• Joni Ganguzza

It’s Okay to Lower Your Bar

Like many of you, towards the end of our Spring Break our school district made the announcement that school would not resume secondary to the COVID-19 pandemic. While most of my kids met the news with joyful screams (especially since they did not understand the gravity of the situation nor realize everything would close), I met the news inwardly with self doubt and fear and maybe a few Oreos.

On top of everything going on in the world, I personally had the worst relapse of my illness earlier this month. This relapse I couldn’t swallow, walk without a walker and assistance, and it effected my speech and breathing. I had the Anointing of the Sick Sacrament for the second time because I went downhill so quickly despite having IVIG which normally drastically improves my symptoms.

Thankfully, I did get better after additional doses of IVIG but I am still going to Occupational, Speech and Physical Therapy 3 days a week because I have a lot of deficits I need to improve.

So now imagine you have a tremor in your left hand, difficulty saying 4-5 syllable words, difficulty reading out loud, you are unsteady walking, one side is weak, you lose your balance easily and then suddenly you have your 7 children home from school. Not only are those 7 home, you suddenly are supposed to homeschool them, make 3 meals a day, referee their arguments, keep the house picked up and somehow make it to all those therapy and doctor appointments each week. Then you open your email and have 5 teacher’s emails with 1000s of websites and activities you could/should be doing with your kids. Then you open Facebook and everyone is posting their perfect homeschool curriculum they put together for their kids.

I inwardly felt like comedian Jim Gaffigan’s joke:

“You want to know what it’s like to have 5 kids? Imagine you are drowning and someone hands you a baby.”

While everyone else was stocking up on toilet paper and Lysol, I wanted to stock up on wine and cookies. Prior to my illness, I used to work 60 hours a week in the Emergency Department, keep a perfect schedule of everyone’s activities, order my family’s groceries every week, exercise nearly every day, keep up the relationships with friends and find time for family time or date night weekly. I set my bar high, like pole vaulter high.

So since I am a recovering over achiever, I mentally shut down for the last week. I put so much pressure on myself to suddenly have to meet all my children’s educational, emotional and spiritual needs despite my own personal mountain to climb I felt emotionally overwhelmed by the situation. You would think since I had a type of chemotherapy that wiped out my B cells I would be more worried about becoming gravely ill from COVID-19, but no, my greatest fear was falling short of the bar I set so high for myself.

The last few days rather than focusing on my health journey as had been my focus, I was overcome by self doubt and anxiety. Rather than face uncertainty head on, I ate unhealthy and spent way too many hours surfing social media which only perpetuated my negative feelings.

So yesterday, I lowered my bar. Not just lowered it, knocked it to the ground. I listened to Andra Day’s “Rise Up” on repeat, I played Legos with my 5 year old and realized he was left handed, I meditated with my 8 year old with the headspace app, I watched an educational movie app with my 9 year old which facilitated a long discussion about the Alamo, I put eye shadow and lipstick on my 6 year old and made her laugh, I made a secret hiding place in my girl’s room so my 11 year old felt like she had a special place to read and do art, I practiced single syllable words with my 18 month old, I snuggled with my 2 year old and I prayed the rosary with my family before bed.

I didn’t do math, science, flash cards or make any attempts on getting ahead in school. I will wait until the school district has an exact plan for us and in the mean time I will focus on being present, doing fun stay at home activities, being healthy, eating food and taking the supplements/vitamins that bless my body, and trusting in God that he will provide all of us the grace to get through each day.

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