Last night, I read an article about how restrictions were finally being lifted in China after 76 days. 76. The sheer immensity of that number stunned me. If we’re counting, I think we’re on day 26. (Who knows what day it is, really?) I wish I had the optimism to think we’ll be out of this by the time Wuhan was… but I don’t.
Reflecting on this time is strange, because there isn’t an end in sight. I feel like a pregnant woman who has no due date. I don’t do well without deadlines. It’s a lifelong issue for me. The light at the end of the tunnel is tough to see during these long days.
I miss being alone, which is weird for this extrovert to say, but it’s 100% true. I love my children dearly, but the truth is — I am a working mother because I function better with a little break (even if that means I’m working in said break). I also find time to keep our lives in order, to work out, and to generally be a functioning adult.
As much as I miss my alone time, I also ache for time with the people I know and love. I miss our friends and family in a way I can’t fully explain. I miss the teachers who so lovingly open their arms to my children every day. I miss the barista who happily hands me my coffee each morning. I miss going to my local spin studio and sweating out the day’s frustrations. I miss our trusty trio of babysitters who make date nights and girls’ nights possible. I miss hugs. I miss so many things. I’m trying not to dwell on the life BC (Before COVID-19), but it’s hard not to when you have children hanging upside down from the couch, while screaming the Pledge of Allegiance.
Working from home and managing the well-being of two children is not a path I’d chosen for myself… but here we are. Our kids have been in daycare since their early days because we have always worked outside of the home. They thrive in routine. They enjoy the company of their classmates. They come home, full of stories about their days. I miss those stories. I miss seeing other parents at drop-off and pick-up, signaling to each other in a form of mutual admiration for getting to that point in the day. Above all, I miss our routine — something I never thought I’d say. I know in my heart that I miss it because it was predictable. It had a rhythm. Nothing has a rhythm in this strange world.
Working from home and managing the well-being of two children is not a path I’d chosen for myself…
We’re four weeks into being at home, so you’d think we have some sort of routine by now. In some respects, we are. We are (all) sleeping later. We are eating breakfast together, which never happens. We all hungrily descend on the kitchen at lunchtime. If work goes as planned, we eat dinner as a family and then watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy before bedtime.
When I re-read that paragraph, I see a theme. Togetherness. Before all of this, my husband traveled two or three nights a week. Having him home is a blessing, but it is also a taste of what life could be like if he had a more “normal” schedule. To be honest, I don’t look forward to the day he is back on the road so much. However, when that day comes, it means we will be able to emerge from these home cocoons. It all feels a bit like a Catch-22.
If we follow the Wuhan model (which I fear is an underestimate in the US as our stay-at-home rules aren’t as strict), we are roughly one third of the way through this crisis. I haven’t mastered any new skills. I haven’t fully folded the laundry in three weeks. I haven’t worn more than under-eye concealer (for video calls) since the second week of March. Instead of focusing on what I haven’t done, I’m trying to make the focus on what we have done.
We have made it through 100% of the days in quarantine thus far.
We have made it through 100% of the days in quarantine thus far. Yes, read that again. We have made it through 100% of the days in quarantine thus far. We may not feel like we’re operating at 100%, but we are safe and we are healthy. Our kids are still alive. They are learning to be more independent and relishing in the peace and quiet of home. My husband and I are supporting each other in new ways. (Don’t be fooled: it’s not always flawless.) We’ve been enjoying Zooms and House Party calls with friends near and far. I’m trying desperately to see the bright spots.
2020 is living up to its famous idiom. Hindsight is always 2020. We will look back on this time in 5, 10, 30 years and see what we weathered. We will have a routine again. We will travel again. We will hug again.
Until those days come, I will allow myself to take each day in hourly increments. I will remind myself that there is nothing that an episode of Magic School Bus can’t fix. I will give myself grace that we’re not creating grand projects. I will celebrate getting through EACH day. I encourage you to do the same.
PS: I can’t share this post without expressing our extreme gratitude to all serving on the front lines. Doctors, nurses, and all medical staff deserve a special badge of honor for their selflessness. From our UPS driver to the grocery store clerk, there are so many folks who are putting their lives at risk to keep us safe, fed, and healthy. We are forever grateful.