It’s day fourteen now. Two weeks in. Friends and family that live back in Texas are just starting their social distancing journey; Houston’s stay at home order started at midnight Tuesday. Homeschooling began Monday for them. On social media, they’ve started talking about how much they love being at home, how they were made for this.
I remember day one.
Introverts Tire of Social Distancing, too
I love being at home more than the average person. Reading books, writing, staring at the wall imagining something I’ll create are all my absolute favorite things. Other favorite things are hiking and running—both of which I can still do while social distancing. My favorite people are here. Our house is big enough for us to all have space, we have a great backyard, and a beautiful neighborhood to walk through. What more could I ask for?
Peace of mind.
I appreciate that people are trying to be positive. But people who are just beginning to stay home fail to realize that it’s more than just a long weekend with nowhere to go. People are dying. Luckier ones are struggling to breathe. Hospitals are filling up. Professionals with accurate information are making preparations to care for a staggering amount of people.
Could I just relax and enjoy my time at home at the expense of thousands of Americans getting sick and dying? At the expense of medical professionals who are overwhelmed, overworked, lacking supplies and suffering daily trauma as people die all around them? While people who lived comfortably now no longer know how they’ll make their mortgage payment? While others don’t know how long they’re going to be able to eat?
Politicizing the COVID-19 Outbreak
I remember when I was younger, I thought it was wrong and strange how much people would talk politics in response to a natural disaster. I wondered, ‘how was the president supposed to know about a hurricane? How is it his fault that something occurred in nature?’
Now that I’m wiser, I see that it’s a leader’s role to prepare for whatever may happen. That involves employing specialists that can catch things before they come or slow their speed upon arrival, having funds allocated for possible crisis, having crisis plans in place, following those crisis plans, taking responsibility when things don’t go as planned, not creating blockades for those lower on the chain of command to succeed, and inspiring hope when times are desperate.
But all while this is happening, the leaders of this country have been more focused on a money-hungry agenda than the safety of the American people. From calling it a hoax repeatedly and misinforming American people, to denying much-needed coronavirus tests from the World Health Organization, selling off stocks with information not given to the public to downplaying the virus while encouraging viral spread by advising people to ‘get better by going to work’. The President’s slow move to declare a national emergency while local governments were already moving and suggesting the use of drugs that were not recommended by the FDA has already cost lives and will continue to do so.
Things have already gotten dire, as evidenced by footage at a hospital in nearby Queens, New York.
And then to suggest preemptively sending everyone back to work, though it would be worse for the economy?! To suggest allowing our grandparents to die for the economy?! To be doing far less for the financial welfare for our people than countries all over the world?
Maybe I would have been better off if I would have stayed away from the news. But would that have been something I could have done? Looked at a situation that was unlike anything any of us have experienced in our lives and shown no curiosity? To accept that I was to lock myself indoors and not keep an eye out for hope, understanding, and knowledge?
It’s only getting worse. Children are dying, too. America is seeing a lot more young people with coronavirus cases than we initially expected. Epidemiologists are predicting 80,000 deaths by July, and a lot of factors could move that number higher.
Let’s Talk Closer to Home.
I initially didn’t want to write too much about the political aspects of COVID-19. I hardly touched on the financial aspects of this–the Great Depression-like economy that some may dub The Trump Slump. Not because my family isn’t effected by job loss and pay cuts (because it is) but because I’m just exhausted in this moment by looking for the resources I had read previously to link back in this post.
The reason I changed my mind is because all of the what has been going on in the world with the COVID-19 pandemic is weighing heavy on my mind and heart. It’s frightening. The injustice that is going on during this pandemic on top of what already goes on every day is disturbing and exhausting.
Homeschooling my Middle Schooler during COVID-19 Pandemic
On top of the emotional weight, add on the additional roles parents are playing day-to-day as teachers. I thought it was enough to check in consistently with my child to see if he was doing his online classwork, ask him if he needs help, and to guide him back to the work when he was getting distracted. I was wrong. He was switching back to YouTube tabs when I wasn’t looking. How disappointing and frustrating.
When he does ask me for help, it’s usually right in the middle of my toddler needing my full attention. Even if I chose to direct my attention to my older child, how much attention can I give when someone is crying in my ear?
Resigning from High Expectations
A couple of nights ago, I had a full-on breakdown. The overwhelm of the crisis, trying to hold it together for my tween’s mental health, entertaining a toddler indoors most of the day, having triple the work around the house with more people eating more meals and completing more activities at home, the financial stress that has impacted our family, not having a moment to myself to exercise, I haven’t been able to finish a book in 5 times the amount of time it usually takes me…just in general, no me time whatsoever. I was at my breaking point.
When I look to my husband, he still has the same workload but with additional stressors. Though he was able to take on communication with my oldest son’s teacher, contribute much of the cooking and continue with his usual responsibilities, all he could do was offer this advice:
“I’m doing more than I can handle, too. Maybe instead of figuring out how we can do more, we should both do less”
All bets are off now. T.V. is on early and often. We determined when this happened last week that the baby wasn’t going to the store
So my husband went instead today and got plenty of cereal and more heat-and-eat foods. I couldn’t be a perfect mom before and I definitely can’t in a crisis.
My Own Mental Health
This week, I did one at-home workout. It was almost successful.
My sprained ankle has healed so we’ve gone on more walks. We were able to distantly speak to neighbors and even took a brief hike today in our nearby open space.
I took advantage of a little bit of Daniel Tiger time to condition, stain and hang a board and hang some hooks from it.
And have been spending more time with the kids in the backyard
I also spent far less time on social media and more time writing, so I’ve been actively trying to keep my spirits up, and not just my kids’. You gotta put your own mask on first, after all.
Even with those mental health efforts…
I woke up last night hot (probably from wearing a long sleeved nightshirt in spring when the weather changes by 30° a day) and with a sore throat (probably from yelling at my child for lying, not my best moment–but we’re full disclosure over here) and afraid. My dreams were all about the pandemic. About hospitals. My granny, who has been deceased for years, was there. It was 3 a.m. and I couldn’t get back to sleep, worried it would be a matter of time before I could be the next statistic.
My worry isn’t unrealistic. In the town a mile and a half away from my house, there was a party before things got bad that the New York Times dubbed a “super-spread soirée“. A friend’s husband was very sick with a confirmed case of the coronavirus but has recovered. Another friend’s neighbor got very sick with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and passed.
What’s in store for the third week of social distancing?
- Checking my older son’s browser history
- Letting things go
- Fun, easygoing moments with the family
- Doing things for myself
- Enjoying one another
- Posts about things other than the pandemic
- Frequent news checking
- Social media
- Pressure to work on goals I had prior to the crisis
- Going to grocery store. We’ve gone once a week thus far but I’d like to limit it to even less.
I don’t know know how much longer life will look like this, but all I can do is take it day by day.