And so it begins.
We have started school after months of shielding and staying home.
Tonight my little boys’ seizure leaves him breathing heavy. I check his oxygen levels, it’s all over the place. That not unusual for him whilst he is pre or post-seizure but it’s still worrying as hell.
I’m a single parent, and whist school means I can return to work (I have no choice if I wish to keep our home), it does not mean life gets any easier. It means endless stress-filled nights wondering if tonight is the night when everything unravels.
Will tonight be the night I have to choose between my children—accompanying one to the hospital whilst I leave the other behind?
What if the other one gets ill?
Will tonight be the night I never forget or never forgive myself for?
What if trying to give us a life—by going back to work and holding on to what we have—takes away a life?
If you had asked me to bet money on whether my son would like going back to school, I would have confidently bet my entire months wage. Prior, he had screamed whenever I left him at nursery—it was always a trauma for us both. His preference is to be with mummy; most likely due to all the times his mom and twin sister have been whisked off in an ambulance, leaving him behind.
Yet, this month he skipped off to school happily!
He wanted to go back as soon as he could the next day—the next day being Saturday. His twin sister however, before lockdown, so confident and sometimes choosing to go to nursery on her own whilst Jim stayed with me, is not so sure….. Perhaps she has realised her health has been much better at home, more likely, she is smart enough to have listened to all the conversations I have had with her consultant, and realises there is a risk….whatever the reason, Rosie, is not so sure. She needed to come out and play with me on her own for a little, she wants to return and stay for lunch, but not unless im within site!
As for me? Well im anxious, very anxious, I don’t want to stop them and put them off, but at the same time, Im an anxious as hell, about what if we catch Covid. No mere cold for us, not even as simple as dad stays with one and I go to hospital, but a full blown traumatic event if one of us gets hospitalised, that will blow any confidence gains away, as one child will be with another family all together, and what if that child then gets ill and needs to be hospitalised or dies…..
I sound dramatic, but that is a very real reality for us, the chances of either of them becoming critically ill with covid are very high, along with the chance it will leave irreversible damage. School to me feels like a gamble, one that if we lose is unthinkable, but one we have to take, because if we don’t its my job and livelihood on the line, which by default means our home and transport and everything else. Losing is unthinkable, winning just keeps the status as it is! Not the sort of gamble anyone would take willingly!! If you win you just don’t lose, but if you lose….. you could lose everything!
I know there are families out there, so happy to be back at school, and I can see why! Happy children, so joyful to play together again, parents with time to work, or I cant even imagine the free time if you don’t need to work every hour they are there! But, I also know there are many more like me. Worried as all Hell, that a loved one will die if this goes wrong, unable to sleep for nightmares, torn in half between what choice to make and which way to go. With each joyful laugh and request to play with friends, comes the other side , the fear , knowing that those friends have been going to all the places you have been avoiding, because the risk to them is so low, so life is back to normal. Whilst we stand at the windows of the world still, watching carry on without us, but at the same time forced to take the risks we have to, to feed and clothe and keep us safe in a house, whilst knowing that choice, might be the one that leaves you least safe of all……
In some ways it would have been easier if we had rocked up to the school gate, cried and refused to go in, if school had sent me away, as the children would have reacted very different then! I could easily have said no, we are staying home whatever it takes!! But the relief of them enjoying themselves is short lived, as now it gives way to the horrid torn in half, feeling that im letting them dance to their deaths, but also not wanting to take away this new found growth and joy. I feel all I can do is leave it in the hands of fate and hope and pray it works out ok but then beat myself up because I know I could be far more proactive and just pull them out, and find a way to make a living somehow from home….with two small children! Hire a nanny and keep them closeted at home, seems mean and unfair when they were so full of joy at school…… So for now, I breath into my discomfort and fear, I save the tears for when they are in the bath or fast asleep, I tolerate the waking in the night from nightmares and I wait and see how things progress, Maybe the balance will last , maybe the scales will tip one way and the novelty will wear off or no one will want to stay when I have to leave… maybe the rate of infection will get so high and my fear so big, I pull them out, maybe they will get a covid case at school… but for now the scales are precariously balanced so I could easily tip either way. So we follow their joy and I hold all the rest whilst we wait and see.