When we got our stimulus check earlier in the year we casually said that maybe we’d use it to refresh the kitchen a little bit. Our kitchen has always been totally functional for us, lots of storage, a peninsula where the kids eat every meal, and one of my favorite features: a large open space between the peninsula and the coffee bar (aka the cabinets and counter on the far wall) that is often used as a dance floor.
But the finishes were never our style. The counters were laminate in two entirely different colors: cream for most of the countertops, dark green marble effect on two others (with a big seam between them where water from the sink splashed and caused them to warp).
2020 has clearly been the spookiest year even without embellishment, but the thought of Halloween not happening this year because of COVID was pretty crushing for me. Halloween was my favorite holiday growing up, and it could be argued that I’ve carried more traditions down for that holiday than for any others. For awhile it seemed like trick-or-treating might not happen, but I began costumes in earnest in September because I needed to hang onto something.
I think that this is week four of school but I’m not entirely sure. Everything is tough to juggle right now. Today I was in the middle of a work meeting when a friend came to pick Vivi up for an outdoor play date and I realized I had no idea where she was. I excused myself so that I could yell her name from the front yard like a crazy person and eventually realized that Kristin told her she could go to the playground. Kristin then had to leave her work meeting to go to the playground to find her. A few minutes later I heard Jonah’s therapist say (as Jonah carried the laptop through the house), “Do you think you could find somewhere quiet for us to talk?” so I excused myself from my meeting again to suggest a new location. When I returned to the meeting a colleague asked me, “so where’s Jude?” and I had to admit that I had no idea. They’re raising themselves, honestly.
So for my own sanity, because reflecting on good things is grounding, I’m returning to Five Things Right Now.
When we were on vacation in Clark Lake my sister taught me how to take beautiful long-exposure sparkler photos. Somehow I’d never quite figured it out despite the hundreds of sparklers we’ve waved through the night air. On that trip we also learned our school district’s official options for students and began to weigh the pros and cons of each. No matter which option we chose we would have a minimum of nine weeks of fully virtual school in our future, possibly more. Before the week was out I had a spark of inspiration for another long-exposure photo I wanted to take: I imagined myself sitting at the table in the mudroom where I work, this time with laptops and school supplies strewn about, with the kids moving about me as they might on any given day, blurs of motion and activity while I try (often in vain) to focus.
There’s an article that I absolutely love, I probably link to it almost annually, called The Myth of Quality Time. When I read it years ago it shifted the way that I think about family vacations, especially those with extended family. I used to worry a lot about whether I was making the most of our time together and more specifically whether it felt like “quality time.” That article helped me to see that brilliant moments of joy and connection weren’t something that I could facilitate through appropriate activity choices. It’s about showing up, spending time together.
Somehow it’s already mid-July. Time feels hazy and confusing, but even though our days and weeks don’t feel terribly different than they did in the spring, the march towards fall and the unpredictable school year that lies ahead is bringing a sort of dread. Somehow I’m simultaneously confident that we’ll be fine in the long run, while also expecting the logistics of managing online learning for three small children while working full time, possibly with no second adult at home (since they may send her back to the school building) to be a hellscape unlike anything I’ve juggled before.
It’s been a challenging couple of weeks. Less so in our house, more so in America, but also just being a person trying to do the best I can. Social media has been overwhelming, and all of the conflicting “shoulds” have really been throwing me off. I feel like I’m finding my internal compass again and going back to the things that feel right to me: reading, listening, expanding my knowledge, having conversations, being vulnerable, but most importantly trying to raise good humans who understand racism and privilege. I’m not perfect and I’m never going to be. That is what it is.
It’s the last week of school and the weather has been summer-like and this past weekend was lovely. We went to Saugatuck Dunes State Park and both K and I were amazed that we’d never been before. Getting to the beach involved a long hike through the woods, but it was gorgeous.
Wow, when I counted weeks just now I was sort of taken aback. It’s hard to believe it’s been nine weeks since this all began.
Kristin told me this evening that I’ve been surprisingly calm. So many people are falling apart in their own unique ways, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do right now, but I’m kind of settling in and somehow this whole crisis seems to have removed or minimized many of the things that cause me stress in a normal world. I’m also incredibly lucky to have access to emergency FMLA from 9:00-11:00 each morning, and that has made a tremendously positive impact. This week I feel like I’m in a period of focusing on the wins rather than the struggles. So here they are: Five things right now.
I was thinking of doing another “Five Things Right Now” post, but then I realized that I’m not sure there’s enough variety in my life right now for me to think of five unique things. I could try to summarize what a profoundly weird six weeks this has been, but that would be true for pretty much everyone in the world and nothing I could say would be remarkable or interesting. