I think it just hit me—for real—yesterday, that this coronavirus quarantine life is the new reality for a while.
I think it just hit me hard because the adrenaline of preparing and protecting my family has waned.
I think it just hit me that I already miss my family.
I cried watching my mother-in-law read books to my kiddos over FaceTime. I cried after we had a group Zoom call with my four siblings and our parents to celebrate St. Patrick's Day together. I cried while making dinner, baking Irish soda bread, editing an essay, washing dishes and making a waffle for my child (just to make them stop asking for the waffle—even though I was cooking dinner).
(To be fair though, I am in the crying stage of my cycle.)
Because I won't be going to the place that's been helping me so much lately—to my favorite workout studio.
I won't be "running out to the store" when my husband gets home, so I can have a quick break.
I won't be listening to a podcast on the way to drop my kindergartener off at school.
I won't be meeting my girlfriend for a movie or going out to dinner for date night with my husband.
I won't be taking my kids to the good jungle gym in town as the weather perks up around us.
I won't be taking the time to write in solace, by myself, at my local coffee shop on Sundays.
Parties have been canceled, big and small. For all different types of celebrations. I cry for those postponing their weddings, or the seniors in high school realizing prom and graduation might not happen. I couldn't imagine not getting to return to my friends in college after spring break our last year together.
I didn't have many "big" plans coming up pre-social distancing—no book tour canceled, no concerts canceled, no flights or cruises or events, really. But yesterday it sank in, deep. This isn't pretend. This isn't a snow day from school. This is a new normal.
I won't be getting a break. I won't have many choices of places to escape to in our 1,200-foot home. I won't be able to leave (except for walks or a drive, maybe). It's only been a few days and I'm already feeling—I hate to say it, but—a little trapped. Everyone needs me. Everyone is touching me. There is nowhere to hide.
I was okay with the staying home mandate at first—I'm an introvert who really enjoys staying home, after all!—but now that I'm told to stay home, I am regressing into toddlerhood, I guess, and feel like I'd like to go out.
What is this life right now?
Yesterday was basically—work, chug coffee, answer emails, answer questions from children, make them breakfast, get those books to read to them, set up circle time, do work while they do yoga, do circle time, say "no" to candy requests, do work, get them outside, do work, back inside, eat something so I don't pass out, curb the fighting, say "no" to candy requests, put dinner in the crockpot, school work, say "yes" to the candy requests, do work, stop the whining, set up the coloring, answer questions, do work…
...find the link to the free virtual thing, FaceTime family, think about working out but don't, back to work, lunch, more coffee, cut the crust—you forgot, math work (?), do work, tidy up, get outside, breathe, back inside, clean up, make dinner, break up fights, marvel at their drawings, "no candy, almost dinner," do work, eat dinner, clean up, bath, wrangling, books, songs, prayers, go-to-sleep begging, lay down with them and pass out, wake up confused, anxiety, food, tea, food, bed.
My mental load was already heavy pre-quarantine, but now I feel like I'm being tested.
How much weight can you hold, mama?
Well, I already know I cannot hold the 'homeschool perfectly, get all my work done immediately, exercise at home constantly, eat clean all day, meltdown-free (while at home with four other people 24-7)' lifestyle.
Because like I realized earlier—this is a new normal. It's new! It's brand new! We can't expect to be used to it immediately. It's going to take time. And, right now, we have plenty of it, it seems.
This is a reminder to me just as much as it is to you—be patient with yourself. Be patient with your family. Be patient with each other. Be patient with the process.
And do what you need to do to stay okay. To make sure you're family is okay. And to try your best to have some fun while doing it. We're right here with you, mama.