I’m gonna be real with you here. We aren’t pushing school all that hard right now. My kids aren’t academic geniuses.
They aren’t teaching themselves calculus and foreign language during this break. They aren’t above grade level or excelling or anything like that. And I don’t even care. They’re mostly trying their best and I love them for that.
They’re average kids. And that’s awesome. Guys. Someone has to be average. We can’t all be gifted and talented, or that’d become the new average.
I’m gonna be real with you again. My kids are fucking rad as hell. They really really exemplarily awesome kids, the absolute coolest, kindest kids I know.
And right now, they’re living their best life. And so darn happy. And PLAYING. HARD. This season of life, for us, is super chill with nothing but time. Weeks of Saturdays, with assignments sprinkled in where they fit.
We were behind before this started. And we might be behind in spots in the fall. But our successes can look different than yours, right now. Our triumphs and failures and to do lists can be our own right now. We’ll do us. You do you. Be okay with your day not looking like everyone else’s.
Be okay knowing that you’re doing the best you can do.
What does that even mean anymore, typical. Someone asked me how we spent our days. Now that thee kids aren’t in school and we can’t go anywhere. What do we do all day?
I don’t even know how to answer that. They go by slowly, and all at once. I have all the time and none of it. My kids play. A lot. Together. And apart. The TV is on sometimes. Sometimes it’s on most of the time. I pretend that we watch mostly educational shows, but sometimes they’re more educational than others.
We do homework occasionally (but maybe not as much as we should? I can’t be sure because the guidelines are foggy.). We read together and apart. We play outside. A lot. I cook and clean up from cooking what feels like almost all day. Some days there’s more yelling than others. We usually don’t cry. Typical day’s are so atypical now, I can’t even clearly tell you what they look like.
The days drag on and fly by, all the the same time, with an ongoing list of things that should have gotten done and didn’t. A list of things that will go on tomorrow’s list of good intentions. How things can go slowly and quickly, all at the same time still blows my mind.
Our days now circle around prepping and feeding and cleaning up meals. They work in 30 minute chunks of studying and schoolwork. They take place in between the parts of our days that need to happen in order for our optimal mental health (meaning my morning workouts and our weather-permitting neighborhood walks).
This slow season is so different for me. It’s a month of snowdays, unable to go anywhere or see anyone or do anything with the gift of time.
Last year was our first solo Easter. When we moved to Denver, we knew that our holidays would look a little different. We left our families behind for a solo adventure. Last Easter, we were driving home from our San Diego spring break trip. We stopped at the prettiest pitstop in Utah, soaking in the biggness of it all.
This year, like everyone else’s holiday, was different.
We stayed home. We cooked easy, favorite foods. We laid low and took our time.
On Saturday, we surprised the kids with an early mini egg hunt since Easter was snowy. The trails by our house offered a little better hiding spots than our backyard, which meant we needed to wear our masks. It was almost normal, for a little while.
The kids didn’t mind the mask wearing, surprisingly enough. It’s a big change, and I expected big fights, but they’re taking it in stride, like everything else.
We started our Sunday with a basket hunt. Wilson had been anxiously awaiting his Easter basket for weeks. He’d picked out a LEGO set at the end of February, and I’d picked it up along with the rest of our Easter supplies in an anxious shopping trip at the beginning of March.
We hid eggs in the afternoon, after a morning of playing and treat making and video games. The kids loved it so much they begged to do it again the next day, only harder. (With nothing but time, of course we obliged.)
It was a really wonderful day. A slow day. A quiet holiday. Holidays stress me out, the hustle and bustle and running and expectations. I hate rushing and obligations that come along with them. The compromises and the time shares. It was a slow, quiet day. Soaking in the people I love most in the world.
Today school was officially declared online for the remainder of the year, and the governor asked us all to wear masks out and about. A lot of changes today to our daily life.
Yesterday, we got the calls about what online learning looks like. They talked us through their plan. I’m thinking of the last time we were there, at school. I don’t even remember the details. It was a Thursday. The day before, we had swim lessons and afterwards the Rec Center closed. We were out to dinner, and as we were walking in, we got the text.
I don’t remember anything special about those last days of school. On Monday, we had conferences and went to the book fair. But if I would have known they’d been the last of the year, there’s a list of things I’d done differently.
I am thankful for so much, for the teachers we have this year. The conferences we squeezed in right before it all changed. I’m thankful for the Valentine parties the month before, and the friend photos I snapped for the kids.
And in the midst of all of this, I’m thankful for the slow pace we can tackle the remainder of the school year with. I’m thankful for the gentle guidance and the cheering on of our community.
We’ve got this. We can do this. We knew this was coming, and it’s okay to not be totally ready and still be surprised and feeling unsure. But we can do this.
The other day, I ran to the grocery store. I won’t post pictures, because I don’t take them. I hate shopping. Which is weird for me, because Target with a Starbucks solo used to be my dream preschool morning.
