By JENNIFER STEUER
Harlan, my mom and I have all gotten our vaccinations. Half of our house is vaccinated! In mid-May the vaccine was released for 12-15 year olds, and Rebecca, Olivia and Benjamin had never been so excited to get a shot in their lives. Another countdown began: How long until their appointments? Trying to make the appointments was frustrating and time-consuming.
The vaccine gives me hope for the future. I like showing my trio that hope is still possible in all of this devastation. When things get complicated, I like to remember a phrase from “Untamed,” a memoir by Glennon Doyle: “We can do hard things.” If anything, the last 15 months have shown us all that we can do hard things.
Life is full of hard things. As a mom, there are days with hurdles that begin the second my head comes off the pillow and my feet hit the floor. As a mom to triplets, just getting my head on the pillow can be a challenge sometimes. Not only am I a mom, but I am also Harlan’s care partner for his hemodialysis. I have days that feel like they will never end. There are days that are over in the blink of an eye. I am a mom, and I do hard things.
I knew that getting pregnant with Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Hormones, shots and procedures were all necessary in order to get and stay pregnant. Harlan learned how to give me shots in my backside and how to deal with my persistent vomiting during my entire pregnancy. I had plenty of bed rest, boredom and trips to the bathroom. There were lots of doctor’s appointments, anxiety attacks and ultrasounds. Getting pregnant, being pregnant and giving birth via C-section were all hard things, and I did all of those hard things!
There is hard stuff coming up for my kids. Olivia is counting down until the first day of eighth grade. By the time their last year of middle school starts, it will have been 18 months since Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca have been inside their school. It will be 18 months since they have seen most of their friends and teachers in real life. This may not seem like a long time, but it is 11 percent of their lives! A little perspective: For me it is only 3 percent of my lifetime. Being away from their peers is hard … and lonely, so very lonely.
I’m a mom raising triplet teenagers as they attend school virtually, deal with hormones, chores and loneliness. All of this during a pandemic feels like a trial by fire. We are coming up on a second summer break that is touched by COVID. My kids remember how carefree vacations used to be: friends, parks, swimming, the summer reading program, visiting cousins and staying up later to read or play games. Benjamin, Rebecca and Olivia are doing the best they can, and sometimes a meltdown happens. I am often overwhelmed with the need to constantly be “on.” I don’t hold the meltdowns against them, and hopefully they don’t count my meltdowns against me.
Masks may be coming down and in-person human interactions going up, but fear is the new normal. I would like to believe that COVID is going to be wiped from the Earth, but I am also a realist. In my opinion, this virus and the variants will be around for a very long time, and we will need to stay vigilant. We will keep washing our hands. We will carry hand sanitizer. We will hang out with friends outside. We will avoid large crowds. We will all be vaccinated. We will hang out with vaccinated friends. We will do all we can to be safe. Thanks to Glennon Doyle my new battle cry is, “We can do hard things!”
Jennifer Steuer is an Albany mom whose busy household includes her husband, Harlan, and 13-year-old triplets Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca. Follow her on Instagram: jennifersteuer.