Last Friday we got snow. It wasn’t supposed to be much, but it ended up being around 10 inches. In the morning Demetri shoveled the driveway before he took Zoey to school which, by the way, was open. By noon, it looked like he hadn’t done anything. I gazed out into the winter wonderland and then I had a horrible thought: I can’t get the car out of the driveway by myself. My heart sank and my skin got that tight, tingly feeling that precedes panic. I took a breath and reminded myself that I really didn’t have to be anywhere. Demetri could pick up Zoey. I was trapped in my warm, comfortable house with a bag of Lindt balls. No reason to freak out.
And yet, I did.
I threw on my snow gear and went to dig out the car. I can do it. I thought. I have to do it. I cleaned off the car with a broom and scraper and was exhausted. I got the shovel and dug up a small scoop of snow. My shoulders burned and pain shot up my neck. The panic in me wound a little tighter. Must get out. I started to dig a trench behind each tire, hoping that would be enough to get me out of the driveway. Must get out. Must get out. My arms ached and my elbows throbbed. Finally, I was able the back the car into the street. By the time I got Zoey home from school, all I could do was lie on the living room floor. And later, drag myself into a warm bath.
Sometimes I go along feeling pretty normal. I feel like fibromyalgia isn’t that big of a deal. Look at me! I’m a regular parent! But then I do things like leave my house and talk to other parents. I can’t do what they do. I can’t pick up Zoey from school and then go grocery shopping. I can’t take Zoey to Family Science Day in the morning and then take her to Susie’s birthday party in the afternoon. I can’t shovel snow without serious pain.
There’s a lot of can’ts in our family: I can’t, Mommy can’t, my wife can’t. I often can’t do what other parents do. I can’t pick up Zoey from school and then go grocery shopping. I can’t take Zoey to Family Science Day in the morning and then take her to Susie’s birthday party in the afternoon. I don’t think this this makes me a bad parent. I’ve logged enough hours playing My Little Pony, Brother and Sister, and Uno to know I’m a good parent. Zoey invented special kisses just for me and still puts her little hand in mine. We’re doing okay. Our family is normal to us.
Last Friday, as I sat in the bath and played My little Pony on the edge of the tub with Zoey, I wondered how many parents get to do this. Probably not a lot. They can shovel snow and go to the grocery store after school. They can go to two events in one day. But maybe I can do something other parents can’t. I can slow down and do less. I have to. And I need to remember that it’s not always so bad.