I’ve really been trying to be positive lately. Last week, I was upbeat about not losing power; last month, I was looking forward to restarting virtual school; six months ago, I was desperately hoping for a quarantine because it sounded so relaxing.
I’ve tried to lean in to pandemic life: sourdough bread, long-simmered Bolognese sauce on a weekday, neighborhood walks with the dog and my teenage daughter, extended morning snuggles with my younger daughter, so much more quality time with my husband.
Today, though, is not a good day.
My older daughter woke up with an anxiety attack at 5 a.m. – she has always been an anxious human, but the isolation has been especially hard on her. She misses roller derby, and the virtual practice they held on Sunday made it worse because it reminded her of what she was missing. (In much the same way that I’d rather drink plain water than diet soda even though I absolutely love a good fountain Coke, she would rather have nothing than a virtual exercise routine where she can see her best friends but not hug them and she doesn’t even get to put on her skates and gear.) She’s at a new school and can’t really make new friends, even though she’s texted a few people and followed some Instagram accounts. I hate this for her, hate that she is missing this last year of middle school that should be full of crushes and dances and passed notes.
My younger one had to be pulled from her bed at 8:35 when her teacher texted that she needed to be in virtual science class. She did not want to be in virtual science class. She does not want to be in any virtual classes. She is the only kid in her class not doing in-person school and every day the guilt of that presses me down – but every day I get a new COVID notification from her school, and I know I couldn’t handle the stress of in-person right now. With virtual, though, every task is a struggle and is met with resistance and sometimes tears. I used to dread “homework hour” after school, and now our entire day is “homework hour.” I got an email from her school about youth soccer, and she loves soccer, but I can’t put her in soccer right now! I wonder how much she is losing, how this is affecting her, what mental scars from this she will carry for her whole life.
My stepson was supposed to start college last week at LSU, his first real taste of independence, with a roommate and a dorm fridge and a roll of quarters for laundry. Instead, he’s sitting at the same desk he’s been sitting at for years, his sisters bickering in the background as he tries to take notes on a Zoom lecture. There are no freshman mixers or ice cream socials or fall welcomes in his immediate future. I wanted so much more for him than what he’s getting right now.
My dad is 82 and has mild dementia, which means I’m constantly having to explain to him why he can’t go to the store (he goes anyway) and the library (he goes anyway) and the bank (he goes anyway). I worry about him all the time and I don’t think he has nearly enough masks.
I’m trying to work full-time and home-school full-time and care for my dad and tend to everyone’s emotional needs – oh, and last week we thought the dog might have brain cancer but it turns out he’s just blind in one eye and might go blind in the other. I saw a video of our school orchestra playing “What a Wonderful World” and burst into tears in front of both kids and my best friend.
Y’all. I can’t take much more of this.
It’s fine. I know it’s fine. I know I’m lucky, that my whole family is lucky.
Please understand: I know so many people have it worse.
But that doesn’t make this easy.
Tomorrow, I’ll try again. I’ll wake up early and get Georgia up in plenty of time to Zoom in to class, hopefully in a good mood. I’ll make sourdough waffles and do silly dances to encourage work completion. I’ll urge Ruby to text three friends, and then she and I can watch “Brooklyn 99” once she’s done with class. We’ll walk the dog and be grateful for his one good eye, marveling at how well he gets along. I’ll check in with my dad and remind him that I can order groceries if he needs them. We’ll make dinner and eat as a family and all list one thing we’re grateful for.
But tonight? Tonight I’m going to pour an enormous glass of wine, get in a hot bath, and cry and wallow.
There are always going to be good days and bad.
Today, for me, was bad.
May tomorrow be better, for me and for all of us.