This spring has been slow and strange. Two months ago, we were easing into a new preschool routine and making plans for t-ball and family vacations. Then, COVID-19 hit, and I was suddenly balancing a full-time job and a part-time job with overtime mothering. At first, all of my mental energy went to logistical planning: How much can I actually accomplish with two young children at home? How do we limit our exposure as much as possible? How do we stay hopeful and loving toward others, instead of terrified and suspicious?
After that, though, it became: What activities should I set up for the girls while I’m working? Can I alter this recipe since the store was out of these ingredients? How do we reach out to loved ones while safely cocooning here?
And once we found that mark, it became easier. I’d only been working outside of our home for a few months prior to this, and we slid so easily back into our routines of being home all day. The girls sleep in, Adam runs our errands and picks up groceries, and aside from seeing a couple of family members who have also been staying home – the four of us have been home, together.
As an introverted homebody, this is really all I’ve wanted. I love hearing my girls’ belly-laughs over nonsense, acquiescing to the yell of “cuddle break!” at random times of the day, and witnessing their relationship strengthen from being in each other’s constant presence.
It’s because of this that – aside from the constant, nagging fear in the back of my mind and the utter strangeness of it all – I am happy. Is that awful to admit?
I am striving to balance this with a greater awareness of the world. It is often (admittedly, nowhere near always) in my mind that most of the world has so much less than we do, and COVID-19 has given this a starker contrast. By we, I don’t even mean the average of all Americans – I mean my own middle-class family. I know well that I am happy right now because of this middle-class privilege. I have a great job that has allowed me to work from home. We have access to what we need and more. So many, in this country and around the world, do not. Many cannot afford to stay home and stay safe, because that means going hungry. When the difference between feeding your family or not is risking your health to possibly contract a virus – wouldn’t you play the odds? Would there be a fair choice?
My happiness is tempered with anxiety, not for my own family for once, but for others. I worry about the children who are trapped in abusive homes for whom school was a safe haven. I worry about the single mother who is trying to maintain an income while daycare has been closed. I worry about the elderly who don’t have loved ones close by to check on them. I know, I am sure – we can’t yet see the other side, so there is still good to come. Beauty does come from ashes, but how many feet must be burned walking through to the other side?
I have a running prayer of gratitude that I follow throughout the day, tacking on new items here and there. I list things that I’m thankful for that might not normally make my prayers: the light through the trees, the fresh country air, the sound of my daughter humming a hymn, the sweet taste of fresh grapes. And I beg for continued safety, for help in making wise decisions. It feels like we’re walking a tightrope; one wrong move and we go crashing down, right through our precarious safety net into the unknown.
I don’t want to crash.
We have even more new ground to navigate in the near future. In our state, businesses and public areas are opening back up. How safe is it, really? I don’t know, yet. I only know that I can do my part to keep my family safe and that I’m lucky to be in that position. I will practice patience toward others and not let suspicion and indignation win out. I will keep praying: Thank you. Please.
This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series “Together, Apart.”