What a day. Yesterday.
We had it to ourselves. The morning therapist calling in sick. I had planned to use therapy time to get a lot of house sorting, house cleaning accomplished. Then, no therapist and a small flood in the basement and there was little sorting or cleaning accomplished. And no matter.
We had snow to shovel -- a small bit, but Julia put on snow pants and her heaviest mittens to come out and help. She worked the entire time that I was outside and then rather cheerfully walked the dog with me. Julia still wants plenty of time to herself to draw and color but she is less unwilling to be with me for chores and less unwilling to be outside. This is an engagement that I have not experienced with her before.
Perhaps these months, since the beginning of October when I first started taking away any and all independence from her to try to control the scratching/picking, have paid a small dividend. I give her very little alone time at home -- not even in the bathroom, not even to fall asleep. I probably had given her way too much alone time since David died, needing my own alone time, and not being as emotionally available to her lest she take the full brunt of my grieving. Since October, I have done the complete turn about. Could it be that she needed that full mother care -- the bathing, the close inspection of her body and caring for every inch of it, the taking over of her physical life in the way that a mother is in charge of an infant. Because Julia came to me at 5, I gave her a measure of respect, a distance. Certainly, not a great distance, but I did not know every inch of her body as I would have had she been an infant. Now, I do. She is taking back some of her autonomy and wants to take back more, but I think she may also be used to my mothering, my responsibility for her every move. She tolerates my invasion of her world better than ever before.
And so, we shoveled, went back inside for sorting and cleaning and doing a bit of math.
We had errands for the early afternoon, that left me singing! Those ended at Panera for a late lunch before our winter solstice service at church. I took on the full joy of being a Unitarian. Winter Solstice! Lighting candles to resolve to heal our broken world and to invite the light back into our days. A telling of the story of La Befana, which David and I first heard when we spent our months in Italy, and Julia’s attention for parts of the service. I make her stand and read the candle lighting reading which is done by the entire congregation in unison, and to sing some of the hymns. We sang Deck the Halls, the first Christmas carroll of the season. Julia is able to read the words and although her singing is plainly awful, it is glorious. This time has taught me how important it is to revisit every instant that she withdraws and to decide over and over when it is the time to insist that she is present.
We went home to slabs of cake and cocoa and a fire and candles and Hook, the movie. She colored at times, we cuddled at times. And she went to bed, late but happy, I think. Lizzy, Lukie, Sally, and Mario keeping watch over us.
And in a few hours we pick Cheshire up at the airport. And Christmas begins! Bring on the light!