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Life in the Time of a Pandemic

Wow, you guys. So…this is what a global pandemic feels like, eh? Not sure what I thought it’d be like, but I’m pretty sure I thought I’d be less stressed out and would definitely have eaten fewer quarantine snacks. But maybe I missed the memo on what a pandemic would really entail?

Anyway, let’s first get one thing out of the way: if you are sick, know someone who is sick, have lost your job or are worrying about losing your job during all of this, my love goes out to you and I’m so sorry.

Now the second thing I need to get out of the way is this: I do not find comparative suffering helpful. Comparing whether I have a right to be scared or angry or happy or stressed or any other feeling, compared to what someone else is going through during all of this, is really sort of useless. At best, it’s unhelpful to what any one of us is actually experiencing and feeling and only adds guilt on top of the rest of the feelings when we know that others have it worse.

Do not misinterpret this to mean I think you should not practice a shit ton of gratitude every chance you get. Comparative suffering is very different from gratitude. Gratitude is incredibly helpful at any given time, especially during a global pandemic, for example. But trying to figure out whether you deserve to feel how you’re actually feeling about your given situation because someone else might be more worthy of feeling something more than you, given their current situation, is just a really poor use of whatever energy you have left. You can have empathy, gratitude, and your feelings all at the same time. Humans are just fun like that.

So, let’s stop comparing whether we should be feeling a certain way about all of this and just embrace that we are, quite simply, feeling stuff.

For example, on any given day, I feel: frustrated, exhausted, anxious, stressed, and stab-y towards my family.

On any given day I also feel: joy, peace, gratitude, relief, and deep love towards my family.

I love that I’m getting to spend so much time with my kids. And also? It’s too much together time.

I love that I have a job that is flexible enough that I can work remotely and I’m incredibly grateful that my husband and I still have our jobs. And also? I am jealous of my co-workers who don’t have two little kids who can’t really be left to themselves for longer than maybe 30 minutes at any given time or, more accurately, refuse to be left to themselves for longer than maybe 30 minutes at any given time.

And so, I am working an average of maybe 3 hours a day – on a “good” day - instead of 7. And they’re fragmented hours with a distracted and tired mind. The work hasn’t lessened, but my time to do the work has. And so, feelings.

I love that we’re all, thank goodness, healthy. And also? Every time one of us coughs, I formulate a contingency plan for quarantining whichever family member has just coughed if this keeps up (like any rational person, obviously).

I love that the scariness of the world hasn’t seeped into the psyches of our kids, from what we can tell. And also? I’m nervous about what this is doing to all of our psyches that we may not even realize for quite some time.

I love that our calendars are completely empty for the first time in literally ever. And also? We miss our stuff. Our people. Our routines.

I love that we still have the ability to connect with our family and friends via technology. And also? It’s not the same.

Nothing is the same.

To be honest, for the first week or so, I was relatively upbeat about this whole thing. Look on the bright side, find the silver lining, keep laughing. And I still embrace all of that and we do laugh a lot each day, thank goodness…but I also can’t ignore the other stuff that has all become part of our “new normal.”

Like the fact that Ian and I have probably snapped at each other more in the last two weeks than we have in the last six months. That we’re both tired and stressed in a different way than our normal tired and stressed and we are figuring out how to manage that together and separately. We’re trying to find that elusive time with each other when all we have is time with each other…except not really. Because it’s interrupted, distracted time at the end of the day when we barely have enough energy to brush our teeth, let alone have a conversation about anything meaningful.

Thankfully, we’ve found moments, though fleeting, to check-in with one another and acknowledge how we’re both feeling, what we need from the other to get through the day, and can see through all of the heightened annoyances to remember that we’re in this together or these kids will burn this house to the ground and never look back. We’ve been able to laugh at the fact that we’re eating as if we’re about to hibernate for a prolonged winter and have resigned to the fact that we’re both a bit more on edge. We still high five sometimes when we just make it through another day, even if we don’t quite know what day it is. And we’re still a united front when those sneaky kids of ours sense weakness in one of us and think we’ll all of a sudden forget that, if we don’t stick together, they’ll become unbearable brats who still can’t totally wipe themselves without getting “itchy” or reach the shelves where we keep the good snacks.

But that’s not to say that we haven’t had moments of white-hot hate towards one another. Like, I never knew how loudly and annoyingly he breathed until he breathed around me all of the time. And there’s never been a better time than now for him to remember that my leadership skills really find their place to shine the most when I’m feeling anxious and out of control. For example.

And we’re not the only ones! The other day from the living room, I overheard Rauri say to her sister, “FIONA! Your foot is touching my leg and it’s been touching me all day.

So, you see, we’re feeling things. All four of us. Little feelings and big feelings. We’re bored and there’s not enough time in these never-ending days. We’re grateful and we’re scared. We’re relieved and we’re anxious. We’re happy and we’re sad.

We’re experiencing a global pandemic, you guys. We’re feeling things. And we’re feeling things while parenting and coupling. Shit’s not easy and that’s ok. And if you use me as your guide, which clearly you should, then tomorrow, I encourage you to spend whatever quiet time you do carve out for yourself to go and sit in a parked car in your driveway so that your kids and husband can’t find you eating chocolate chips out of your hoodie pocket and sipping on a glass of wine. Like the hero that you are.

You’ve got this, mama. One day, one moment, one quarantine snack at a time.

For the record, this is not proper social distancing.

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