Updated: Mar 20, 2020
I had an interesting conversation with a friend this morning that made me reflect. She had checked in on me to see how I was doing, as many of us are. I gave her an honest answer--I wasn't doing great.
I am somebody that needs alone time to stay sane. Probably more than the average person (whatever that means). I used to joke (by "used to" I mean a week ago) that Mondays were my favorite day because I had the house to myself again--my husband was back at work and the kids were at school. I had my various activities and clients, so I wasn't sitting around eating bon bons, but I had the house to myself for a few hours and those hours were blissful. It was my chance to recharge and interact with no one.
We are only in day four (technically it's been longer, but I considered this past Monday to be the official start of this new situation) and it's becoming more of a struggle. We are all doing the best we can in an unprecedented and fluid situation. My husband is sequestered in our home office the size of a closet, trying to get his work done. I'm trying to keep the kids occupied while our school system figures out what its next steps are. At times I feel like the kids and I have to tiptoe around during my husband's conference calls. I am doing what I can to keep my own business going, but at this point my focus is on the kids, the house and the pets. But all I can think about is I haven't had a moment to myself. There is no space in this house that is solely mine. That is hurting my mental health and that is leading to me snapping at my family.
My friend, on the other hand, is feeling the opposite. She and her husband run their own businesses. They don't have children. Her husband is still running his brick and mortar business while she works out of their home. She never sees him and she feels increasingly isolated because she's alone all day and into the night. We joked that maybe we should switch spots because the other's situation is the one we covet.
This conversation with my friend makes me wonder who else is struggling. I think of the families with parents who are trying to work remotely but have young kids that need more care and attention than my 2nd and 4th graders. I think of the single parents that have jobs that require them to still go into their physical offices, whether it be in healthcare, retail or another industry. I think of my single friends who are working remotely and live alone and may not interact with anyone in person for several days.
I've seen and heard people talk about "staying positive". While I don't disagree with this statement, it's not always that simple. There are very valid reasons to have concerns about what is happening and as somebody who has been told to "be positive" at other times in her life when things have happened, this statement can feel dismissive, like worry or anxiety aren't valid feelings. On the other hand, there are neighbors I'm avoiding because they love to talk about impending doom. They've always been pessimists and this situation has sent them into more of a frothing tizzy.
I don't want this to be read as a pity party. I am extremely grateful that my husband has a job that pays for our mortgage and food on our table. I'm grateful that my business doesn't provide the bulk of our family's income. I'm grateful we have health insurance. I'm grateful that I'm not at a workplace that doesn't support working parents (which is more the rule than the exception). My parents and in-laws, some of whom are not in the best health, are still fine. If myself, my husband or my kids get infected, most likely we'll be fine.
I'm not sure what the point of this entry is. Maybe to vent? Maybe to feel like I'm not alone? To whine about my first world problems about my lack of solitude? Despite this post, I'm doing pretty good today. I'm calmer and less tense than I was yesterday, but I also know that I could suddenly need a break and feel trapped. After a few days of attempted structure for the kids, I've lightened up a bit. Miraculously, the kids were watching the Mo Willems Lunch Doodle and got the idea to make their own pigeon book, with the 10-year-old writing and the 8-year-old illustrating. This has given me a few glorious hours to do other things. I have always loved Mo Willems, but now I LOVE Mo Willems.
How are you doing? Are you lonely or are you craving alone time? How are you balancing staying informed with staying positive? I'd welcome your thoughts.