It’s been five full weeks.
Five weeks ago, we were supposed to be leaving for a trip to New Orleans. Justin had a conference and we were going to turn it into a little work + vacation getaway. I had been looking forward to it for months. But in the week before, things started to rapidly change. Talk of the coronavirus became more and more prevalent – it seemed like the only thing the news was covering. There was so much uncertainty, so much confusion about what this all would mean. I certainly didn’t know what to think about everything, but I could feel a rising sense of anxiety. It seemed like the entire country was collectively watching and holding our breaths, waiting to see what happened. Then over the course of a few days, everything started to stop. Events got cancelled, destinations closed down. Tom Hanks had a confirmed case. March Madness was moved to a fan-free event, then cancelled altogether. I’ll never forget watching ESPN when they ran the headline “The Day the Sports World Stopped.” It was just so surreal. Needless to say, Justin’s conference got moved to virtual presentations, out trip got cancelled, and life changed dramatically. Not only did we not go on vacation, but the era of social distancing began and I’ve barely left my house since.
It’s been 35 days since we’ve had anyone else inside our house. 35 days without our usual routine. No library. No weekly cycling class. No church services, no play dates, no date nights, no babysitters, no events, no get-togethers with friends, no family gatherings. The past 35 days have felt a little like a bizarre alternate universe. Like it can’t really be happening, and yet, it is.
Since I am a stay-at-home mom, it might seem like my life wouldn’t be that different these days, but it still is. Before the virus, we would typically leave the house at least once a day. It was rare to have a day fully at home and rarer still to have two in a row. It has been a huge adjustment to lose all our activities and have to entertain ourselves at home every day. Same toys, same house, same people – monotonous and relentless. And now I am “on” 24/7. LJ is 2.5 years old and Vi is 8 months. They are both in pretty needy stages of life and demand a lot of my attention. I miss the mental breaks I had while driving in the car or going to story time where activities to entertain my kid were already planned and we just needed to show up. I miss the gatherings for play dates and small groups where I could gain fulfillment in talking with other adults and LJ had socialization with other kids instead of relying on me for all his interactions. Justin works in healthcare and has actually picked up some shifts where they are short staffed, so this means less help for me at home. No babysitters, no grandparents, and less time with my husband home. I have felt exhausted. Overwhelmed. Discouraged. Isolated.
I’ve read many articles and listened to a few podcasts and one thing keeps coming up: the feeling that you’re feeling is grief. This deeply resonated with me. I feel like we are all grieving something right now. Big or small, everyone has lost something. People are grieving the loss of jobs. The loss of vacations. Athletes are grieving the loss of the seasons and tournaments they have worked so hard for. Seniors are grieving the loss of proms, graduations, and the time of their lives that is supposed to be a hopeful celebration. Couples are grieving weddings and honeymoons. Pregnant women are grieving the experiences they hoped they’d have: partners at the appointments, baby showers, gender reveals, family at the hospital, visits after the birth. Families are grieving the lost get together for Easter, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. People are grieving things that they have planned for and dreamed about for years. We are all hurting. We are all grieving the life we thought we would be living these past 35 days.
I know there is much to be grateful about. I do not take for granted the fact that my family has remained healthy so far. I am incredibly thankful for a safe place to stay at home, for the resources we have (reliable internet and utilities, enough food and supplies, etc) and for continued income from Justin’s job. My heart goes out to all who are hurting, whether from a loss of a loved one to the virus, loss of a job, or loss of stability in another way.
Another resounding message I’ve seen is this: you are allowed to be sad. While my losses may seem small in comparison to others, they were still loss. I think it’s possible, even necessary, to recognize the ways in which you are lucky while simultaneously acknowledging the ways in which you’re hurting. It’s okay to be disappointed. You can grieve and be grateful at the same time. It’s okay to just feel your feelings. It’s okay to not be okay.
It’s also okay to try to find the silver linings. I’ve seen an image re-posted many times that says “Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know there are better ones coming.” And there have been positives to this time at home. I have loved seeing all the stories shared on social media of drive by birthday parades and people clapping for essential workers. We get to see kindness spreading in the form of donations, handmade signs, homemade masks, and hundreds of other ways, both big and small. There is a global sense of “we’re in this together” that I’ve never seen before and it’s amazing and so encouraging.
There are also positives in my own life. I have had some really special moments at home with the kids that we might not have had if we were filling our days with activities. Vi is sleeping better than ever because our daytime schedule is so consistent. We’ve had the opportunity to slow down and focus on simple family time. Without other plans, Justin and LJ spend hours outside on the weekends and it’s been so awesome to see their bond deepen. Spending a peaceful evening watching them fish together while Vi and I rock on the porch swing will remain one of my fondest memories of this time at home. Vi started crawling and Justin and I were both home to get to witness it the first time. We’ve been able to use technology to stay connected to friends and family, and I would even say it’s brought us closer in some relationships because there is so much more intentional conversation.
When I thought about what I wanted to write today, I decided I just wanted to get my thoughts and feelings out there. I felt like it was important to document this time in history and I consider this post to be like a diary entry – a snapshot into how I’m feeling right now and a look at what this time has been like. The past 35 days have been surreal to say the least. I’m trying to stay positive, but allowing myself to feel sad when I need to. Some days feel almost normal. Some days feel hopeless and I want to cry. Our state’s stay-at-home order was supposed to end today but has been extended until May 1. We’re not sure when things will return to normal (or whatever our new normal will be).
I’m not sure what the next 35 days will hold, but I’m just trying to take things one day at a time. ❤