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How Covid-19 Helped Clarify Priorities for My Family

The greatest lesson I learned during COVID-19 was that I really wasn’t holding true to my promise of not letting Choice MD come before my family.

Sure, I had some minor mishaps throughout the year that were indicative of how I was failing, like when I completely forgot about my daughter’s Kindergarten Word Parade and ran to the office to borrow markers and paper to make a, drum roll please, “Tie-Dye” poster. I was being crafty with what I had but I’m still not 100% sure if a hyphenated word counted as one word.

Truth be told, when the nation went into lockdown I was so absorbed in my business that I needed something to really shock me into reality, and COVID-19 did just that. March 17, 2020 was the date I turned 40 and also the day that Miami went into lockdown. I had big plans of going to Ireland and it was going to be epic as we planned to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day the way they do in the motherland. My sweet husband had planned a 10-day gateway with fairytale excursions including sleeping in castles. After one year of working the hardest I had ever worked juggling my business and managing my sweet kindergartner’s busy days, to say I needed it was an understatement.

I made the decision to cancel the trip two days before we were supposed to leave. I was holding on to hope but as the numbers climbed my heart sank. I couldn’t, in the right mind, leave both my girls during a pandemic, even if it meant losing a lifelong dream. The day came and went, and it really started to blend into the subsequent days. My days were filled with listening to the news while trying to answer emails and a fair amount of yelling to get anything accomplished with my steadfast 5-year old. What happened? She was always the sweetest girl with the cheeriest disposition. Actually, everyone was really crabby and stressed. It took a minute, a week and a half to be precise, to realize I was mainly the reason everyone was stressed. 

Here’s the thing, my husband runs a lab at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and my step daughter works at a lab at the University of Miami. While I live in a house with two other adults, the brunt of the housework, homeschooling and child rearing was up to me while trying to manage Choice MD. On top of that, we were all trying to figure out our protocols for two individuals leaving and entering the house on a daily basis with a cartwheeling child with two loose teeth and a dog at home. I was cleaning endlessly, so much so that I actually remember telling a friend “It’s a shame we have to social distance because my house is the cleanest it’s ever been.” If you’ve ever been to my house you would know that says a lot. My family has ALWAYS said that I have OCD and until recently I thought it was just a joke. That said, I woke up one morning exhausted from constantly cleaning my floors and disinfecting handles to realize my fears were unwarranted and that’s when I called my doctor to ask for help. Sometimes the hardest part of facing any problem is recognizing it, and that was absolutely the case. 

It took about a week for the effects to take place and I can wholeheartedly say it was the smartest decision I made for myself and my family. I kind of liken it to the safety precautions on a plane. Hear me out, you are always asked to put your mask on before helping your child because you just can’t help someone else if you’re losing oxygen. When the air cleared, it hit me like a ton of bricks, my sweet little girl was acting the only way she knew how to get my attention. I had made her feel like she was second to my company and she wasn’t wrong for feeling that way. Up until then, I had invested all my time in her. As I chose to only have one child and I wasn’t going to miss any of her milestones. I soaked up every one of her accomplishments with the greatest joy and all of a sudden when she was starting new adventures in a new school, I wasn’t fully present and she felt that. 

I had a lot of fixing to do but here’s the good news – I had a lot of time to do it. I changed my work schedule around and started working early mornings and when she went to bed. I made it my mission to get my best friend back. We built stick forts, made mud pies, went biking around the neighborhood and to be honest, it felt great! Once the heat picked up, we brought the party indoors and dusted off the Wii and went bowling, sword fought, and built forts again. I noticed she was changing, for the better. She was her bubbly self and the joy of laughter filled the house again. The other thing I noticed is that I was able to start fitting in work throughout my day. Maybe I’d answer a few emails, work on finances for 20-30 minutes here and there. Now, on the really good days, I’m able to get through a decent amount of work. I get it now, the quality of time you invest in your child makes a huge difference in how they perceive themselves in this world.

I can’t say I’m handling things perfectly, I’m not. I’m exhausted, stressed, and in-pain from my body being overworked with MS. However, I was given a second opportunity to focus my energy on centering my work around my family, our wellbeing, and that’s how it will be from here on out.

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