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Two Years into the Pandemic…and I’m Still Struggling

Apollo carrying my camera bag during a photo session.

On nearly a daily basis I ask myself how it is I was able to write, almost daily, with ten and then thirteen, and eventually fourteen kids, but now, with only six at home, can’t seem to write at all. Obviously, with no diapers or babies, or toddlers I technically have more time to write. But it isn’t about the time counted in minutes and hours and days. Somehow, since the pandemic began, I haven’t had the mental time or space I need to write.

Hello 2020 and Endless Lockdowns

Park closed during the covid-19 pandemic in 2020

It started, as it did for us all, with school being canceled for two weeks, then six weeks, and then the rest of the school year. It wasn’t having my kids home all day that was the issue, it was the inability to visit a library, or museum, or even park (our governor forbid even that in 2020). Suddenly our days lost their rhythm and with no ability to meet up with friends or go out in our community I began to feel mentally smothered. There was no more photographing births due to hospital policies and for a long while, even photo sessions done outdoors were forbidden due to stay-at-home orders.

Suddenly my creative outlets had to shift.

Chuck was deemed an essential worker and didn’t miss a single day of work due to the pandemic. A financial blessing, obviously, but this meant I didn’t have those long, Bake Sourdough Buy Plants Start a New Hobby days to fill. I just had more work and nowhere to go.

So What Have You Been Doing?

LEGO organization by color.

I opened a Teachers Pay Teachers store and an Etsy store.

I sell curriculum and activities on Teachers Pay Teachers, but my Etsy store is mostly filled with LEGO for sale…color sorted, by the piece or pound, mini-figures, and custom sets. It is a fun outlet for me. I find sorting and organizing LEGO bricks calming and cathartic, so making a few bucks off of it is just a bonus.

Teen with hoodie with skateboards.

Supported Living

In late September our son with autism (age 19) moved into a Supported Living apartment. He has a housemate in his early twenties and they share 24-hour a day staff. The move came, as these things do, at an incredibly inconvenient time. Just days after I returned from Las Vegas and the day before Apollo had his most recent surgery. I planned to wait a bit and then post an amazing success story, but the reality has been less than perfect. We have been having issues (which I won’t delve into here) with the move and it has been difficult. These experiences get put in a when I write a book many years from now folder.

Don’t worry, our son is fine and happy, and his apartment is only 15 minutes away from us. He spends every Saturday with us and attends all of our family events. At age19, he is happy to live in an apartment with more freedom than he has here with his parents and their stupid rules. He is still enrolled in school (and will be until age 21) but doesn’t actually attend. Instead, he receives his education at a local autism center twice a week…when the staff at his apartment can manage to get him there (not the fault of the staff, but attendance has been an issue with him for years).

We also became his legal guardians which is an incredibly complicated and involved process the includes lawyers, a guardian ad litum, and court dates.

Photography as a Creative Outlet

Photograph is still a creative outlet for me, though things have shifted there as well.

Rainbow Carrots

Sometimes I buy produce so I can bring it home and photograph it. And then those photos lie dormant on my computer for months.

I still volunteer as a photographer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and Soulumination. 2020 and 2021 were surprisingly busy for me with both organizations.

Judah and Celeste. Engagement photos in Fairhaven.

While birth photography is still on hold, I have kept busy with family sessions, newborn sessions, proposals, and engagements. My own children are providing plenty in that area for me these days.

I miss writing.

I miss sharing my photography.

I think we all miss things from the time before.

In an attempt to regain my mental space, I am switching to focusing my computer work on the weekends, when Chuck is home, so I can (maybe) have some uninterrupted time to work.

Here’s to a new start in 2020.

6 Comments

  1. Nicole S

    I miss your writing too. Here from the early 13 years ago days. I’m ten years behind you in our journey with our son with FAS and mood disorders. I would love updates, but understand respecting his privacy. Although not perfect, it’s nice to see him moving into the next phase. Thanks for your blog.

    • Renee

      Nicole, feel free to send me an email with your questions (littleearthling@yahoo.com). I don’t mind sharing with people, I just choose not to share publicly, such as on my website.

  2. by Michele Pleasants

    Miss your updates, but still hanging around after all these years and cheering you on! You are so talented, Renee, and have blessed so many over the years! Thank you for sharing so much of your life.

  3. Rosie

    The feelings are the same here – how is it with two young needy, special needs kids in the house I was able to keep on top of things, start of blog, etc. Now with two adolescent kids, with bigger needs, i can’t seem to get a fifth done. I stopped blogging 1.5 years ago, had to drop other things I enjoyed…. search for out of home help for one child. I thought have older kids was supposed to be easier.

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