“Before we can recover, we must survive.” That’s what Governor Tom Wolf said recently during a virtual press conference regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
That’s pretty intense, right?! I repeated those words a couple of times in my head, struck by the solemnity of what they suggested. It’s 2020! Global pandemics and threats to humanity are so 1918! Right? RIGHT?!
Like many others who have children and full-time jobs, my family and I now spend our days at schwome (school-work-home). We live here, we work here, our child goes to school here. My husband and I tag team playing with and teaching our son so we can balance distance learning as well as distance working.
Do we know what we’re doing? Nope. Does anyone? Probably not. I think it’s safe to say we’re all more or less grappling with pinches and dashes of worry, fear, loneliness, frustration, sadness and plain old uncertainty. My heart aches for those who are sick and alone or who do not have a safe space to be in. My brain is pained when I think of my parents who still must go out to work every day and how I miss being in their company and in my sister’s.
It is not lost on me that I come from a place of privilege. My husband and I are fortunate to be able to keep our jobs while remaining in the safety of our home. Additionally, none of my loved ones have contracted the virus (knock on wood), I don’t have a loved one suffering alone, I can communicate with people by computer or by phone, and I can enjoy the comic relief and comfort of a solidaristic COVID-19 meme or Facebook post. One thing that has struck me about our shared predicament is how remarkably adaptable we are. We don’t have much of a choice, but it’s incredible how we bend and curve and twist … how we rise to the occasion even if our hearts are racing and our voices are shaking. From pandemics to situational or environmental changes, we adapt and we craft our new normal. The horizon might be murky, and we might feel discouraged, but we can take comfort in knowing we’re not alone. There’s always at least one person who can either relate to our experience or who will try to understand our experience.
In the meantime, if you’re making paper airplanes and blowing bubbles in your shoebox-sized backyard with your five-year-old … researching crafts online and feeling really proud for making puffy chalk out of flour, water, dish soap and food coloring … using that puffy chalk on the sidewalk in front of your house and wondering if your neighbors think it’s an eyesore … if you’re skipping a shower or two … watching a little too much television … washing more dishes than ever before … blurring your day clothes with your night clothes … preparing yourself for your true hair color to emerge … wondering how it will be emotionally when your child eventually goes back to school and you will suddenly be apart – like maternity leave coming to an end all over again … I see you and I’m with you. Here’s to rolling with the punches … survival and recovery style.