Friday, April 10, 2020

stream of consciousness from a quarantined working mom

There is a roller blade in the middle of our living room. Just one. Alone. Propped against the coffee table as though it's going to join in our next game of Clue. The coffee table itself is covered in a giant coloring map of the world, with markers strewn across. A taekwondo belt is in the middle of the floor, next to a pair of sun glasses. The box of Easter decorations sits nearby. Easter is on Sunday, three days from now, and the decorations are slowly being placed around the cluttered surfaces, one by one, by a bored family member.

Easter. The girls are worried that the Easter Bunny may have the corona virus, or may spread it if he comes in. And yet they still want it, and ask repeatedly, can we still do normal Easter? Just without the church and the big family dinner.

My to-do list grows by the day between my various work projects and keeping up with the family. Why does it seem so much harder to keep on top of it in our new reality? On paper we are home all day. Shouldn't it be easy to get through work, do laundry, keep up with the mess of the house and play with my kids? Doesn't my normal guilt come from the fact that I don't spend enough time with my kids. Now we are together, day in and day out. Just, with a door and a stop sign between us as I try to work and balance their needs.

Advice is everywhere, from everyone.

Cherish these moments with your children. These are the moments they'll remember when they are older - the ones where you connected with them. Let them as much TV as they want - let them indulge and they'll remember how great that was too. Make a home-school schedule (don't see too many of those out there anymore, do you?) Learn something new. Start a new project. Plan ahead for next year. Deep clean the house. Practice self-care. Manage your emotions. Breath. Wash your hands. Don't watch the news. Limit your social media. But watch enough to make sure you are learning all the advice everyone else wants to share.

When this first started, I filled my days between work and my girls. I knew I needed to stay busy, so I made sure I was. Now, I'm starting to realize the busy-ness was simply masking panic - like reorganizing the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. That's great, but what I need is to slow down enough to listen to my body and to listen to what I need.

I need an uncluttered house. A moment to dive into the deep work that drives me. I need to snuggle with my girls. Take deep breaths. I need my commute where I spent time in deep thought and listened to audiobooks and podcasts that intellectually challenged me. I need time to check facebook without feeling guilty that I'm not working, connecting with my kids, my husband, my extended family, or friends. I need permission to just be.

We all need to grieve. Be able to stand up and say "this sucks". Recognize that we are going through a grief process that no amount of creativity, organization, productivity and positive memes will mask. We've lost the world as we knew it, and that's quite a blow. We need to be able to sit with that. Not wallow in it, but sit with it. Sitting with it, naming it, talking to it, will all help us identify what we need instead of pushing it down and ignoring what is pulling at us.

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