Truthfully, I have hesitated to write about anything as it pertains to Coronavirus. It’s not because it isn’t on my mind. It is always on my mind. It’s because I try whole-heartedly to write about my life experiences and the experiences of vulnerable families that I have encountered, witnessed or had the pleasure to meet. I don’t like to take other people’s thoughts and make them my own, making assumptions gets everyone in trouble. Authenticity is everything and experiences are personal, singular.
With COVID 19, everyone is vulnerable and struggling with this virus in some way. And while each of us is living in the world together with lockdowns and shelters in place, how that affects our individual lives looks and feels very different. I believe honoring that is important.
The fact is, this Coronavirus has and will continue to affect us all, in ways that may be very clear now or might not be until we are farther removed from the pandemic. I can only speak to my very personal experiences so far.
I am struggling to be a full-time mother, preschool teacher, cook, playmate, and wife all at the same time. Confinement has never been in my wheelhouse and the word “mandatory” makes it even harder for me to comply. And having not left my house in weeks, as well as creating these expectations for myself to do everything perfectly has put me in a tailspin. Instead of just enjoying the time I’ve been given with Causby and Ellie, I’ve been viciously trying to make up for the lost time I never got with Charlie.
I have been frantically trying to do with his sisters, all the things we said, but never did. It has been another subconscious attempt to fill an unfillable void. The tree swing we never got for him to play on, just like the one at his Nana and Papaw’s house, arrived this week. And when I push Causby and Ellie, I can hear Charlie’s giggles, as they yell “higher, higher”. We have spent afternoons splashing in the creek behind our house, something we said we should always do with him, but never “fit in” because of Saturday errands and soccer games. And like it or not I’m teaching Ellie to read, a skill I was eager to help Charlie with. Every time she opens a new book, I think of Charlie doing the same thing, wishing I had had the opportunity to watch him learn to read.
During this quarantine, I have struggled to live for the children that are here, enjoying the time I get with them, instead of trying to fill a hole that will always and should always be there.
And to most, these struggles in a time of a pandemic seem like nothing. And they are to anyone but me. While I have had many self talks about taking deep breaths and debating how early it is appropriate to start drinking, we as a family are doing just fine. We have plenty of food, space to play and lots of time together.
But my point is, we are all in the thick of it, pivoting and changing as this pandemic unfolds. With every turn, we resist or give in. But we all struggle and as such it seems we should give one another the grace not to put our friends, neighbors or even our enemies’ individual woes on a spectrum from mild to severe. Each of us is dealing with something and it’s ok to share that with those who care about us, without fear of ridicule. No one has the authority to judge whose struggles are worse, who should complain less or whose concerns are not warranted.
So I encourage you to honor not only your struggles but also the struggles of those around you. FInd a way to lift each other up, share and laugh. Don’t place your neighbor’s feelings, concerns or worries on a spectrum. Instead, validate them. Because, in this time of so much uncertainty and unknown, we are all on a path we did not foresee and we need each other to come out of it on the other side.