Today I took my dog for a walk. I wanted a few minutes to myself, so I popped in my AirPods and cued up a podcast I love, with a plan to steal (at least) 20 minutes of alone time. I didn’t realize my kids had decided to go for a bike ride and, despite being half a mile from home, of course they found me. My youngest was mad about something her older sister had done and my quiet time was quickly interrupted so I could take on one of my usual roles these days – referee.
Already irritated, a few minutes later a car came careening around the corner, without so much as slowing down, and blew through a stop sign. I stood in the middle of the street and started yelling at the car (whose windows weren’t even open) to “SLOW DOWN” and that “KIDS LIVE HERE”.
Not my finest moment but I am not myself these days. None of us are.
On a typical day, you can find me waxing poetic about silver linings and turning lemons into lemonade. I live with an incurable cancer, diagnosed when I was just 42 years old, and I’ve found that being positive really makes a world of difference for me. Like all of us, some days are harder than others but for the most part I really do try and see the good and not the bad.
All that said, my current state finds me wanting to SCREAM every time I see a Facebook post telling me to “appreciate this quiet time” or “hug my kids”.
I realize the hypocrisy in this. I fancy myself a writer since leaving my full-time job a few years back and almost every blog I’ve written over the past five and half years has been about just that – being positive. But right now I am irrationally and inexplicably furious every time I see people telling me how to feel.
Because right now I am mad.
I am sad.
I am anxious.
I am worried.
I am also bored as f***.
And I’m here to tell you – that is just fine.
Let me say, I do realize there are absolutely silver linings that have come from this new world we now live in.
- My family and I aren’t constantly rushing these days. I have three children who play a total of eight sports between them. We are always on the go. Some nights we have to be in five places at once – hard to imagine but it’s true. Now, we get to have dinner together every night and actually take the time to talk to each other. They aren’t shoving food in their mouths in the car as we rush to practices. On the weekends, we sleep in and get rest, without pondering –as we once had to — how two parents could possibly attend three soccer games in three different states, all scheduled for the same time.
- I have “seen” friends I wouldn’t normally get to hang out with and certainly not this often. I go for virtual walks with my college best friends. Last weekend, I was on a video chat with my high school besties for over FIVE hours. By the end we were all a little happily buzzed and I realized that hadn’t happened in forever, since we are all responsible adults who have to drive home every time we meet for our almost-every-other-month dinner dates. We started the call talking about serious stuff, like this new world we are living in and its impact on our lives, and ended with us laughing until our stomachs hurt about…well, I’m not entirely sure.
- My family has (so far) remained healthy and we have food on the table. Our financial security hasn’t been impacted (as long we don’t look at those 401ks….). My kids have the technology they need to complete their school work. And we have toilet paper and paper towels, which I understand makes us pretty damn lucky.
I realize, logically, there is much to be grateful for. And I am typically a girl who loves herself a good gratitude meme or quote.
But I’m also really frustrated. Beware. Rant ahead …
I’m annoyed by all the people who think the rules don’t apply to them. Who still think it’s okay to have parties, play dates and sleepovers. Even just a few minutes I saw a post on Facebook about a group of kids playing football at our high school. WTF?!? Still??
I have had FOMO (fear of missing out) since before there was an acronym for it. OF COURSE I also want to be out with our friends and I want my kids to be with theirs. Is there anyone who doesn’t?? But my kids can’t and I can’t. One is the hallmarks of the type of cancer I have (called multiple myeloma) is a highly-compromised immune system. This, coupled with the fact that I am currently receiving treatment for my cancer, puts me in not one but TWO high-risk categories.
So it really gets me mad when I see that people still aren’t taking this seriously. And I’m self-aware enough to realize it is, in part, because I resent I have to be even more vigilant than others do. (I’m also a major rule follower who doesn’t understand why people don’t JUST. FOLLOW. THE. RULES!!)
