Friday, October 23, 2020

Parenting in the Pandemic: Episode 1

 So I'm writing this at eleven p.m., which, let's face it has been the new two a.m. for a couple decades now. It could be a really bad idea. I may just delete the whole thing in the morning. But here I am, suffering from a mild flu shot vaccine reaction—yep that's me—and not able to sleep. I'm usually the up-at-five-a.m. person, so tomorrow should be very interesting. Don't judge me for typos.

 You might be wondering why I'm writing about parenting during the pandemic. Isn't this a book news site? Well, yes, yes it is, but let's remember it's two a.m. And like millions of parents out there, the pandemic and what it has done to our lives is always on my mind.

If I was smart, I would have started this episode months ago. Seven to be exact. But, let's be honest, I was just surviving seven months ago. And I'm pretty sure I would have lacked the perspective to see any humor in the situation at the time.

Our family is one of "those". You know, one day it was the last day of school before spring break where I was picking up my second grader from school, lugging home his prized school work (we had to keep it, his best comic strips were written in the margins, after all) and going to my eighth grader’s choir concert, and the next we turned into the crew on Gilligan's Island, where social interaction was a sweet dream and plotting and failing to get off the island our daily routine. Those were the days.

You see, I've got a super rare and super obnoxious auto-immune disease. It's about as predictable as a toddler. One minute everything is fine and then the milk spills. And on no, total melt down. And then, the milk can spill again, and everything is fine. So COVID posed a special risk to our household. 

You know that day back in March? Yah, the last day before spring break. That's the one. You know what I was doing? I was in my office, downloading software to remote in to work from home. I think I mentioned something about being prepared. And as the Finance and Operations Director, I was doing just that. I'm not sure if my coworkers thought I had lost my mind. I think I was scaring them a little, so I went ahead and download that software on their computers, too.

The brain wasn't turned on all the way, I hate to admit it, and only the part of me that was raised Seventh-Day Adventist (look it up, best survivalists on the planet) must have kicked in. All those years of tying knots, identifying edible plants, and making snow shelters was paying off. But I left everything in my office desk. I mean everything. Stamps, pens, chocolate (I really regretting this one later), the emergency kid supplies (I regretted this, too, more than you can know), and walked out the door. 

And for the first week, you know, it was almost exhilarating, like watching one of those zombie apocalypse movies. The world was going nuts, but we, in all our wisdom and toilet paper buying, were fine. I painted the office, we took hikes in the woods, and we ate our "survival" food, consisting of canned foods and macaroni (this is not, I repeat not what we eat). But we are Generation-X, the latchkey kids. Canned and boxed food. We got this. 

I'm not sure what my husband and I thought. That, like a bad movie, it would end, and the lights would flicker on. We would rub our eyes and look around disoriented and then march ourselves back into reality? It must have been, but by day five, the fun was over. News overload was served for breakfast, and the emergency fund at my office, serving our community, was activated. I plugged the kids into left-over "summer school" curriculum books (you know, the ones we always buy and the kids never use) and popped open my 2011, Windows 7 laptop, and we moved into the Twilight Zone. 

It wasn't Gilligan's Island anymore and the bad movie wasn't going to end. We weren't going to get our brains eaten by the COVID zombie, I was going to make sure of that, but the monsters under the bed were just starting to peak their heads out. The layoffs hadn't happened yet (it's spring break, remember), and moms (and dads, too)  across the globe hadn't yet realized that they were going to be logging in to work while simultaneously logging into their child's Zoom classroom. All with faulty internet (thank you, rural Colorado).

It was, as my class of 1999 high school motto stated: "It's not the end. It's not even the beginning of the end. It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." -Winston Churchill


P.S. Help a starving artist, multi-job, homeschooling mom and check out my new release:

My little helper, painting the office
Spring Break, 2020