Pondering a Pandemic

When I carefully planned out my blog for 2020 I didn't save a slot for a pandemic. I didn't save a spot for social distancing and quarantine parenting advice. I didn't save a spot for advice on how to teach your children at home and prevent the Covid-19 slide. I didn't save a spot for how to keep your children mentally healthy while there is a Shelter In Place. I didn't save a spot for how to parent during a pandemic when you have an anxiety disorder and didn't save a spot for how to parent your child who has disabilities and mental illness when all of your routine has been shattered.

Though here we are. We're home, indefinitely. Many of us trying to juggle work and child care together, and many of us have already lost our jobs.

They say that you really see the true character of people when life is at its worst. I've seen that many times this past six months. Once when I was laid off from a job. With no prompting my whole community found me on the phone, on text, on facebook, Instagram, linkedin, email, the grocery store, through my mom, through a friend, through a sibling to tell me that my work had been meaningful to them, that I had made a true difference and would be missed.

A month into my job search, I decided to dive head first into starting a small business and I launched FAAB. Once again I was held up by the community I grew up in. The coffee was flowing and everyone wanted to help.

Five months after its launch I was on track to have a strong month. I had 10 workshops planned and selling, I was working with amazing families, I was adding schools to my consulting list daily. Covid-19 came in, uninvited, and the world as we all knew it halted to a stop.

I've sat back and watched the past 10 days unfold. I've tried to take every day an hour at a time, I've tried not to wonder who would get sick? Who would recover easily? When would my kids be able to go back to school? When could I relaunch my company?

I've watched my small business mentors provide free yoga, free dance, free art, free music, free connection and free distraction. I jumped on facebook and instagram live and talked with parents to share my ideas, not professing to be an expert on pandemic parenting because that doesn't exist. However I'm certainly a person who knows that behavior is communication and my kids would carefully be observing mine and me theirs.

I've wondered if this could have been more contained. I've been angry. I thought about my beliefs. I've always had trouble with God, but definitely believe in a force bigger than myself. I believe that things happen for a reason. I've seen positives in the past ten days. Temples, churches, schools, camps, small business, artists... all giving freely of themselves to bring joy. Parents kindly sharing ideas online with no parenting judgement. Neighbors saying hi as we walk the neighborhood streets and respectfully moving to the side so we can all keep our six feet apart.

Today I got in my car for the first time in 20 days. I drove to my brother's house to drop off some supplies on the porch. The world looked the same. There were less cars, the schools were empty, the playgrounds were empty, the parking lots were empty. But it looked the same. I found myself thinking about all the past 20 days has taught me. Tonight, I'm going to do a workshop about Parenting Through a Pandemic. What do I want to teach? Yes, I have many ideas to get through the day and perhaps even enjoy it with our loved ones, more than I had when I started this blog 10 days ago. However, I don't want to add to any parental pressure. Some moms (and dads) are working their "normal" 9-5 or 8-6, and need to for various reasons. They need a "get by" schedule to keep their kids happy and quiet. They are wiped by dinner and may not have anything instagram worthy to post. That is ok, it's more than ok. I don't want anyone to feel less than, especially now. It occurred to me that the best way to explain what is happening to us, is that our country, our world, is at war. We are at war with a virus. Our health care workers -- medical and mental health -- are our soldiers. They are working overtime physically and emotionally to battle. They are making quick, life-altering decisions and I am so proud of all of them, especially the ones I know well. What are the rest of us doing? We are fighting a war within ourselves. To stay calm. To create calm in our homes. To create memories wrapped in warmth and fun instead of fear and trauma. We are consoling our toddlers, our kids, our teens, our college students and our young adults for all of their losses. We are consoling ourselves as our businesses fade away, dreams on pause. We are fighting for breath, whether it's in a hospital or because our own mind has misfired and feels like we can't take in the next one.

So what am I doing today, now and tomorrow? I'm thinking small. What do my kids need to know in this moment? What do I need now, can I have this feeling, thought or emotion or should I put it on pause, giving myself time to have it later in a moment of quiet? I'm making split second decisions and I won't turn back because I know they are enough. I'm giving hugs as much for the kids as I am for me. I'm posting ideas because I know they bring me joy when I have a moment of fun with my kids. I am helping in the way I am able. I allowed myself to take the worry about home learning off my list. Yes, I am doing it. For us it helps to pass the time, for me it's an area I'm comfortable in. For us it's part of mental wellness. I'm taking my medicine. I'm drinking my water, which I hate. I'm going outside every day. I don't always want to, but I'm prescribing it. I'm walking or moving daily, again it's prescribed by me, it's keeping me whole. I'm reading, I'm writing, I'm watching the world. I feel comfort that we are all in this war together, all of us. Together the world will heal.