Five things getting me through
The challenges of the past month have left me with little time to write along with uncertainty about exactly what I should write. I still stand by my post at the beginning of quarantine about focusing on the positive while staying home. But life is hard right now. Aside from the global chaos, we have had our own upheaval inside these four walls. My husband fell down the stairs, broke his ankle in two places, and needed surgery in the middle of a pandemic. He is recovering now, but what this means for me is this: we are now one man down while juggling the kids at home around the clock (and the messes, meals, and frays that come with it), homeschooling (a huge time commitment since our kids are too young to do anything by themselves), and work from home for my husband and me with the bonus of video conferencing while in the company of three small children and a huge dog.
I am barely keeping it together. But…
When I started to think about what to write for this post, I realized that there is a short list of things that are most definitely keeping me together right now. And maybe they are helping you, too.
Letting go. Now more than ever. There are toys and dog fur on the floor in every single room. The dishes sometimes don’t get touched until 4pm. I only bathe the kids every other night and they are often wearing pajamas or princess dresses all day long. The tv is on. I let them pile into my bed, eat crackers, and watch silly videos before a late bedtime pretty much every night. Now, please don’t think I’m telling you to live in squalor and neglect your children. I would normally say that outer order promotes inner calm. But something’s gotta give. And easing up on the things that are truly not priorities has helped me to focus on the things that are, like staying sane.
Smelling the flowers. I thank the universe that this is all happening in the spring, when plants are coming to life, windows can be opened, and children can play outside. Fresh air and sunshine make a world of difference, and watching the earth come back to life provides comforting reassurance in nature’s cyclical certainty. All things shall pass in time.
Cooking. Ok before you roll your eyes, hear me out. Yes we may feel like mama birds endlessly flying back and forth from the kitchen to fill those little beaks that never stop chirping for food. It is nonstop and it is exhausting. But. There’s also the satisfaction of being able to make everyone happy with food. Everyone’s face is around the table at every meal. There’s the challenge of limited pantry cooking (what can I make with a can of beans, a box of mac and cheese and half a lemon?) and the chance to teach your kids about cooking because let’s face it: it may be messy but it gives them something to do.
Reading all the numbers. Again, this seems contradictory. But what I mean is, I make a point to read all the numbers, not just the scary ones. Yes, there’s the death toll and the worldwide number of contracted cases. But there are also the percentages which help to put in perspective just how small of a chance we have of becoming very ill from this virus. The risk is there. And I understand that it is higher for some. But for every alarming number there is another number which tells me that it will probably be ok. There’s also the number of positive outcomes that present themselves if you look for them: the community efforts, the recovery of the environment, the reinforcement of the family unit. Some days these truths still aren’t enough to combat the grip of panic that pulls me down with the weight of this situation. But broadening my focus and looking for the good helps.
Finding common ground. The thought of my husband and me getting sick with no one to care for our children has kept me up at night. For the first time in our lives we can’t rely on our parents or anyone else to step in and help us. We are all on our own islands right now. We are all fighting our own battles, but in the face of a common threat. The paradox is that we’ve never been so connected while being so alone. Commiseration with friends and family might begin with tears but almost always ends with laughs and virtual hugs.
So be safe, my friends. Figure out what’s getting you through and hang on tight.