Settling In To the “New Normal” – Summer and Beyond
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
This was such a wonderful summary of all the feelings and emotions right now. Thank you for capturing the anxiety, guilt, pressure, uncertainty and ups and downs That so many of us feel right now. Having no known light at the end of the tunnel makes this all so much harder. Thanks for articulating all of this.
Meg (and your staff) this was a beautiful, empathetic , vulnerable message. You hit so many points that I feel every day. You’ve helped me get my baby to sleep, potty train them, and now comfort. Thank you for this, thank you so much.
I’m one of those people who have been chronicling my bread making and children’s meltdowns on social media. I’m lonely. It makes me feel like I have some solidarity when I post stuff like that. Friends reach out and it starts a conversation, and vice versa when others post it. Just sharing my thoughts Thank you for the letter, we love Lucies List! Xo
Thanks for your honestly and vulnerability. I think it’s great, it makes me happy to read that something is working to make someone feel less lonely! We are in this together! The saying “it takes all kinds” is really true right now. As long as you’re not nasty or hurting anyone, I think we all benefit from seeing another perspective. Even if you’re perfectly baked bread or clean closet makes me feel jealous 🙂
I wish for all to be well and be kind! Thanks to Meg and team for the honestly – it is going to be a long haul- and always being there for us parents!
Thank you – and thanks for reading! We love all the comments we get.
Thanks for this honest look at the future. I’ve been saying it all along – this is going to last A LOT longer than people are anticipating! Godspeed to you. Stay sane!
I love this! Thank you for sharing! The real / raw life of quarantine is one that I’m still processing and this article helped sort through it. Although I have to say in defense – I do count the days because I want to document this period, like a journal or diary. I’m also one of those seemingly annoying people who bakes and posts about it – when I find a second to do so. It’s been a lovely stay at home hobby for me that I can knock out during a nap, its quite therapeutic. Absolutely no way in hell could I find time to organize a closet though. I’m frankly kind of jealous of my no-kid friends who have time to organize closets and open up a bottle of rose at 3 pm because they’re “bored”. Sigh… Well, just sharing some caffeine fused thoughts
I completely feel you on this Meg. No time for boredom or organizing. In fact I have more cleaning to even try to clean up with than before. Messes from Crafts, more laundry, more cooking. Definitely more COFFEE. That being said I absolutely love family time but worry and no breaks is a little harder to smooth over in my head.
Thank you for being so vulnerable to share your story, and for putting into words what I’ve been feeling this whole time… especially on the guilt factor! I am one of those people who are lucky enough to be able to WFH, and while it’s insane running after my preschooler – the guilt on what I feel like I can do to help the situation feels so small. I don’t usually have the time to write in, although I’ve always appreciated all of the content from Lucie’s List, since my kid was a newborn! Sending some thoughts of commiseration and yes, let’s all allow ourselves a good cry here and there. Hope the LL crew is taking care of themselves!
You put to paper EXACTLY what I’m going through and how I’m feeling. Thank you for sharing. In case you’re looking for another good method of just letting the emotions out I highly recommend bending over and screaming at the top of your lungs into a thick pillow. It helps.
Your email made me cry in a good way this morning. In a less alone way. Because so many emails focus on how to avoid boredom and keep your kids entertained during all this and that isn’t my struggle. But I think we can all relate to the uncertainty and unanswered questions and trying to make the best of things and even guilt over not being as bad off as others and “how dare I get upset over my little problems when xyz more difficult thing?!!
I don’t know if you will read this, but this email really echoed with me. You managed to describe exactly how I feel, but couldn’t truly express. Thank you for making me feel like I am not alone in feeling this way – above all the guilt for feeling “ungrateful”……
“I don’t know where this email will go – didn’t see a contact email on the website – but I just wanted to thank the writer for this letter below. It’s everything I’ve been feeling (and most intensely the last few days) but haven’t been able to put into words. This brought me back from the edge of depression.
Thank you for sending this out! I have followed you since I was pregnant with our oldest daughter (2015). We have three daughters now (2.5 year old twins too). I needed this today. I never knew you lived in Northern California. So awesome, so do we. I was born and raised in Marin County (Novato). We’re in Petaluma now. Thank you for being vulnerable enough to write this. Brene would be proud!
Thanks for this. It’s nice to see someone not avoiding or thinking it’s all “just an excuse to slow down”. It’s funny though, even though I appreciate this, I still feel compelled to shed a little light. I’m a microbiologist, and so I follow a lot of scientific publications. There will be introduction of therapeutics (medicines) before the vaccines and they will help too.
Thanks Cassie – I hope you’re right!
Thank you for that realistic yet still comforting article. I’m based in NYC and it’s a constant flip flop of ‘We’ll be ok’ to ‘this is never going to end’. We got through Hurricane Sandy while kid-less which is so different to the uncertainty of covid and now with 2 kids in the mix.