Scattered Thoughts on My First Pandemic
I’m new to pandemics, and let me just say, I’m not a fan. Right? I’ll be honest with you, I spent the last 3+ years doing some intentional social distancing for a lot of reasons. I’m not saying that this pandemic is my fault, but I did very vocally declare 2020 to be the year I become more social. Sorry to jinx things! I had no idea the universe took me seriously.
Which reminds me….
What the hell is happening?
If I were to describe my thoughts these days it would be some kind of jumbled up inner monologue that ends with a voice saying, “What the hell is happening?” Because, whatever we are feeling in this situation, it’s not one constant thing. It keeps changing.
I’m no expert on the human condition, but I do know that there are two things human beings hate: Change, and uncertainty. Well, we are living in the midst of unprecedented change coupled with ongoing uncertainty. So, yeah, this is not our sweet spot as humans. We are in a swirling vortex of our own kryptonite.
This is why I’m feeling all over the place, unable to decide if I should be calm, worry like hell, choose optimism, be realistic, say inspiring stuff, be angry, make jokes, or just go for a good long cry in my closet. Hey, that last one is always a winner.
One minute, I’m super optimistic and truly believe that these next few weeks of being at home with my family will be full of sweet moments that might never have happened. That the incredibly hectic pace that we normally operate in will be replaced by some kind of pause and reset we didn’t even know we needed. That these days together will change the way we think about our lives for the better.
The next minute, I’m sure I will get divorced.
Seriously. Someone on Twitter said you can’t spell divorce without COVID and, holy hell, I’ve been haunted ever since.
The next minute, I’m earnestly thinking that I’m going to finally grow my nails out, learn to play the piano, make memes of my funniest blog lines that catapult into celebrity status, submit my novel to agents, and write a blog to book proposal for M.Blazoned. Seriously. I believe this might happen.
The next minute, I remember I have a job and three kids and this isn’t some extended romantic snowed in Hallmark movie situation where I can follow my dreams 24/7.
The next minute, I’m Julie McCoy, cruise director extraordinaire, planning inventive ways to keep my teenaged kids from losing their minds with games, movie list, family meditations, walks, TikTok challenges, dance parties, karaoke, and yoga. None of which they are interested in, by the way. I’m sure all our road trips and five people in one hotel room experiences have been training us for this very moment and we’ll be totally fine…have fun, even!
The next minute, I’m sure I won’t survive another hour with these people.
The next minute, I’m really worried. About us. About those more vulnerable health-wise. About waiters and small business owners and anyone with an hourly job and no paid sick leave and those without healthcare and those living paycheck to paycheck. I’m really, really worried for kids who have shitty families and school is their one safe place. I’m worried about anyone feeling lonely or depressed or anxious. I’m concerned about every doctor, nurse, technician and janitor. [Insert all the other situations I’m leaving out.]
The next minute, I realize we don’t have any flour and calculate our supply of eggs and milk and laundry detergent and worry I didn’t prepare well enough.
The next many minutes, I think, “What am I forgetting? What am I forgetting?” Repeat, infinity.
The next minute, I feel angry.
The next minute, I’m envisioning organizing my basement and closet and pantry and cabinets. Some kind of spring cleaning montage where woodland animals participate as I hum a pleasant tune.
The next minute, I feel tired.
You see, my role in the family is to make things fun, or okay, or better than they are. It’s just that this time, I’m feeling overwhelmed already. Maybe it’s because for the first time ever as a parent I can’t, with any certainty, reassure my kids of what to expect. Not a great feeling.
Look, I know this will pass. I know that we will likely be fine in terms of the virus itself. I know we are the lucky ones.
What I don’t know is how to give my senior in high school another prom or graduation. What I don’t know is how to possibly make that forever loss okay. I don’t know how I give my other daughter this semester back from college. Those precious four years go by far too fast to begin with. I don’t know how I keep my 7th grader engaged in learning and figure out how this is affecting him when he probably doesn’t know himself.
Do any of us know how to navigate this?
No. We don’t.
So, the only relief I can think of is that since this has never happened before, none of us know what the hell we are doing! It’s truly a level playing field that for the first time since Disney’s High School Musical makes me truly believe we are all in this together.
Since we don’t have the answers, what we can do is be there for each other. Check in on your friends. Be as kind and patient as you can be with your kids. Be generous with your money if you can be. Expect the bad moments. Hold onto the good ones. Get outside if possible. Exercise. Meditate. Block people who raise your blood pressure on social media. Get your old photos organized. I’m kidding. That’s impossible, and semi-sadistic.
My incredibly wise grandmother, Audrey, always said, “Life rows on, don’t drop your oars.” This sentiment is currently holding the mess of my pandemic laden mind together.
As life rows on, I’m going to keep hold of my oars and hopefully offer you some blogs and posts that might make you laugh or distract you for a minute or two. I might even dabble with some vlogs. LOL…right after I grow my nails and learn piano!
The days of this quarantine will pass. There will be sweet moments, giddy moments, and a whole host of unexpected reclaimed time with our kids we might never have experienced. There will also be moments we want to rant. Where depression sets in and our loneliness challenges us, where fear and pessimism might take hold. We will need each other.
Let’s promise to allow ourselves to be okay whatever we are feeling… from minute to minute.
Stay well! We got this. xoxo
You read my mind. Having a college junior, high school senior and 6th grader, I can relate completely! Thanks for sharing your gift of writing and wit.