Social Distancing: Week 3
Well, this is really starting to feel like a new normal. The first few weeks felt temporary, but now it’s hard to imagine the end of this. Our schools are still scheduled to reopen May 18, but as more and more states are announcing that they won’t be returning this school year, I’m preparing myself for that to be the case for us as well. Reports say we are still a couple of weeks out from the peak of the virus here, and I imagine after that we can start thinking about a return to normal life, but it’s hard to imagine what returning to normal life will be like.
Will we be able to go places without fear? When will a simple trip to the grocery store seem like a simple trip again? When will it not require placing an order days ahead of time, hoping that you can get most of the order, and then sanitizing all of the groceries when you get them in the house?
When will I drop my kids off at school again? They’ve been amazingly resilient so far, and seem to be understanding of and enjoying our stay-at-home life, but I hate that their school year was cut short so suddenly and unpredictably. I am thankful that they are young and resilient, that they are happy playing together at home, watching videos of their teachers, and doing fun projects with me. But still--my preschooler is switching preschools next year so that I can cut my daily driving time down by more than half, so he doesn’t get to say goodbye to the friends he spent the past few years with. My kindergartner was having such a great kindergarten year, with a teacher that he loves, exciting electives and fun extras like run club that he looked forward to, and was growing by leaps and bounds. In the grand scheme of things, this is small--there are so many kids who are missing the end of their senior year, the end of their high school or college experience, so many who have had to reschedule weddings and baby showers, funerals that can’t be attended, expectant mothers who are terrified of having a baby in the midst of this pandemic. My heart breaks for everyone experiencing these situations, and in light of that, my kids missing the end of their school year is really minor. But I’m still sad about it.
In the midst of this pandemic, I think that's an important thing to remember. We can still experience our emotions, even when other people have it worse. It's okay to be scared and sad and frustrated and anxious and whatever other emotions we are feeling. But it's also okay to find the good, to enjoy the gifts this strange time brings, even in the midst of all the fear and unknown surrounding us.
I’m thankful for a backyard and and mostly beautiful weather since this has all started--I’ve been thinking that if this had all happened in November or December, I probably would have gone stir-crazy in the first week. We went backyard camping this weekend, which was a huge hit (though only one kid and my husband made it all night--I took the three and one year old inside at 2:30 am). The tent set up in our backyard has provided hours of entertainment for our kids. They have a place to get out energy, and to enjoy fresh air. In the middle of all this craziness, we've still been able to create fun family memories. In fact, we've been able to spend so much more time with my husband, since he's been working from home.
The memes making the rounds have brought laughter to this strange new world we have found ourselves in. Most are funny:
And then there are the more serious messages making the rounds, that remind us that Anne Frank and many, many others hid out in conditions we can hardly imagine for much longer.
I’m a big reader, and books set in World War II have always caught my attention, starting with Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Number the Stars as a child. I've read quite a few books set in World War II in recent years, and so the comparisons of this current crisis to that time period interests me.
Reading about the horrors of that time period, the unthinkable things that people had to endure, the evil they were faced with and the choices that had to be made, helps to put things into perspective for me.
We are just being asked to stay home. For most of us, our homes are filled with all kinds of comforts and entertainment, with technology that keeps us connected to what is happening in the world and to our friends and family. I don’t mean to negate the stress and uncertainty of this time–it is a scary time, and I think it’s normal to feel a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve gone from days of endless scrolling and being glued to the news, unable to focus on reading a book or anything not related to the latest COVID-19 information, to days where all I can do is escape into another world through a book. Things that would normally get no second thought, like picking up a grocery order or taking a walk around the neighborhood on a sunny Sunday afternoon are now anxiety-inducing. Will I disinfect the groceries well enough? Will someone's dog get off their leash and cause someone to get within the six foot bubble? Why are those kids that I know don't live in the same house playing together?
These are time of high anxiety, absolutely, but I do think perspective is helpful, especially for those of us who are not on the front lines. The experience of those in healthcare or other essential jobs like grocery stores, first responders, law enforcement, (and their families) is a very different one. During World War II civilians supported the sacrifice of soldiers and their families by rationing goods (Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without) and growing Victory Gardens. We should do the same for those on the front lines of this crisis, by simply staying home (and if we are able, sewing masks or donating to nonprofits that are helping people in this time).
It's becoming more and more clear that this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. I'm holding out hope for a return to somewhat normal life by summer, but until things calm down, we'll continue to do our part by staying home.