It’s been six months. Six months of social distancing, working from home while juggling school work and summer vacation. Six months of mask wearing and following arrows in grocery stores. And, as yet, there is no real end in sight.
The world looks so very different than it did six months ago.
It’s hard to know where to begin, how to gather my thoughts and feelings on this strangest of times. How to express the chaos and the anxiety and the loneliness. Or, how to capture the wonder of the extra long breakfasts and snuggles on the sofa and evenings undisturbed by activities.
Sometimes the overwhelm of so much togetherness has reached crisis point, but on the flip side, this slower life has been a revelation.
I thought that this time of quarantine would give me the space to start writing again. That the lack of school runs and activities would create opportunities for all the other projects that were on my very long to do list.
I could not have predicted the increased mental load that it would bring. How it would suck all motivation from me, make it almost impossible to keep on top of the simplest of tasks, outside of work and school. How even those two necessities would be beyond difficult at times. How often there would be days when I would just give up.
When I look back at these last few months, there are moments that stand out. Six weeks into lockdown, when they announced that the schools would remain closed for the year. That was the first time I broke. Three kids birthdays’ celebrated in quarantine. My boys graduating from elementary and middle school remotely. When we found out that the kids return to school would be remote-only for at least the first month.
There have been days when I’ve struggled to find the light.
I have always tried to live life with an ‘it is what it is’ attitude, often all we can do is choose how we deal with a situation, and there is little use in choosing the negative path. But, ugh, this time? This time it’s been hard. I’m a solitary soul, I’m happy in my own company. But through all this, I’ve felt a jarring sense of dislocation. We have kept our bubble small. We have kept our distance. We have followed all the rules. It has been lonely, and it isn’t over!
There is no manual, there are no instructions for this.
Life in a pandemic is hard (as if that needs to be said), and although it hasn’t been all bad for us, there have been some good life and pace changes, it’s not helpful to ignore how difficult and stressful and emotionally grueling it is. The mental load of managing all the things and all the feelings, and holding it all together is exhausting. Is it any wonder that some days frustration and sadness and fear get the better of us?
In those moments where I’ve struggled most, I’ve reminded myself that there’s no right or wrong to any of this. I know I’m lucky in so many ways: we’re safe and healthy, and we’re together; but even knowing that, it is okay to feel sad, to feel a loss. To feel lost.
I know that we need to try and find moments of clarity in the chaos and uncertainty of life with Covid, as lockdowns ease, then tighten again, on repeat. To take time to reflect, reframe and shift perspective when needed. Even when it all seems overwhelming.
We need to be kind to each other, and to ourselves. We need to get through each day, and support each other along the way. We need to accept the things that we cannot change, and take each day as it comes.
The kids went back to school last week. Six months after walking out of school for the last time in March. But, they still didn’t get to walk back in. School will be remote for at least another month. And while I understand the safety concerns, and I am by nature risk averse, and certainly not reckless, I want my kids to be able to walk back into those buildings as soon as it’s safe to do so.
By the time they return to in-person teaching, assuming they do, they will have been out of school for seven months. I worry for them. I worry for their education (although, to be honest , that is the least of my worries right now), I worry about their mental health, I worry about their social-emotional well being. I worry about balancing remote schooling with my own work.
I worry. All the time.
But, ever pragmatic, it is what it is, and I will continue to juggle all the things, and all the feelings, for as long as I need to. I will continue to feel grateful, and sad. To feel hope, and despair; acceptance, and anger; thankful, and overwhelmed. I will continue to enjoy the good days, and accept the bad. I will support my kids, encourage them and listen to them. I will take a deep breath when they get frustrated and bicker and shout. And apologize when I do.
I will look forward to a time when we can look back, and talk about 2020 and all it threw at us, and taught us.
Because, what else can I do?