Life During COVID-19: A Journal Entry
I figured I might as well officially document some of my thoughts on this experience here on my blog. I mean, I did document the planning, conception and birth of my three children and this is probably one of the most significant events in our lifetimes thus far–Globally speaking.
We have been at home for
46 61 days now. Well, Ty has REALLY been home the longest. Sometimes his sisters will run with Daddy to pick up some chick-fil-a, or I’ll go do grocery pickup, he hasn’t even gone on a car ride. Mostly because playing with his toys or watching a movie sounds more fun than a food run.
When this all started I felt a mix of nervous excitement for what was ahead. Excitement sounds weird–Maybe anxious is the word. I am typically ok with change, and I guess I was looking forward to the chance to be forced to slow down for a little bit. But after a week of that I was like ok, this is weird. I’m sorta homeschooling now, but officially it’s “distance learning” which means my kids are getting assignments from their teachers that I need to relay to them, and have them do. Versus just using a curriculum I’m comfortable with. (I’m mostly still doing what I want anyway because they aren’t getting real grades).
It feels like I’ve been on the biggest emotional rollercoaster of my life. Maybe second only to my hormonal pregnancies. I have less places to be, yet more stress. I have less deadlines than usual, but more stress. I have less tasks on my calendar but more stress. I thought I wanted to be homeschooling my kids, while running a business from home. But on my own terms, not under these circumstances with so much uncertainty in the air.
There isn’t as much alone time. Even when we were extremely busy before and I was taxiing my kids around, or home with Lee Lee all day–I had moments of silence in a car. Or while I waited for practice or an appointment to end.
Now it’s a groundhog day of school, feeding people, and waiting for my husband to get home from work. Then trying to get my own work done with what little energy I have left.
By the time I get to work on something creative, I’m spent. So I started waking up early to get things done. If I’m lucky I’ll get an hour before Lee Lee wakes up, but I don’t have that excited creative drive I’m used to. It’s more like a dull, put one foot in front of the other kind of thing. I’ve lost my spark and I don’t know how to get it back.
I think the hardest part for me is feeling like I’m not accomplishing anything. Earlier this year I had all sorts of goals for 2020 and some of those seem laughable now. It’s a strange mix of overwhelm and unknown that’s made an internal potion that’s making my stomach churn. It’s hard for me to stay focused, and motivated. And more than ever I’m comparing myself to others and losing sight of who I am, and what I want. I know this is because I’m consuming more than I’m creating. When that balance shifts things get dark for me. And that’s on me. Comparison is the thief of joy. I know that.
One bright spot is the fact that my kids hardly seem to notice a difference. No one is complaining about wanting to go places or being bored. It was over a month before Ty realized “we haven’t been in the car in a long time”.
I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on two things. One being stuff that will keep my kids entertained. Everything from chalk, a ninja line, a water table, and a pandemic snake (another blog post coming on our new pet soon). And the other being my leap into gardening. Which I apparently have done with the rest of society.
On March 13th, the last day we were out in the real world, I bought a cherry tomato plant and a handful of strawberry starters. I’ve watered and loved on them daily. But it’s turned into an “If you give a mouse a cookie” situation. But in my case, if I start growing some fruit, I’ll then want to build a container garden to hold more foods. But then, seeing how the ground around it is so rocky, I’ll want to get help to remove tree stumps and landscape the area. Then, since I’m already growing stuff, and I’ve always wanted an orchard on my land, I’ll want to order fruit trees. And since I’m outside so much and the kids want to be near me, I’ll get them a kiddie pool. But seeing as we have room for something bigger and I wouldn’t mind dipping in the water too, I’ll want to get a stock tank pool. Then of course that will need a cover, solar string lights, and… well, you get the idea.
I hope this isn’t just an expensive phase. If nothing else great comes out of this, I hope that my kids and I continue to have fun years from now, picking plants and fruits from our land to enjoy. And that it all started during the pandemic of 2020.
The little things I didn’t realize I loved before I miss now. Like not feeling anxious about going into a store. Waving to my kids when they got on the bus. Watching Lee Lee run to them when they got home from school. I’m thankful I recorded some of those moments before they ended so abruptly.
I don’t know what the rest of the year will look like for us. Like many people, I’m worried about work. We don’t know if it’s wise or safe to let Jayda start another season of competitive cheer. It’s expensive and uncertain right now. We don’t know which, or if any of our kids will return to public school. Lee Lee was just getting settled into her new nature school and I’m not sure when she will go back. The uncertainty is stressful. And exhausting.
Remembering that I have so much to be thankful for helps. But some days I just feel overwhelmed, and I allow myself to feel how I need to feel and be sad if I need to be. I try to make a simple to-do list to feel accomplished. Like making my bed. Drinking a lot of water, or making a status update to stay active for work.
Getting outside also helps. I’ve been doing a lot of grass mowing and weed whacking and the physical activity and sunshine feels good.
Normally I like to share these trials after I’ve come out the other side. I’m not out of my pandemic funk. Every once in a while I feel like I’ve climbed over my hump but then two days later I’m back down again. And I’d be lying if I said seeing people living seemingly normal and productive lives doesn’t send me spiraling into a funnel of self-criticism and despair. But when I do, I stop and count my blessings, or step outside, take a deep breath and reset the clock on feeling ok for a little while.
