Published originally in our Mother’s Day Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
It’s day sixty-something of shelter in place here in Northern California. Honestly, I’d really like to stop counting, but I’m constantly reminded of how much time has passed by those who insist on chronicling the details of their everyday existence on social media. “Today we baked some stuff (Sourdough, OMGEEEE!), the kids rediscovered an old toy/instrument, then had a meltdown.”
In case you don’t believe me, this is my typical Facebook feed…
Yes, you’re baking a lot. We know.
A friend in rural Georgia told me yesterday that her life hadn’t really changed that much. Two weeks of staying at home — and now? All done! Back to normal! She sees her parents all the time because they live right down the street.
Meanwhile, I don’t know when I’ll be able to see my mom again, who lives across the country on the east coast and, like many seniors, is at high risk. Our conversation gave me instant feelings of jealousy and then… I just felt angry. Angsty. I don’t know who I felt angry with, but… I could feel all the emotions welling up in me. Like they do every few days.
And then the tears came. And I just let them. Forget about a stiff upper lip – it feels so good to just cry it out every now and then.
Like most of you, I’m trying to walk a line between staying positive and being realistic. It’s true: there are so many great things to come out of this… and so many losses. All swirled together in one giant mass of emotions.
Personally, it’s really the uncertainty that gets me the most. I wish I were one of those people who can live in the present and choose not to worry about tomorrow; one of those yogi types.
But I can’t.
I have questions and no answers.
Rather… I am trying to piece together the answers — but they aren’t the answers I want.
What I am gathering is this: Life, for roughly the next two years, is going to be very, very different.
This article in The Atlantic, Our Pandemic Summer, summarizes it well:
“…the only viable endgame is to play whack-a-mole with the coronavirus, suppressing it until a vaccine can be produced. With luck, that will take 18 to 24 months. During that time, new outbreaks will arise…‘I think people haven’t understood that this isn’t about the next couple of weeks,’ said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. ‘This is about the next two years.’”
Two years of the hammer and the dance. For those that are high-risk, it’s two years of living in fear.
That’s a long time (man, I hope I’m wrong about this!).
So, as we transition from high-alert mode to more of a “settled in” mode, I’m learning that I need to work on three important skills I currently suck at:
- staying flexible,
- learning to deal with disappointment, and
- being okay with uncertainty.
Will our kids go back to school in the Fall? No one knows. They can’t know. It all depends on what happens this summer.
And what if schools and daycares don’t open back up? How will we work? If we can’t work, how do we pay the bills? This question is top of mind for most parents, I know. And thousands more are already in these exact dire straits. And again… there is no answer.
These are super important questions, questions that affect our very livelihoods. And how can we not be stressed about that??
And after I freak out, I bring it back to center: we are okay, we are okay, we are okay.
I also have major guilt (which I just learned is called a meta-feeling, that is, a feeling about feelings — thank you Brené Brown). I have guilt that I don’t have it nearly as bad as others – and it’s true! My god, it could be 100x worse in so many ways. I recall stories my dad used to tell about the Polio epidemic, which killed 2 of his classmates in the 2nd grade 😢.
…I’m telling you this because I suspect this is where many people are at, and sometimes it’s just nice to know you’re not alone. Among all these smiling, sourdough-making friends who are so proud of all the crafts they’ve constructed this week and how many closets they’ve cleaned out, you are not alone in feeling worried and sad about life and the future right now.
And so we round a corner toward the longer-term, the 2-year plan; we try to settle into the unknown, the unpredictable. And we try our best to get okay with it. And we will because…. we have to.
I’m so glad to have you, dear readers. I feel like we are going through this journey together. No matter which stage in the parenthood game you’re in, I hope you’re hanging in there and realizing some amazing silver linings. Who knows, maybe you even learned to bake bread 😉.
What I do know with certainty is that summer is coming. I have no idea how it will look, but I hope at least (like me), your spirits will rise with the temperature. We will figure this thing out as we go — and everything will be okay (right!?).
Be well and Happy Mother’s Day