I’m sure your days are strange, like mine. The seasons are changing and there are activities and events that have historically occurred at this time of year that is not happening and it’s a bit weird. In the beginning of this pandemic, I woke up each day in a sort of haze in which I was slow to remember this fog of uncertainty and fear that was surrounding us. There was no way of knowing when the fog would lift and each day the fog remained. I don’t feel that way anymore. Perhaps I’ve found a new normal or maybe the experience is less novel with each passing day so it’s less daunting and heavy. The days aren’t necessarily anymore clear than they were in those first foggy weeks, but something has shifted. I can summarize my current status with these three words: computers, compost, and coffee. Let me explain.
I find myself on one of a number of computers for far too many hours five days a week – the work/school week. Of course, I used a computer while I worked on-site, in a school building, but not to the degree I do now. Every interaction I have with another human outside of my house occurs on a computer. All of those meetings I am accustomed to attending each workday? Those are still happening, but instead of in a room with those individuals, we meet up in Brady Bunch style squares on a computer screen. I’m even teaching a yoga class every week that occurs in this same format. All of those humans are so close, yet so far away. However, the humans in my house? They are closer than ever. All-day. Every day. Also on their own computers. So many computers to interact with, it seems a bit abnormal or akin to a science fiction novel.
Having our own children closer than ever every day is surely an opportunity! Yes, I like to think so. I have to wonder about all the other people that are raising children during this time and what ages might be the easiest to be parenting through a pandemic. I am not sure there is a clear answer. The youngest children won’t likely remember this and if you’re home with them, they are likely benefiting from being out of daycare and away from all the illnesses that breed there anyway. Children that are in elementary school definitely benefit from the structure of the school day (don’t we all?) and having those nurturing teachers in their lives. I think the elementary-aged children will remember this and are probably the most confused of us all right now. Especially if they are accustomed to playing with their friends in the neighborhood and you’re trying to explain that there is this invisible, deadly force that could be lurking anywhere and we need to keep our distance from our friends and family members that reside outside our house. I can only imagine what those brains of theirs are processing about this right now. Middle school and high school children definitely don’t like this at all. It is messing with all of their extracurricular activities and access to friends. They are more independent and likely to handle the school obligations with much more ease than their younger siblings. However, being the parent and enforcing even more boundaries and restrictions in their lives than previously?! Fun times.
All of those parenting woes aside, I do really like that I’m seeing more of my kids than I can ever remember and that they are seemingly more tolerant each day of seeing more of us too. I think they are realizing that we are a cohesive unit that is going to make it through this strangeness together. There is strength in numbers.
Now, on to the garden. Compost. I like to get into the dirt this time of year and plant flowers and vegetables. We have a compost bin that we utilize, but it takes forever for it to actually break down into something we can use. I collect as much as I can and turn the compost bin regularly (but of course did not during the winter when it was much too far from the house and lots of cold and snow separated us), so I’m reminding myself to be patient. Compost will do that. It teaches you that the earth with take back and regenerate what came from it before, in a slow deliberate process. I am reminded of this process too when I pull at the dirt and expose the earthworms hard at work. Can you imagine having their job? The patience and diligence of breaking down and regeneration is something to be admired and be mindful of every spring. I am especially paying attention to this now, in all its wonder. I think a pandemic has you look at everything around you a little differently with slightly more appreciation for representations of health and vitality. Life is a beautiful dance and quite magical really.
Finally, coffee. Coffee is the stand-in for pause. Before I started working from home, I would either take my coffee with me to work in a thermos or drink it hastily with my breakfast. Now, I sip, observe, ponder, sip again, and take note of any subtle differences in how it tastes today compared to yesterday. Then I refill and do it all again. I am not rushed in the morning. I have a few standing meetings that occur at 8:10, but I do not need to run out of my house to drop kids off at school, navigate traffic, and a parking spot, to arrive on time. I walk down the stairs at 8:08 and arrive safely and promptly in my box on the screen at 8:10. I even have the added benefit of having sketchy wi-fi to blame if I am unable to log in right on time. Everyone understands this since we have all had the opportunity to experience the side effects of internet overuse in our homes with kids doing their school accessing the internet and adults doing their work using the same internet. It can be quite sluggish at times and I just shrug my shoulders and have another sip of coffee. I’m not going anywhere, so I’ll just wait. This is a pause I’ve grown more accustomed to over the last several weeks. I quite enjoy it.
There are many things I miss right now and am sure to miss in the weeks and months to come, but I am trying to view this strangeness as an opportunity rather than a burden. I balance what news I read and what I absorb from others that are also doing their best to manage their life’s changes right now. None of this is easy and I am certainly aware that there are many people that are experiencing harsh realities and struggles. There will always be struggles and pain. There will always be discomfort and changes we don’t agree with or wouldn’t choose if we could. Life continues on, just as it has in the past and will into the future. We’ve been given some time right now to slow down, learn, and gather up fortitude for the journey ahead. We will certainly never be the same and maybe that’s the point.
Stay well my friends!