I don’t write much anymore. I find that I am very busy with school, work, raising a teenager, and other duties that come up. Plus, I am not even sure what to say any more. Look around and you will find mom blogs by the thousands. Each one with their own anecdotes, advice, humor or even sadness. Where does mine fit in? Did I mention how busy I am? From 5:30am to 10pm I feel like it is non-stop go-go-go. Exercise, get the kid up, get him out the door, get ready for work, work, go home, homework with kid, homework for me, make dinner, clean up dinner, get the kid to bed, go to bed…rinse and repeat. It seems like life is just a roller coaster hell bent on hurdling you through the ride without giving you one moment to just pause and take a deep breath. Even during vacations – packing, traveling, check in, eating, sight seeing, day adventures, blah blah…it goes on and on. When you get back you feel more exhausted sometimes.
Then something horrid happened. The world stopped. Okay not the actual world, but the people. The people stopped. We had to. For the sake ourselves, our families, our elderly, our immune compromised, for the safety and wellbeing of our health care workers, we had to stop. We stopped going to school, we stopped going to work, we stopped shopping and vacationing, we just freaking stopped. The first we few weeks were…weird. What do we do? Let’s keep things as normal as possible and keep to a schedule. Zoom meetings for work, daily agenda to keep kid active in school, bake banana bread because that is what Chrissy Teigen told us to do… …keep exercising and going for walks. Then, the work stopped too. The Zoom meetings ended. The daily phone calls with co-workers…ended.
How do you run a museum when there is no one coming in? If you are the office coordinator, how do you work without an office to coordinate. Eventually, full unemployment happened and then it was like….
Now, each day is pretty much the same as the one before. Oh look, Tuesday! What is different about Tuesday than any other day? Not a damn thing. The things you look forward to are vastly different than what they once were. I used to look forward to that commute between work and home. It meant a few minutes of peace and quiet, maybe some gangster rap. Sometimes I would do some quick errands on my way home. You know, living the life.
Now I look forward to other things. Gov. Cuomo’s press conferences.
Birds coming to my bird feeder. The timer of the oven signaling the completion of another baked good. The dryer going off so I can switch the laundry.
Holy hell!! Is that the mail truck? Holy chicken nuggets mail has never been more exciting.
But, all joking aside. One day is literally the same as the other one. With slight variations as to how you are going to spend your day. I have a list of tasks that I keep that allow me to fake some productivity, make me feel somewhat accomplished. But even those tasks are starting to dwindle. I am one week a way from chopping my hair off circa Spears ‘07.
Parenting is fun during this too. I have always known that my kid would do better in a smaller group setting or being homeschooled. His grades have gone from alarming to astounding during this time. (And yes he is definitely doing the work). He just now has his aunt and I tutoring on everything from Math to Social Studies. (Huge plug here for auntie and her amazing math skills. I still can’t even pronounce Pythagorean theorem, but she was able to get Cody to understand it and do well on the test).
It is more than just homeschooling though. It is parenting during a pandemic. I am stressed out because I lost my job and I am not sure when (if ever) I am going back. Unemployment is thankfully, covering expenses for the moment, but what happens in July? My sister is freaked out because the great state of New York has determined that it doesn’t mater how much you make or how many hours you work, it only matters how many days you work. And it doesn’t matter if you worked just one hour in that day, you are considered to have worked that day. So, since she lost her full time (read the job that paid the majority of her bills), but still maintains a part time job, she doesn’t qualify for unemployment. Ergo, major stress and frustration. She is better off than some, and I will get to that in a second, but still, it is stressful. So two people are unemployed, there is a shortage of meat, toilet paper… flour for goodness sake, and I have fibromyalgia, migraines and anxiety. (not to mention the normal stress that is life…then add to that the stress of wondering if today you will show symptoms, if one of your loved ones will, this pandemic is anything but a “pause”.
Then, you have your kids…
Think of this. These kids grew up during lockdowns. They grew up during the era of school shootings. Our kids are tougher than we ever were, and yet this is something no one could have prepared them for. A complete and total disruption of their entire life. No more sports, no more friends coming over, no more school, no concerts, no take out, no movies, no bowling. Nothing. Add to that stress that you are feeling from your family AND teenage hormones, and you have a bomb ready to go off at any moment. To which, my son has. One minute he is getting himself as snack and the next he is crying (literally from the couch to the pantry), or having an outburst with no preamble what so ever. I believe this could have happened without everything going on, but I also believe that this has definitely exasperated it. What is a parent to do? Except hug them and tell them that everything will be okay.
Eventually everything will be okay. 2020 will pass and 2021 will come with a new set of things to deal with. Our kids will go back to school and we will go back to work. Eventually everything will be okay. It won’t go back to the way that it was, but it will be okay. For right now though, it is hard and it is hard for a lot of people. This isn’t a pause for some people. This isn’t a time to learn a new baking hack, or sew face masks, or learn origami, this is a time of hunger, worry, stress, pain, panic, and sadness. For others, it is a time of fear, depression, anxiety, and darkness. Over 30 million people are unemployed right now. Most people were one paycheck away from financial disaster. One. They have now missed as much as three months. Yes, the stimulus packages have helped, yes the extra 600 for unemployment has helped, but for some it hasn’t been enough. Yes, telling landlords they can’t kick out their tenants has been nice, yes the mortgage companies hauling interest has been great. But it hasn’t been enough for some. Some people are literally going hungry. Some people can’t afford to stockpile toilet paper and flour. Some people don’t have the luxury of sitting at home thinking up a new hobby. Some people are living in fear. What this pandemic has done has shed light on a huge vast divide of the haves and the have nots. celebrities are getting a lot of flack from complaining about being held ‘prisoners’ in their mansions. People are celebrating the closure of schools while others are concerned about what that means when they eventually do go back to work. Some children’s only safety, shelter and food comes from the public school system. What about those parents? What about the parents who are worse off than I am or can imagine to be? My son has two people home with him every day, he has two people helping with school work, two people bravely showing him that everything is okay. Some kids aren’t as fortunate and it is tragic. My heart breaks for them and their families.
While I am beyond thankful that my family is safe, well fed, has access to the internet for continued learning and entertainment, many families do not. For many families, this isn’t a pause but it is a break. It is break in their normal lives however fragile they were holding that together. Some people will have a very hard time coming back from this. Some people will be in debt for years because of it. Some people will not make it. This is fact that keeps me up at night.
I love that the lakes are clear, that the sky is blue, that people are spending time with their families and able to breathe for a second. I know we all wished for that. But, I am scared and trying to parent a teenager during times that unbelievable and unimaginable. I am mourning the loss of milestones that we thought he would do, moving up ceremonies, touring the high school, field trips, museum visits. I am thankful we are privileged enough to be okay staying home, that we are educated enough to help him through the rest of his school year. I am sad that he can’t spend time with his friends. I am worried about his future. I am grateful no one I know has died from this awful disease and am hopeful that no one does. I grieve for those who have lost loved ones while they watch others protest about being forced to stay home.
If this has taught us anything it is that we are all at mercy of nature. Plague doesn’t care if you are white or black, rich or poor, religious or atheist. We are all humans and we are all in this together. If you can’t get food, medical supplies, or anything else that you need to survive this, please reach out to the community organizations that have been set up. This is no time for pride. If you are doing okay and can give even a little, please find community organizations that are being set up and donate to them. Let’s show our kids kindness during this pandemic, lets show them compassion, lets keep our sense of humor and lets learn together what the new normal will be. Let’s parent during the pandemic together and together we will get through this.