Shopping gives me anxiety, a ball of nerves bubbling in my chest. Too many people. So many germs. And any or all of them could be coming down with or recovering from or an asymptomatic carried of this awful virus.
I don’t love it.
I wear gloves, I have my own wipes. I bring hand sanitizer. If I need my phone, it stays in one hand, and I grab everything else with the other. If I don’t, it stays in my pocket with my car key and it gets a thorough wipe down when I leave.
And I don’t take photos.
But that’s not the point, and neither is the immense anxiety I feel when there’s something we’re out of at home. The point is, that for the first time since this whole thing started, I went to the grocery store and it was almost full. Granted, I didn’t leisurely stroll the aisles and take note of the stock of everything, but the limited list of things I was looking for, and the things I passed on the way were all there. There was meat galore. Produce. Milk and eggs.
It was almost normal.
Until I got to my car, wiped it all down, disposed of my gloves, bathed in hand sanitizer, and changed immediately upon getting home. But it was almost normal.
What’s changed in the last few weeks? Besides everything.
Three weeks ago, we were still in school. I was stressing about the Coronavirus, but it wasn’t a huge deal yet. I was prepping for company. We were planning Spring Break. Three weeks ago, we sat around little tables at conferences and explored the book fair. Three weeks ago, if I would have known, we would have spent our Monday differently.
I have never ever cooked so much in my whole life. Folks. The struggle is real. I feel like I’m doing dishes or cooking most of the day, with sprinkles of tripping over toys and breaking up fights and redirecting in between. I cook now. We eat leftovers. I plan our meals. I grocery shop with intention and lists. Basically, I’m a more responsible grown up now.
We miss our friends. I miss my friends. But, I do make more of an effort now to check in daily-ish with people, including my Minnesota mom squad. Life always got so busy, too loud for phone calls. Weeks would pass and then you’d mean to call, but things would come up. And now I call. Or voice text. Or slide in to their DM’s with a humorous meme on Instagram. But I’m working harder at showing up for the women who mean so much to me.
Spending is down. Granted, I spent a lot of money in the weeks leading up to this. I started stressing seriously at the end of February and stocked up on a whole lot of stuff (like toilet paper and paper towels, before it was trendy). But since then, I’ve been pretty good about reigning in my supplemental spending. So, basically, I’m a better grown up now. We’re on a budget, trying to limit excess spending. And while I did splurge on a few fun surprises for the kids, they were well thought out and pretty intentional. (And they’ve all been pretty big hits). I thought for sure I’d comfort shop and splurge on some new spring clothes, or buy the shoes that have been in my cart for a while, but I’m really working on holding off. And being a more responsible adult.
Our days have slowed down. We’re literally never in a hurry right now. We have absolutely no where to be. Nothing that must be done (until next week when we start online schooling). Sure, we’ve spent some days watching too much TV or too much technology time, or I’ve spent way too much time freaking out on Reddit, but for the most part, we’ve found a good balance. We try to go for walks when it’s sunny. I really need to get a workout in for my own mental health. But with nothing on our to-do or to-go or to-see list, we have the flexibility to go slow and take our time. Granted, I am really really excited to go for a hike again, but that day will come. And for now, the trails behind our house will suffice.
I’ve changed. A lot. In the last few weeks. And we’ll all keep changing, over the next few weeks. Adapting and growing and learning. I can do this. You can do this. We can do this. I’m going to keep on growing up, while chilling out, and reprioritizing.
When businesses started to close and people started to lose their jobs, I turned to my husband and said. This is hard, but we know your job is safe. You do so much for them, you work so hard, we’ll be okay.
I took relief in knowing that even though this was hard, that I was stressed and sad and overwhelmed by more change than I could imagine, at least I didn’t have to worry about that.
But I was wrong.
On Tuesday, my husband’s company did a RIF. A “reduction in force”. An attempt to keep the company afloat for the next 12 months. And I came upstairs from my workout to hear, “Emily, I’ve been let go. I’ve got to jump on a meeting.” I wanted to cry and scream and WHAT THE FUCK, but he had to jump on a meeting and I had kids with big ears basing their reactions on my reaction.
We’ve never been in this position before. I’ve been laid off, but I was never the breadwinner. He’s always carried the insurance and paid the mortgage and been the responsible adult in our relationship, making sure our bills are paid. We’ve never been here, without an income. And certainly not in the middle of a pandemic.
A reduction in force, based on no particular logic. I thought for sure we’d be fine. He’d be safe. But we weren’t. Twenty percent of his office is in this same rocky boat. So many people right now, suddenly struggling.
Things since Tuesday have gone surprisingly well on the job front. Turns out companies are indeed still hiring. It is possible to find work. He’s completely stepped up and kicked ass and hustled his way through dozens of applications and a few interviews in the longest 72 hours of my life. And I am so damn proud of him for how he’s responded to this. How he just dove in and did it.
