Sunday, May 3, 2020

COVID-19 Scene

Quarantine ends, to some degree, today, on day 50.

My parents are coming over! We haven't seen them at all, except for the evening before Easter when they stood on our porch with bags for the kids and said hello through the window. Today I'm taking Neva for a mommy-date, and then we're doing a little switch-around, and she'll go home with my mom while my dad and I have my father-daughter birthday date. My birthday's in September, but our tradition is to wait until March. I suppose May will do! All I had wanted this year was to pick up Taco Bell and watch The Godfather with him at his house. And what do you know! Now that's all we could do anyway. Finally, we'll head back to my house and be a big happy family again.

Of course, I've been out of the house a few times. I've gone for groceries, I picked up the ducklings from the post office on Thursday, and I ran into Tractor Supply for their feed. I wonder how long it will be normal to strap on a mask before running into the store, or to call for revised store hours before heading out, or to wonder if what I need at the store will be there (if it's dishwasher detergent or flour, probably not). How long will it be before church reopens? Before we travel up north again? For heaven's sake - will I see all my grandparents alive again? I'm petrified to get them ill, and I'm sure they're worried about getting sick, too. Brian's grandma is 98, still living at home, glued to Fox News, and every week when I call her she regales me with the latest doom. Dogs are getting it now! It's just awful. All the kids are failing their grades; no one's passing. China's working on a new virus for this fall. Those people eat their pets!

I woke up this morning to a loud peeping of a duckling in the basement that had escaped her friends in the kiddie pool. After some half-asleep effort, I caught her, and let a frantic Bo outside while I refilled their dry water bowls. Mac and Neva came down soon afterward, all needs and questions, and the sun was streaming in through the windows and screens that took me all day to wash and install yesterday. I'm sitting here as they eat their breakfast, marveling about how nice it feels to have people and animals and a place to care for. I'd have assumed that after fifty days, I'd be anxious to get out of here, but I'm not.

I feel so strange admitting that, while the world has been falling apart, I've been having quite possibly the best time of my life. Not that my enjoyment hasn't been laced with anxiety about the events unfolding outside my door, or with discouragement over my own halted progress. I spent the first week after our return from the Grand Canyon feeling lower than low. Pajama-bound, exhausted, chocolate-eating, apathetic, and of course, terribly down on myself. What is WRONG with you??? One evening, all chilly, I took my temperature and discovered I was in fact sick. I expected to get worse, but the malaise continued at its moderate level for a few weeks, and it was so freaking nice to sleep in and not have anywhere to be. I hope I had COVID. But what this isolation has done is remove all the "community expectations" that I have internalized. I clean the house for us now, not because people are coming over. And guess what? I keep it clean, after all. I didn't need the pressure of hosting to make me a "better," cleaner person. I am working out regularly - for me - and eating what and when I want, because I am not worried about fitting into my Sunday dress or being beach-ready for Memorial Day. And surprisingly, as a result, I haven't been binge-eating or starving myself, and my weight is at a healthy place, and I'm really happy with myself. The kids are making great progress at home with their studies, and it's easier when I'm not carting them to LEGO class or swimming - gatherings that they didn't miss and were actually happy to avoid. And it's made me introspective about what I dread about going back to "real life" and what changes I need to make. And if I'm being honest, the changes I need to make are mostly in my mind, and what I assume people are expecting of me. I suppose I have discovered that, after all, I am okay. 

I have loved being home. I have loved having Brian working from home. We've been a happy family, doing projects on the house and playing board games. Yesterday, Barrett and Neva got along so nicely that Barrett told me he wanted to marry her when he grew up. 

Social media has been a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it has been tremendously relieving to hear that others are struggling with this quarantine - feeling apathetic about their long-term goals, experiencing anxiety and uncertainty, and coping with social distancing in many of the same ways. I downloaded Marco Polo and have been connecting with friends and family, and it has been amazing. On the other hand, seeing people post their obnoxious conspiracy theories frustrates me. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Yes, we are all simultaneously concerned about this pandemic's economic impact, threat to civil liberty, and unfortunate effect of non-COVID-related medical issues often going untreated while patients stay home. But we are living in an unprecedented time; pandemics are not a hoax. I sincerely wish people had a better grasp of how messy and complicated it is to compile reliable data during a global event like this. And while data comes in, gosh darn it - sit your butt down and keep the community safer. My two cents.

Of course, it is easy for me to say this. Brian is still employed, homeschooling is chugging along, and I'm feeling more rested and spending more quality time with my little family than I have in a long time, if not ever. But as the world outside is crumbling, I can't help but form my own opinions... and wish I was doing more to help.

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