That would be one way to describe these last six weeks. An utter, shit-show. One day I was helping my daughter plan her wedding. She and I were securing caterers, ordering cupcakes, and planning her departure from home. My youngest daughter had just started at her new school in late February after transitioning from online learning to a private school in our area. She was making friends and enjoying learning for the first time in months. I was finally seeing her smile and open up again after a year of struggles at her previous school. My son had celebrated his 16th birthday just a few weeks prior to the Safer at Home order here in Wisconsin, with 7 of his close friends sprawled all over my living room. He was eagerly awaiting my approval to begin drivers education and to start looking for work. My granddaughter was just learning to sit up on her own and she and I were enjoying our weekends while her mom was at work. My son in-law was counting the days until his graduation and homecoming on May 8th. Plans were in the making to go to Ft. Benning, Georgia where he is in training for the US Army. All of his hard work and sacrifice finally would pay off and his little family would be all together. But then, it stopped. Everything just stopped.
We stood frozen for what seemed like ages, trying to make sense of where we were going and what was happening around us. Schools were closing for who knows how long, work was now going to be done from our homes, grocery stores being wiped clean of essential items. I mean, come on, I have a kid who is lactose intolerant and loves cheese, you cannot buy out all of the toilet paper! Who does this? (Me, I should have done this). I was not completely out of the loop with the news and coronavirus. I followed as closely as I could the reports from all sources; however, for whatever reason, I believed we would be okay. We meaning my family, my friends, our country. I thought we had this. I mean, come on, we're the United States, surely a virus could not defeat us. I was naive and misinformed early on though still cautious. Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer became a staple for my family early on because regardless of how hard I have worked this past year to keep my shit together, I am still a ball of anxiety and fear. My biggest fear of course was for my children and my grandchild. Many of us with underlying health issues. Heart conditions, asthma, chiari malformation and then there is the baby. What did we really know about how this virus could effect her?
I went through several stages of complete chaos. I had my husband stay with my brother in an attempt to keep his germs away from all of us. We stopped eating take-out and I started to cook dinner every night. I began doing all of my shopping online with drive up services. I was diluting bleach and cleaning every square inch of the house, washing our groceries, disinfecting the mail...all of which I believe has been recommended, but not good for ones mental well-being. I was losing sleep, having nightmares, crying out of fear and frustration. Trying so hard to keep this virus from impacting my family. What it took me a few weeks to realize was that whether we become sick or not, we were all impacted. We had all stopped moving forward. We stopped planning, stopped looking forward to things. We were frozen. I was living in fear that this one thing could be what would defeat me as a mother. Realizing this, I made the decision to voice my fears less, to stop spraying so much bleach, to order pizza once in awhile and let my husband come back home (6 feet away). We are cautious, as cautious as we can be given we still have to meet the needs of our family. We are still scared. We are still grieving the loss of the memories that would have been. Celebrations, milestones, adventures, moments that we cant postpone, reschedule or ever get back. We are allowing ourselves to feel this grief without guilt.
So, where are we today? Well....I am working from home and making the best of the situation. I've set up a home office right next to my bed so my commute time has decreased immensely. I am remaining thankful I am able to still work and that I have a supportive team of people around me to lean on when things seem impossible. Even if it looks like the opening credits of the Brady Bunch when were all together in a Zoom meeting. My transition into becoming my children's principal, teacher, lunch lady, and custodian has been less of a positive change. My kids are staying up all night, sleeping all day, eating all of the snack foods like raccoons in the night. Homework is a struggle, no one is motivated and I find nearly all of our conversations start and end with, "Do your work." I am even beginning to annoy myself.
There has been some positive within all of this turmoil. We are all here, together, under the same roof. My kids, they laugh with one another, we play games, we watch shows, we talk. We're moving forward, a little less frozen in place each day. We remind one another we will get through this and that we will have the opportunity to make new memories and meet new milestones. We will celebrate achievements, and spend time with those we care about. We will have birthday parties that don't involve vehicle parades and honking horns. We will hug our grandparents, and snuggle with our grandchildren, watch our favorite teams play, and visit with friends again. This shit-show wont last forever. But, until then lets try to make it the best shit-show we possibly can.