I never thought in a million years that this January post would be quite like this one. What an incredibly tough, emotional and surreal month this has been for our family. Part of me wishes there was a reset button but I do know that life experiences make us stronger and right now we just have to ride this rollercoaster. No matter how sad, frustrated and angry it makes us.
For those of you who maybe haven’t seen, my Mum was diagnosed with COVID officially on the 12th January but was very ill for about a week before that. This has hit us all tremendously. It has already been life-changing and we are sadly still very early days in this. One thing that I am certain of, is that I could not have got through the past few weeks without my terrible trio. Their light brings me joy and hope, it’ll bring my Mum that strength too because I know she wouldn’t want to leave them behind without a fight.
Oh and not only are we going through grief, but we have also had to take on another lockdown in the UK and school closures. We’ve been remote learning for the entirety of January with no end in sight. So that’s certainly put a spanner in a happy New Year we all hoped for!
I am sure you are all well aware that my 12-year-old daughter, Freya, is diagnosed with autism. Heading into another lockdown was a little worrying for me as change is something that we struggle with and can affect her behaviour drastically. However, I think that having the Christmas holidays ahead of our remote learning meant that she was already in the routine of being at home,
It’s been so impressive to see how Freya has adapted to remote learning. Now that she is in secondary school the work is much harder and the expectations are higher too. At first, she was able to work at her own pace with the work uploaded to the system the school is using but more recently they’ve started adding more live lessons and so she has to set out her day a bit more like a school day. This gives her routine but also means we are hardly seeing her during the day! I’m just so proud of how much effort she’s putting into her school work and causing no fuss about it.
We decided to tell all the girls about the severity of my Mum’s illness when she was actually admitted to the hospital. I certainly didn’t expect Freya to show any emotion when we told her, she doesn’t have much empathy and she definitely didn’t seem upset until a few hours later. I went in to remind her that it’s absolutely ok to not be ok at which point she burst into tears and spent the rest of the day feeling quite sad. It was reassuring to see that she was understanding but so upsetting too. Freya and my Mum have a close bond.
Freya spends a lot of the day shut away and sticking to her own routine in her bedroom makes it tough to return to normal life. Weekends are definitely where her behaviour becomes a bit erratic as she adjusts back into family life. The other two most definitely miss their big sister and find it hard to understand Freya’s emotions sometimes – we all do! Ultimately, weekends can be really hard for our family life.
My exhausting excitable Eva. The first lockdown was incredibly tough on her mental well-being, the idea of heading into another lockdown was absolutely terrifying. It has been exactly how I expected it to be with Eva for the second school closure. She has found it tough and we have shared many tears of frustration.
This middle girly of mine thrives off of the school life atmosphere and I am so worried for her. She always strives to please everyone so when she struggles with a piece of work, it’s genuinely like the end of the world for her. It breaks my heart but thankfully her teacher is a wonderful person and has been supportive via video call through all of this.
It has certainly been a truly emotional month for Eva. Her exterior is super tough but her inside is extremely sensitive. When we explained the situation with my Mum, she didn’t show much emotion to start with but the following few days were tough! She was hit by this wave of sadness, she kept repeating how scared she felt that Nanny would die and that she just wanted to see her. I was fragile myself so we sort of sat there crying in each other’s arms.
Eva has so much energy and desperately needs to run off some of it during a walk, but we’ve been a little worried about venturing out after seeing how deadly this virus is. Instead, I’ve had to let my guards down and allow ‘floor is lava’ in my living room and let her jump from sofa to sofa just to wear off some of that pent up energy. The summer, warmer weather needs to hurry up and get here soon!
Firstly, I read back on the last months’ update and wanted to say that there has been no further news on Elsa’s growth hormone things. We are a little in limbo but I hope that we’ll get a letter or a phone call soon to find out the next steps for her treatment.
Elsa has had a pretty good month and seems to have adjusted relatively well to remote learning. I keep comparing this school closure to the original one last year, and if I do that, then Elsa is doing so much better. The fact we have done four weeks and she is still participating in the school work set is a huge win for us! During the first lockdown, she refused to even pick up a pencil half of the time!
Being at home is Elsa’s comfort zone, she enjoys it and never feels the need to be out. I think she’s just basking in the joy of not having any social situations to navigate, she just has her family and so she’s been a funny little character, really coming out of her shell. There have been many moments, just when remote learning finishes, that Elsa takes herself up to snuggle in her bed and I like to go and join her for some cuddles. It’s a really lovely moment of the day and has been needed! We just talk and she says the funniest things.
I am still struggling to get Elsa to try new foods. To the point I’ve kind of given up on introducing anything new right now, I’d much rather her eat something she enjoys so that we can avoid any meltdowns. This means I am making usually two, sometimes three different meals at bedtime. This always takes me back to when my Mum bought a double oven because I was a fussy eater too. My fussiness is certainly a bit different to Elsa’s though.
January has been another month that has allowed the girls to be in each others company twenty-four hours seven days a week. I certainly know that I am at the point where I need a bit of a breather, so goodness only knows how they’ve managed to not kill each other yet.
I wouldn’t say they’ve spent much time as a trio. Freya’s spending most of the day remote learning in her bedroom and the other two spend individual time learning with me, so, rarely, they are all together. They do get snippets of time in the morning to play on their iPad and they watch a film in the afternoons after school.
One thing that seems to be happening over this lockdown is that Freya joins her younger sisters for what they are calling a sleepover. Eva and Elsa have a sofa in their room, Freya lays over some blankets, brings her pillows and teddies, and sleeps there every Friday and Saturday night. It’s quite sweet and is a lovely little tradition that they do together.
I thought it would be interesting to know how the girls have felt over this past month. So I asked them “What’s the bad part of January and remote learning?” and also “what’s your favourite part?” This was their answers:
Freya: The bad thing is that Nanny is in hospital and we haven’t been able to speak to her. The good thing is that I have started drawing ducks and designing them.
Eva: I don’t like home learning and I miss Nanny. But I love being able to play with my sisters and do shows for Mummy and Daddy
Elsa – Nothing is bad and I like being at home.
It’s interesting to hear their views of this past month. We’ve certainly started this new year in a completely new way to what I had hoped, but I’m determined to make this a brilliant year despite the uncertainties.
Check out our previous Siblings Project posts here!