Hi there. I don’t know about you, but I am looking back at the last (how many has it been?) weeks of isolation, wondering how on earth I could have spent this much time at home and accomplished naught but a fraction of what I had thought I would achieve during this time. I was going to be creative. I was going to finish a pile of costuming UFO’s I have sitting in my sewing room. I was going to paint all of the rooms and unpack all of the unpacked boxes from our move. I was going to get my garden set up (I will, I swear!). I was going to solve all of the unsolved issues that all of the children are bumping into homeschooling-wise. I was going to teach the older kids to drive. I was going to wax my own eyebrows, and even bought the stuff to do it, since I can’t go to the salon.
I am here to report that the waxing kit has been sitting at the foot of the stairs for at least two weeks, and my eyebrows are out of control.
Instead, the bulk of this “downtime” has been spent making sure I get groceries organized and ordered, making sure there is nutritious food on the table (for most meals, anyway – sometimes, I fizzle out and they eat cereal.) Good Lord, cleaning up after all of us, nagging the kids to clean up after all of us, when we’re all at home together is… well, it’s a full time job.
Some days, just remembering to get dressed and wash my face seems like a lot of work. Why bother, when I can do the giant pile of charting, insurance billing, client emails and calls, ultrasound ordering, labwork reviewing, bookkeeping, taxes, etc., etc., etc., that is waiting for me every morning, in the comfort of my bathrobe?
TBH, I am writing this post in my bathrobe. I do plan to put on some clothes when I get up to start my “real” work at the close of this post, if only to feel human and productive.
“Productive”. This has been the theme word of my last several weeks. Perhaps even my last several years. “I need to be more productive.” “This is a great opportunity to be productive.” My family depends on my productivity, right? On my brain to keep working, keep planning, keep dreaming. My body to keep moving. Keep going.
Well, friends – I think this is just too much to ask of ourselves right now. I was talking to my sister the other day about how much online work she and her little children are having to do just to “not get behind” before the start of school in the fall. And her family is far from alone. So many people are having to scramble to keep their kids from “falling behind” in school, while also working from home in less than ideal conditions (or maybe they weren’t lucky enough to have a job to do at home, and have been laid off, and are financially insecure), while also keeping a house of people fed, a household managed, bodies clean. Don’t forget to wash your hands 70K times a day and keep your toddler’s fingers out of his nose.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it. I’m exhausted from all of this doing nothing for weeks on end. I think it’s high time to start cutting ourselves some slack. Our kids are not going to suffer from laying off of the schoolwork for a short period and focusing on finger painting or playing in the dirt in the backyard. In fact, I would argue that they will be better off living with parents who are not being driven to the brink of insanity by trying to learn common core. There. Are. Not. Enough. Hours. In. The. Day. for all of this.
Somehow, some way, we need to back ourselves up from all of these expectations. I’m not here with answers, because there is still a lot to do just to keep the machine rolling, but maybe all of the extra stuff can fall to the side. Maybe we should work on the things that bring us joy and order to our minds. Clean out a closet because it makes you feel good to be organized, not because you feel guilty that it is messy. Work on your garden because it feels good to have soil in your hands and watch things grow. And let the kids play. When have we ever had a better opportunity to let the kids figure out how to entertain themselves and pursue the interests of their growing brains? It’s golden. Let’s give them some hugs and release them to the backyard to find some bugs. Also, TV time should be guilt-free right now.
Hang in there, guys. Hey, in case you need this message – don’t forget to brush your teeth and eat breakfast this morning. I wish you a day of sitting in the sun on your back deck, sans bra, sipping coffee (with half and half in it – don’t worry about those two points). The birds sound really nice right now, and the trees are starting to bloom. You might need to take a Claritin, but seriously – for just a second, slow it down, and allow just a little bit of actual “downtime” during this downtime. That means: Rest. Watch a movie. Binge a show. Walk for pleasure and mental health. Slow yoga. Read a book. Make a bad sculpture with your kids. There are a whole lot of great things to do that won’t “produce” anything – except for maybe a little bit more peace.
PS: If you live in Denver, don’t forget to howl at the moon at 8:00 every night – it’s good for the soul.