don’t wake the campers

We are on vacation this week at a campground about an hour from home, avoiding insects and raindrops, burning marshmallows, and trying to relax. Relaxation is not easy for three people with anxiety issues, but we’ll do our best.

This annual campout started out years ago as a fun thing to do with my wife’s daycare families. After she quit doing daycare, it became more of an extended friends and family event. More people have stopped coming, and this year even my wife’s parents stayed home. So it is just the three of us in a large, private group campsite, with lots of equipment, lots of food, and much less activity than in the past.

We may get a few visitors during the week, but it’s a lot less fun without more people. We could have expended much less effort by buying a fire ring and sitting at home to make smores, while getting to sleep in our own bed.

have yourself a merry covid christmas

My wife still has symptoms, but is feeling a little better than earlier in the week. She has the bedroom, bathroom, and the craft room to herself, but the rest of the house is off limits. Today is Day 6 of her isolation, and she is going stir crazy. She has a hard time sitting still and not working on something (just like her dad). The strategy is working though; neither Nicole or I seem to be getting sick. I suppose I could be asymptomatic and not know it, but I don’t think so. Either way, we are both getting tested, but we couldn’t get tests until Tuesday the 28th (which would be day 10 of isolation for Annie).

Since Uncle Covid came for Christmas, we obviously had to cancel dinner with our son and Annie’s parents. I’m still going to make dinner for the three of us, with a turkey and only a couple of sides. We are planning a video call with Dan, and maybe the in-laws (if they can figure it out). I don’t know if we are doing presents tomorrow or waiting. Annie is going to sanitize and wrap presents, so maybe Nicole will get her presents on time. I don’t really care, I’ve kinda lost the spirit of the whole thing. I just want Annie to rejoin us.

We are very aware that our current situation is fortunate in comparison to those who are in the hospital either fighting the illness or dying from it. There are people losing loved ones today, and tomorrow, and every other day. There are exhausted and shell-shocked health care workers who keep coming to work because they’ve dedicated themselves to helping sick people. I admit that as inconvenient as this week has been, it could be so much worse.

I hope your Christmases are safe, warm, and well-medicated.

not so bad

During our Thanksgiving dinner, my adult children spontaneously took turns thanking my wife and I for the job we did raising them. I was grateful for this, especially coming from my son, who keeps his feelings closely guarded.

At the moment I was a little bit stunned, and I didn’t know what to say. I can’t take compliments, so of course I responded with something self-deprecating. I told them I appreciated them acknowledging our efforts, but that I was sorry for not being mentally present most of the time due to my bipolar. My son said that I kept it hidden well, because he would not have known I felt that way without me saying so. Then it became a little awkward (“Awkward Moments” is my middle name), and the conversation took a different turn.

Thinking about it later, I take comfort in knowing that despite my flaws, and in the face of my fears of being a bad parent, they thought I was pretty good. It took a long time to have that conversation, but it helps me reconcile years of self-flagellation about my ability as a parent. Since 2004 I have blogged thousands of since-deleted words about how terrible I was and how I blamed myself for irreparably harming my kids. Expressing those thoughts did nothing to help me and in fact made me feel worse about myself.

After hearing their thoughts, I feel much better about myself. I’m still flawed, but maybe I’m not such a bad person after all.