By Judy Krasna, F.E.A.S.T. Executive Director
My son-in-law tested positive for COVID last week and he was extremely sick, despite being young, healthy, and fully vaccinated. My daughter was torn about what to do; obviously she didn’t want to expose herself and her 2 young children to COVID. They live in a small apartment with no space for her husband to isolate, but he was too sick to be left alone. So, she decided to stay with him, exposing herself and her kids, because she felt like she didn’t have a choice.
As soon as my son-in-law felt well enough to get out of bed, my daughter moved to her in law’s home with her kids after her in-laws generously offered to move out until the quarantine period was over. My daughter found herself struggling to care for her children alone 24/7, in someone else’s home, where no one was sleeping well, and she was exhausted from the whole situation. She didn’t sound good, and I was worried.
Recognizing that she needed a respite and some helping hands, my husband and I decided to take the risk of possible exposure and we went to visit my daughter and grandchildren in their quarantine home. We wore masks, as did my daughter, but we knew that we were taking a chance. We also knew that if one of them tested positive and we had been exposed to them, then my son who is a soldier in the Israeli army would not be able to come home during his vacation time, because the army doesn’t permit soldiers to be exposed to anyone who was exposed to COVID.
I was truly torn. I didn’t want to create a situation where my son couldn’t come home. Home is his refuge and his recharging station. It’s his place to decompress and have some space. Home is his happy place. I didn’t want to take that away from him; however, I didn’t see that I had a choice. My daughter was in a state of crisis that was taking a huge toll on her, and she needed our help.
This situation brought a sense of déjà vu and took me back to the time when my daughter Gavriella first developed an eating disorder and we struggled to care for her while trying not to neglect the needs of our other 3 children. It was an extremely difficult time; and though we tried as hard as we could to make all 4 kids feel like they were the center of our universe, I am sure that at times we failed. Gavriella received the lion’s share of attention, and her well-being consumed us, without leaving room for anything or anyone else at times. She was our primary focus, with our other kids shifting to the side. They were always loved and cared for, but the child in a state of crisis was the one whose needs took priority.
Having triplets was challenging in many ways. When my daughters were babies, it was easier to a degree because their needs were the same. But as they got older, it became significantly harder, because I found that it was inevitable that giving more attention to one child meant that I gave less attention to the other two. It was difficult for me to find the balance between equality and doing what was in the best interest of each child. There were a lot of blurred lines, and I was a black and white thinker. I had a hard time finding my intuition, and I struggled with trying to meet the needs of each child when sometimes the needs of one child clashed with the needs of another.
As my children have matured, I think I have matured as well. I no longer strive to treat my children equally; I strive to meet the needs of each child. There are times when one child’s needs take precedence and become the priority. I know that by focusing more attention on one child, I may be focusing less attention on the others, but I have come to realize this teaches my kids that when they need me the most, I will always be there for them.
My daughter tested positive for COVID the day after we came to help her with the kids, and my husband and I needed to take 2 COVID tests a few days apart and quarantine until we got the second test results. Effectively, this meant that my son could not come home for the first few days of his vacation time, and I felt incredibly guilty about that.
I explained to my son that his sister was in a state of crisis, and that I made a difficult decision to put her needs first, knowing that it may end up being detrimental for him. I apologized to him; I was agonizingly sorry. I am incredibly grateful that my son displayed grace, understanding and compassion, and that he was able to defer to the needs of his sister over his own needs. I believe he also understood that if the time came when he needed to be my priority, then he would be.
This balancing act of parenting is uncomfortable for me at times. I love all of my children equally, but their needs are not always equal, and sometimes being there for one child means that I can’t be there for another, and that hurts. I haven’t found a solution to that yet, I think it’s just part of being a parent.