I, on the other hand, am drowning in anxiety and paralyzing fear of all of the unknown. The waiting. The complete and total lack of control. I am so deep in the grief of everything I knew for certain just a few weeks ago. He says he’s a duck. Calm and collected from the surface of the lake, but treading water below. I don’t what animal I am. Maybe an ostrich, desperately trying to stick her head in the dirt.
It’s funny to me, when you tell people bad news, they immediately try to spin it. Maybe that’s my midwestern friends. Oh, honey. I’m sorry. But he’ll land on his feet. A blessing in disguise. This will be for the best. Something better will come along.
I mean, I get it. I do it, too. But guys. This. Blows. Ask any of the many, many people unemployed right now, treading water in a time of unprecedented suck, how they’re doing. They’re a mess. They’re angry. They’re a little lost.
Check on your friends who are out of work right now. They’re not okay.
Yesterday, we were told officially to stay home. I forget how long we need to do this, or how long we’re been doing this. Or where exactly we’re still allowed to go and do, but basically it’s not much.
We’ve been staying home for the last few weeks. I leave occasionally to get groceries, but Target isn’t even fun anymore. Shopping is stressful, the shelves are bare and you’re looking at everyone suspiciously wondering if they’re the ones who will get you sick. I wear gloves now. Bring my own wipes, carry hand sanitizer, and keep track of what I touch. I miss the days of strolling the aisles, sipping my Starbucks. I miss browsing.
Now that we’re officially required to stay home, we can’t play in the sandbox we found a week ago. We can still go for walks, but intentionally. We shouldn’t do extra shopping or frivolous stops. We need to not play with our friends (who we haven’t see in weeks).
We’ve been told to stay home. To leave only when needed. To exercise outside, but not play. Walk but not too close. To avoid people and crowds and don’t touch anything and please for the love of god not your face. We were asked, and now we’re told, to distance, together.
It’s an odd one, this pandemic. We’re all in this together, but we’re all so very alone.
I’ve painted my way through the hard seasons for years. The instant gratification and the quick fresh start calms my nerves. Something tangible to focus on. Something entirely in my control.
When things started to go downhill with this COVID thing, I joked with Ryan that we’d need to do a Home Depot run for some quarantine supplies. And before we started socially distancing, I swung by Sherwin Williams for a few gallons of paint.
I don’t love change. I really dislike it. But this change, this small and unimportant change. This I have control over, this is my choice. This I can change over and over and over again.
Paint a room. See progress and change, big change, quickly. Have a fresh start. Try something new. Let me know how it goes.
I wonder what my kids will remember from this season. This season of distancing and isolation. The spring break we stayed home. We saw no one. We only went outside to walk and bike and hike, but didn’t stop at any of the playgrounds. I wonder what they’ll remember of this season of us all being at home. Of weeks of Saturday’s.
I hope they remember the games and the movie nights and the little things that I planned to make this tricky time easier. I hope they remember the day I busted out the extra playdoh or dug out a hidden art project.
I hope they remember our talks about going without to keep others healthy. I hope that this passes quickly, and relatively easily. That if we get it, we stay in bed and watch movies and drink Gatorade and recover without hiccups.
I hope that this season is as peaceful as it can be. That planning helped, that we’re prepared.
I hope they look back on this season as one that changed them, but didn’t wear them out. Inspired them to think differently about what’s important and who’s important and inspires creativity and selflessness.
I hope that this season lasts longer than we want, for the sake of many, giving everyone the time to catch up that they desperately need. I hope we have the patience to keep it up, even when we’re tired.
I don’t know what this spring will look like, but I’m hopeful. That we’ll all come together, while we’re so far apart, for the greater good of many.
One day, this will be over. This lock down, the fear, the shortages. One day, we’ll be on the other side. We’ll have come through, stronger, but weary. One day, my kids will tell their kids about that time the world shut down because of a virus. One day, they’ll want to know more about what happened this spring. They’ll have questions.
I remember in February, before I flew to Disney with NoCo Moms Blog, discussing the Coronavirus with a friend and her coworker at the gym. Her coworker’s family lived just south of Wuhan and there was this wild virus going around. Things were getting locked down, it was wild. But we were safe. They were safe. They weren’t horribly worried.
On my flight, I briefly thought about bring hand sanitizer. I wasn’t worried. It wasn’t here. I was safe, we were safe. Our flight was full – there was a cheerleading competition at Disney that weekend. A few girls wore masks and we joked that maybe they had it. We weren’t concerned.
I came home. It was fine, no one was worried. China was locked down. It was fine.
Mid-February, I was worried. But felt crazy. So I didn’t say anything. I texted a friend, we bought toilet paper. We read reddit. I felt crazy, so I didn’t say anything.
And then at the end of February, shit got realer. Seattle got hit. And we were texting back and forth, and it was too big to deal. Too big to really think about. It was wild and unbelievable and couldn’t possibly happen to us. But we went out and bought toilet paper.
Here we are, three weeks later. The country is out of toilet paper. Finding milk AND eggs AND meat at the grocery store is a reason to celebrate. And we’re discussing locking the whole country down.