Safety Net

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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? 

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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?

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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.  
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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.”

The Girls, Currently: Vol II

Annie (almost 5): Says “losing” instead of “using,” asks really complicated questions about how we’ll get to Heaven right before bedtime, is my mini-me in nearly every aspect of her type A personality, will reliably eat only a cheeseburger with fries – all other meals are quite strongly negotiated, loves her pre-K program, still holds onto Bunny most waking moments and all sleeping ones, can write her alphabet and spell our names – though she usually forgets when mine stops and writes “mamama,” and loves reminding Lucy about the rules.
Lucy (newly 3): Uses a made-up word, “binga,” as a sub-word for something she doesn’t know – when I forgot to put dressing on her salad, she said “Mom, you forgot the binga!”, shows no fear of conquering physical obstacles but bursts into tears when being introduced to new people, has a logical solution for any problem presented, is starting to draw our portraits – darling scribbles of giant heads and long legs, will go to her room to scream into a pillow when she’s been wronged, and loves blatantly disobeying Annie and her rules.
Just a quick update, so I can look back and remember these little and wonderful things. 

The Girls, Currently

Annie (almost 4!): is doing great in her preschool program one day a week, loves dressing up and imaginative play of all sorts, is turning into the best little guide/helper/encourager for Lucy, is starting to show interest in reading and spelling, is still too little to watch Hercules (good try, Mama), practices caution in interacting with others, and still says her name is “Anniebelle Jane Warnen.” 


Lucy (almost 2!): speaks in full sentences about half of the time, wraps me up in the tightest hugs, loves to aggravate Annie but would follow her to the ends of the Earth, has great problem-solving skills, is becoming a very picky eater, is obsessed with Trolls, often treats us all like peasants (Adam says she just tolerates us), but will still stop what she’s doing several times a day, come to me, and say “I need hugs” or “you want a kiss?” or “can me hold you, Mama?” 



Mama: trying to become a seasonal decorator and failing again (a few scattered pumpkins are sufficient, right), survived Adam being on Whole30 and even adapted to continue eating a few Whole30 meals each week after it was over, writing a master’s! thesis! on Cherokee women as storytellers, writing about motherhood, and really looking forward to mashed potatoes and the dessert table on Thanksgiving.

Currently

Oklahoma sunsets can’t be beat.


Watching: ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. I realize these came out a couple of years ago, but we don’t have cable so we didn’t see them when they originally aired. I got the set for Adam for his birthday, and we’ve really been enjoying seeing some of the lesser known sports stories told. 

Eating: potato soup, nonstop. I know it’s summer, but I recently rekindled my love for potato soup and I. Can’t. Stop.

Hoping: that I can convince Adam to take me to the Cheesecake Factory this weekend for a late birthday dinner. Neither of us actually had cake on our birthdays (which were both within the last week), so I feel like that warrants a cheesecake trip. Right?

Loving: having a quiet evening here and there. We’ve been so busy lately that it’s kind of nice to just stay at home and do nothing for a little while.

Reading: the Harry Potter series. I read them every summer. And every time I read them, my heart swells a little more with love for the story and its characters. I am starting Order of the Phoenix this evening and already dreading losing Sirius. (Oh, my heart!)


Looking forward to: seeing the photos from our anniversary shoot with Megan and J.D. last night! I know they’re going to be fantastic. Thanks for shooting in muggy Oklahoma weather, y’all. 

Feeling thankful for: seeing so much of my friends lately. I am friends with some pretty special people. 
Thanks to Danielle for the inspiration for these Currently posts! Be sure to leave me a comment if you write your ow; I’d love to see it! J Have a great weekend. 

Love, Bekah


Currently

Watching: The Voice! We have about 7-8 channels, because we live too far out for regular cable and we just don’t watch enough TV to justify spending outrageous amounts on satellite service. So, we get the basics – NBC, CBS,  ABC, etc.. Plus great channels like OETA! Also, no DVR. All that to say, we mostly watch TV when we happen to catch a show we like. I am loving The Voice this season, so I’ve been somewhat making an effort to watch it regularly. This week will be the finale, and I’m so excited to see who wins. I’m totally pulling for The Swon Brothers. Any other Voice fans out there? Who are you rooting for?
Eating: Mexican food. I’m actually writing this on my lunch break, and today I was kind of dying for Mexican food. So of course I went to El Azteca, an amazing little place close to where I work, and got the chicken and rice plate to go! So yummy.

Hoping: that I can get caught up on laundry this evening so I can enjoy the rest of my evenings this week! I am always amazed at the amount of laundry two people can produce. 

Loving: my ornery dogs. I was away this weekend and missed them terribly! Their beagle noses get them  into a lot of trouble, but then they wag their little tails and I can’t help but forgive them.

Reading: nothing, yet. I just finished re-reading Wuthering Heights. I love that story. I always forget how insane all the characters are in their own, proper sort of way. I read the Harry Potter books every year, so those might be next, but I am thinking of finally reading the Lord of the Rings series for the first time. I hear they are tough to get through, but very worth it! I think I can handle them. 😉 Thoughts?


Looking forward to: having a couple of days off next week. Adam and I have tickets to see The Lion King musical at the TPAC, and I’m so excited! 

Feeling thankful for: the time I got to spend with my family this weekend. A few of us went to Dallas (more on that later!), and it was so good to spend a couple of days together.

Thanks to Danielle for the inspiration for these Currently posts! Be sure to leave me a comment if you write your own. J Have a great week! 

Love, Bekah