And those dinners we have every night? It’s great to sit down and have deep conversations with my husband and kids. Bu someone has to cook those meals (so…many….meals), after first figuring out what they will consist of. I feel as though all I do is talk about what we are going to eat, prepare what we are going to eat, serve what we are eating and clean up from what we ate. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Also, if I see another comment about how “the flu is worse” or – even more infuriating to me – that the pharmaceutical companies, the government, the Democrats (insert your conspiracy theory here…) has the cure and they are not sharing it – I will lose my mind.
Admittedly, the words “big Pharma” are a trigger for me. I proudly worked for one of the largest healthcare companies in the world (Johnson & Johnson) for almost two decades and I know first-hand how invested we are in patients. There’s no secret room where pharma companies are hiding the cure to cancer and now the coronavirus. And the medicines these big, bad companies make? They are keeping me alive.
Yes, the flu may kill more people but this is NOT the flu. I’m not here to debate if it’s worse. What we can say accurately is that it is different because we KNOW the flu. We have a vaccine for the flu and it’s not a NOVEL virus. Novel means new – which means unknown and unpredictable.
So please stop saying this is no big deal and that the flu is worse. No one wants to hear it, least of all those people who have lost otherwise-healthy loved ones from this. Definitley not the health care workers who are risking their lives and can’t be around their families for fear of spreading the disease. And for sure not all of us who are stuck inside and starting to get really cranky. At this point it doesn’t matter if you think the flu is worse. We are still stuck at home – at least those of us following the rules.
The other day a friend posted a question in our local moms Facebook page, asking a clarifying question about an email that had been sent out by our district about grading in this new world. It wasn’t critical, at least it didn’t seem so to me. But she got a stronger response than seemed warranted, telling her to just hug her kid and relax.
What this made me realize is that two things, two feelings, can be true at the same time.
We can love, respect and admire the incredible people who teach and love our children while they are at school and still be worried about the impact this situation will have on their grades, college applications and school life.
We can appreciate how unprecedented this change has been for those same educators and still wish that the use of technology and online learning was going a little more smoothly (or – I’m sure in some districts – than is happening at all) so that our children can feel a sense of connection to their school & their classmates, as well as a sense of normalcy.
We can love our children with every ounce of our being and still be sick of being around them all the time.
We can be grateful they are healthy and still wish they didn’t say “Mom? Mom? MOM MOOOOOM ????” 7,102,894 times a day.
We can believe this time will teach us all new skills like resilience, empathy & so many others and still also have no desire to use this time to teach us other skills like how to knit, how to speak a new language or how to play an instrument.
The fact of the matter is that we are all allowed to feel EXACTLY how we feel. And those feelings are going to change weekly, daily and even hourly. It’s also acceptable that I be super mad/disappointed/frustrated by something that may not be a big deal to YOU.
Our youngest daughter is in third grade. She is the last of our kids who will “graduate” from an elementary school in which we have had children enrolled for almost eight straight years. We realized the other day that, should school not resume this year, she won’t ever be a student there again. She won’t have a Third Grade party or clap-out ceremony — she may never walk those halls again. I realize this may be small potatoes to some. I know there are high school seniors who won’t have proms or will miss real graduation ceremonies. There are college athletes who won’t get to take the field again.
And this doesn’t even address those families who have lost their incomes, who are worried about loved ones who have gotten sick, who are terrified to go to hospital to deliver their babies or who can’t properly bury a loved one who has died.
It sucks. Not more or less. We don’t need to compare the suckiness. It’s not a competition.
It ALL just sucks.
For most of us, this is a situation unlike any other we’ve ever been in. There’s no handbook. We are figuring it as we go – and everyone has been affected in so many different ways.
Please let people feel how they want to feel about all of this. When a friend or family member is complaining, it’s okay to encourage themto find the silver linings (because there are usually some to be found…) but you can always just acknowledge some (most) of this sucks. Like a LOT.
Just like in the pre-coronavirus world, you have NO idea what is going on in someone’s life and why they may feel differently than you do about this situation. Why they may be upset or worried or mad or anxious or sad (or, like me today, cranky).
Most of us are on an emotional roller coaster these days – and that’s to be expected in times like these. Be honest about those emotions, allow yourself – and those around you – to feel them and process them.
After that it will be much easier to actually find those silver linings when you’re ready to look for them.
Until next time, #gameon….