s resolutions. They’re always too narrow for me. Last year, I saw a blog post about the three-word resolution: pick three words that will guide you throughout the new year. So, for 2012, I quietly chose two (because I couldn’t think of a third): grace and gratitude. I wanted to get through the year with as much grace as I could muster and remember to be thankful for all that we have and all that we are given. And it worked. If I got off course, it was much easier to think “be graceful” instead of “Shoot. I never read War and Peace.” This year, I have the same resolute words: grace and gratitude. I might need a reminder every now and again but they’re good guiding posts for my mind. I might even dare to throw in the word “balance,” though that is one that may be less successful than the others.
However, to seek balance, I have a plan. Mondays are my “reset” days. I take Nate to private OT & PT in the morning (1.75 hours), bring him home for lunch, and take him to a half-day of school from 12-3. I’ll use that time to organize the piles, put away the laundry, quiet the nagging list of Things To Do, and maybe even sit down and eat lunch while watching a trashy show on the DVR. I’ll work Tuesdays through Thursdays while Nate is in school and, I hope, on Fridays, while Nate’s at school, to use it to catch up again. I’ll get any work lists in order, I’ll do filing and organizing, and hopefully I’ll get to work on this blog. (Of course this nicely laid out schedule will ebb and flow but, still, it’s a lovely thought.) There’s a lot to share here and I miss the dialogue. We started this blog to keep our loved ones informed about Nate’s diagnosis and his adventures in therapy and, through our stories, we’ve created a following of people who we don’t know. Some of you have loved ones on the spectrum and some of you are proud to say that Nate is the first autistic person you’ve come in contact with. And when I haven’t been able to blog, the conversation continues on Nate’s Facebook page. It’s awesome all the way around.
So here’s to 2013 – at least the first half of it, which, if history is any indicator, will be smooth. And may the last six months of this year continue to sail steady.