I will say one thing though… And I stated this briefly at the beginning of all this when I saw some people being critical about who is allowed to complain during this time. I think that was part of the reason for so much of my internal criticism. You can love being a mother and struggle sometimes while being a mother. You can enjoy spending time with your kids and still get burnt out from spending SO MUCH time with your kids. This isn’t the time to point fingers and say who has it worse or who’s allowed or not allowed to feel bad.
And if you’re handling this like a champ and being super productive, that’s ok too. You don’t need to stop being you to make others feel better about themselves. Keep shining. Don’t dim your light for me. I’ll get some sunglasses and pull myself back on the boat when I’m ready.
I miss my blog, and writing here. Writing this post out (even though it’s taken me two weeks to write) feels good. And it’s one little thing I can check off my list.
Finally! I finished something!
How are you doing? What has quarantine looked like at your home? Are you still out there? Talk to me!
You are not alone. I am so with you. I mean we were already homeschooling before it became mandatory, so for the most part my life was already considered quarantine. But now the kids are begging to go to the zoo, museum, library, etc.
I find myself comparing myself to others, feeling bad because I don’t complain, then feeling bad that I haven’t done enough things to be productive.
You are such an amazing mom. And when this is all over (whenever that is) we will all come out just fine for each of us.
Thank you for sharing.
“Keep shining. Don’t dim your light for me. I’ll get some sunglasses and pull myself back on the boat when I’m ready.”
Some days I feel like I can’t cope. Some days I feel like I can do this. Through it all I know it’ll be okay. God has a plan for me and my family
Overall I am okay I am working from home which has been a dream of mine for years. The first few weeks were rocky because while my husband was here he was doing his own thing while I worked and schooled the kids and feed them and played with them . I was getting mad and I think he could tell so for the last few weeks all I have done is work, he wakes up gets them breakfast does the teaching and prepares their lunch. A part of me is upset that I am working. Al over social media people are working out, doing all of these home projects all while I work and try to do it with screaming kids in the background. I am upset I want to quarantine and chill, I want to paint, I want to do that live exercise class with that star trainer, but noooo I am working. I haven’t said this to anyone because people will think I am crazy and ungrateful for feeling this way. I just want a break and a chance to relax and do some of the things I want to do. Other than that I guess life is good, I am a home body anyway so it works. I do get anxiety once I return home from the stores, my nose is running and I am think oh no I am about to die. Wiping down everything is overwhelming so much that after our trip to the grocery store last week I didn’t, I figure what’s your hands and it will be okay. We begin phase 1 of opening back next Monday, we shall we how this all works out.
I understand and can relate to all of this. Thank you for sharing and keep being the amAzing you.
A refreshing and relatable read as always, Jen. My husband and I are still going out and working our “essential” jobs, but if I was stuck at home I think I’d be going stir crazy, too. It has still been hard because now that our daughter is home, we have to help her with distance learning and I have to take her to work with me part of the week. Alone time seems like a thing of the past, and my novel writing project has crawled to a halt. Comparison is hard for me as well, when I see other people at home (admittedly mostly the ones without kids) developing new hobbies and skills or doing major home projects. I mean, I used to even compare myself to you! Of course there was no resentment, but I was like “Man, she’s so ambitious with her blog. Why can’t I stick with any of my creative projects long enough to be like that?” Needless to say, those thoughts are not productive, so I try not to dwell on them.
I’m sorry you’ve been having a hard time. Sometimes having phases where you are consuming stories rather than creating them is good. It can recharge you. I’ll be sending good vibes your way.
Yes to all of this. I’ve been trying to blog a bunch through this so I remember how it felt and how we got through the days. I, too, go through a mourning process every time I go to the grocery store and it’s so much more stressful than before. As an introvert I’ve probably adjusted better than anticipated, but there are so many little things I miss. I have a middle schooler who is doing pretty well with his school (miraculously, since he has ADHD and homework used to be misery), but he is missing his first official travel basketball season desperately. My first grader is a bear to deal with for school, and is heavily gravitating to screens right now. Weather here has been pretty miserable (finally getting into a stretch of 60s this week, but with quite a bit of rain ahead), so keeping the outside time going has been tough. The boys just want to fight a lot (with the exception of playing Fortnite, which we’d previously avoided–but my older one’s friends were playing it and he wanted to talk to them online…and now both are playing), so sometimes we overly rely on electronics since it’s the one time they’ll leave each other alone. We need breaks, too! It’s so hard to find a balance when we’re all stuck here all day. Up until now my hubby and I have both been working from home (me for full days, him a bit more sporadically), but my first week of furlough is next week and I’m actually almost looking forward to the break to be able to give my little guy more attention with his schoolwork and get some outside time myself. It’s going to be a really weird summer, for sure, but I’m just hoping that reopening goes smoothly and we find a way to get back to some semblance of normalcy without causing terrible spikes in cases. Stay safe!
Oh, and I meant to mention regarding your creativity slump, I read somewhere that a lot of people are dealing with that and it can sort of be explained by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I remember learning about it in school, but basically, if your basic needs aren’t met, it’s harder to hit your potential in other areas of life. So if your basic need of safety isn’t being met, for example, it’s harder to reach to higher levels of the pyramid, like areas of emotional well-being and achieving your highest potential in things such as creativity. So there’s a real reason for it, and it should pass once this is over. In the meantime, hang in there, give yourself some grace, and just do what you can. Survival mode in many ways!
The best part of this week has been slowly edging back into normal life. Getting my son’s haircut. Going to my regular nail place. Just seeing people again.
Love to you and your sweet kiddos!