My mom has been watching the national news for months, so we knew he panic was coming. She would relay to me every day about this country or that country who had forced their citizens to stay inside their homes, and I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what that would look like for me and Cole (and my mom). It all seemed so far away, and something that simply couldn’t affect us here, but I was completely wrong.
Then on March 16th it came. Our governor announced that school will be completed for the next week via AMI work, and we buckled in for what we thought would be a few days home, a spring break, and then return back to school. The prospect of staying home for a couple of weeks, given our weekly schedule of school activities, kids’ sports and crazy spring work obligations, didn’t sound too bad, at first. My routine trips to the grocery store, which are usually dotted by a couple of grocery pickups, and a trip to Sam’s per month for filler items (and sample day, because HOLLA, who doesn’t love Sam’s sample day?) all of a sudden turned into carefully crafted trips for our groceries and my mom’s, where nobody was making eye contact with other shoppers, smiling, or even saying hello or good morning. People stopped being polite (which for some of them wasn’t a stretch, sorry to say), and got into arguments over that last package of toilet paper, those clorox wipes, and that package of Tylenol. Social media, while never the place before where people could simply disagree with someone respectfully, was all of a sudden a landmine of controversy. I hit the unfollow button and scrolled on past, knowing that every person I know was feeling the stress of our weird new lives, and tried to extend lots more grace than usual.
Now, a month and a few days later, we have adjusted to our new life. Doing my own job from home has proved difficult, because I crave face to face conversation with my students. So much can get lost in translation via text and email, so we have all learned how to have google hangouts for faculty meetings, meetings with students, and sessions brainstorming with other counselors on how to reach those kids who may not have a way to contact us. I have eaten way too many calories, watched way too much TV, and spent too much time on my phone.
Our new normal (for the time being) has shifted into something kind of beautiful, with more hours spent outside playing, Cole learning how to cook, growing our garden, and lots of reading time in our hammocks in the yard. He misses his teachers and friends so very much, but those wonderful men and women check in with all of their students twice a week on hangouts calls (quite the feat if you have ever eavesdropped on a 4th grade classroom that is now totally online). Although the shift hasn’t been easy, I like to think that Cole and I are survivors, that we are wildly capable of doing hard things, of staying home when we would rather be out, of protecting the most important people in our lives by limiting our own contact with germs, so that we don’t spread them.
I wish that I had answers to so many of the big important questions people ask me about events that always happen in the spring, like spring soccer, graduation, prom, and just life in general, but wait and see is the answer for so much of what we normally do (that we actually love to do). So we will do our part, doing grocery pick up when we can get a slot, walking our dogs, playing outside, and biding our time until the beauty salons and barbershops open back up, so we can look a little more put together. I was put off this week by two men who had some harsh words to say for me wearing a fabric mask in Walmart, they had commentary about how they don’t do a thing. But honestly, I think of them as being more able other people. I would hate to spread any germs that I might have to someone taking chemo with a compromised immune system, to some of our precious retired neighbors we see while we walk our dogs, or most especially to my mom. The time we are living in is truly more about being selfless, instead of selfish, about checking on our neighbors and kids we know may not be getting the love they get from us every day at school, and about showing people we care about them, in a time when they may feel like no one at all does.
Be strong, moms and dads trying to balance work and helping your kids with school, because while I have been to college a couple of times, I still wasn’t aware that you aren’t supposed to space after a period two times anymore, a subject of much argument in my home now. I don’t have any street cred with 4th grade Math or Science either, but he seems to be handling it all in stride, just like our pets, who are living their best lives ever (I think they are hoping this all goes on forever, and they get to keep us at home indefinitely with all of the walks, treats and extra attention).