We returned home on Thursday evening. I really thought I prepared myself for re-entry after the road trip. I had someone come to the house to give it a deep cleaning while we were gone. The house has not been cleaned from top to bottom during the last year. The family has been here 24/7 for over a year. Someone is usually taking a shower, cooking, working on projects, and making messes. Emily loves to go room to room and throw anything she can get her hands on. I recruited Justin to go shopping the day we returned to get staples for Emily and some bagged salad for me. I had worked long hours at my day job before leaving to make sure everything I could think of was handled and processed to limit issues while we were gone. I felt confident about my pre-trip actions.
As we unpacked the car and began to pile it all into the house, it hit me that all my preparation was not enough to suppress the anxiety that overcame me as the house filled. I got 2.5 weeks of work mail dropped off at my house that evening by my wonderful co-worker. She had everything sorted and ready for me but the stack added to my anxiety. Justin had gone camping while we were gone and the contents of his car were in the living room. Emily began fussing as soon as we got home. I was anxious and I felt overwhelmed. What do you do when you are in a state of overwhelm? Take action.
I started by sorting all the laundry and got to unpacking. I started the washer and unloaded the suitcases and crates. I gave Emily a thorough bath and got her ready for bed. She was having trouble going to sleep. I had to sit with her for a long time. She got used to mom and dad being with her every night to help her fall asleep.
Friday morning came too soon. I woke up exhausted. Emily was to go to school on the bus. I knew there was a 50/50 chance the bus would not show up and it did not. I loaded everything into my car and off to school we drove. I started crying on the way. I was tired and had reached a point of breaking down. At that moment, I realized that the trip had been fun, but it was also a lot of work. Todd and I had cared for Emily for the past 18 days with no help. She had trouble sleeping. She had panic attacks during every aspect of hygiene from bathing to toileting. She refused to help with transitional walking. My hips and body were sore and stiff from long hours sitting in the car and sharing a bed with Emily. My self-care had taken a back seat during the trip and I was feeling the results.
Todd and I both agree the trip was worth the work. Emily enjoyed the active days and being seen and heard. We got to see so much and go to states we have never visited. The trip was incredible and we would do it again. It was worth the work and I came back exhausted. That is okay.
I am giving myself grace. I am treating this week as a transition week. My focus is on my day job. Once I am caught up on my tasks there, I will schedule appointments for myself. I will schedule appointments for my care from physical therapy to my eye exam. Self-care will be back in the driver’s seat and my body will be rested.
My mind is already planning another trip. A vacation without Emily. I love her dearly but this trip helped me see how much Todd and I are in need of respite. A break from caregiver duties for a few precious days.