In an effort to ignore politics and all of the distress that goes along with the current situation in our country, we immersed ourselves in the holidays this week, starting with Halloween.

We knew we wouldn’t be Trick-or-Treating, so we tried to have as much fun at home as possible. I dressed up as a piñata to surprise the kids and make them laugh, then we dug out their costumes and they played all day in them.

After lunch, we started painting pumpkins.

Painting is our happy place these days, so this was a lot of fun. We put a couple pumpkins out on the porch, but Tyler and Arialle wanted theirs in their rooms for decoration.

We read some Halloween stories and watched a family movie, then got ready for our at-home Trick-or-Treating. My husband, teenager and I all took different rooms of the house and the kids came around to each room to get candy. It was definitely low-key and much different than any other Halloween before, but we’re doing our best given the circumstances.

It has been another exhausting and distressing week, as we still don’t know who won Tuesday’s election and it’s Friday. Everyone in the country is at each others’ throats. On top of that, there have been multiple coworkers at both of my husband’s jobs who have been testing positive for Covid-19 the last several days. One of them has been closed for a week now because so many staff members have it, they don’t have enough people to work. Of course it’s hard to focus with all of the chaos and worry, but I’m doing my best every day.

Right now, a big struggle is knowing what a healthy level of avoidance or immersion is. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand and not be aware of what is going on in the community, country and the world, but staying up to date on everything and conducting my own research to form my own educated opinions is time-consuming. Is it obsessive to try to be informed? I’m getting some criticism for my behavior, so I’m legitimately wondering. Where is the line between being informed so that I can participate in discussions intelligently and over-seeking information?

Someone who read my blog last week helpfully suggested that if I’d “post positive stuff (I’ll) get more likes,” (insert eye roll). I’d really like to respond to him with snark because that is dismissive and hurtful, but I’ll refrain. Instead, hopefully this could be an opportunity for others like him to have more understanding and compassion.

I’m not writing this for likes, or for people like him. I don’t expect many people even read this beyond people who already know me, and the ones I’m writing to are those who are struggling like I am, or those who would like to understand another perspective.

If you aren’t struggling, that’s great for you, but please keep your toxic positivity away from those of us who are genuinely trying to work through all of the negative bullsh*t we are experiencing. I’m going to be real, and real isn’t always sunshine and daisies when you’re a bipolar Autistic with ADHD who is trying to homeschool four kids who have been isolated for 8 months through a global pandemic during one of the most explosive periods in our country’s recent history. Don’t read me if you don’t like what I write; it’s simple.

Telling people who are struggling to look on the bright side, to focus on the positive, etc, negates the difficult feelings they are telling you about and trying to overcome. Many of us battling depression and anxiety are aware of all of the good things in our life, and are incredibly grateful for them because they help bring us balance. Focusing on the positive and ignoring the stressors is not an effective strategy, at least for me. It always catches up to me. You can’t run away from your problems.

Since counting seems to be the theme of the week, it fit in well with our schoolwork. All of the kids are actually asking for math work these days, so that was mostly what we worked on this week as far as academics go.

Willow was particularly distressed because she really wanted the answer to one of her questions to be the number nine. When we told her the answer was actually three (which she knew, because she can count), she had a meltdown. It made absolutely no sense to me, because she KNEW the right answer was three! She was just very emotionally invested in the answer being nine for some reason, I guess.

Luckily, one of the very last problems she did had an answer of the number nine, which made everything better.

Like I said earlier, painting is our happy place these days. Willow and Tyler did another painting project to help decorate the house, and to experiment with color mixing.

One of their assignments this week was to listen to music and create a dance to perform. They are still practicing, but they’re doing a great job! Connor can memorize lyrics and dance moves impressively fast; I don’t know how he does it. He’s still extremely shy, so we’ll have to work on getting him more comfortable with performing if he actually wants to pursue anything like that in the future.

He loves being in plays, and he wants to be a drummer. I think his speed, memory, focus and his proclivity for making percussive beats on any surface he can find all day long may actually serve him well if he wants to learn to drum or play an instrument. I just don’t know how we’d get him started with lessons in the middle of Covid.

Willow and Tyler enjoy art a lot more than Connor does, so he sat the drawing exercise out this week. Their older sister actually shared this challenge from her high school art class with her siblings. The goal was for them to draw in a continuous line, making an illustration without picking up their pencils until the very end.

To end the week in higher spirits than we started, my husband brought the Christmas tree upstairs and went to the store to get holiday punch ingredients. We played classic Christmas music while the kids made the punch and set up the tree.

Yeah, we may be starting Christmas a little early, but I don’t care. There’s something about the lights, the atmosphere, the music, and the excitement the kids feel when everything is decorated that is comforting and homey. It reminds me of my childhood Christmases, when my mom was still here and everything was joyful and cozy and full of love.

I’ve missed her so much through all of this, and wish every day that I could talk to her and ask her for advice, or even just cry to her. The world feels very lonely without my mom in it, and it’s worse with all of the divisiveness and isolation that comes with our current political climate and trying to keep Covid as far away from our family as possible, for as long as possible. I thought it was hard going through my baby’s open heart surgery without my mom, and then each subsequent surgery and hospitalization and diagnosis that followed. Each tragedy feels more tragic without her to comfort me through it.

Once the tree was up and lit, Willow and Tyler decided to become pilots, using the tree box as their plane. It’s so interesting to see what their little minds come up with sometimes.

We usually leave our Christmas tree up longer than most families do. Depending on how things go, we may just leave everything up until next Christmas, who knows? Whatever makes everyone happiest. It’s not easy to help kids navigate the big feelings they are having through all of this, so anything to help improve our overall mental health is a win.

Don’t worry, we won’t skip Thanksgiving.

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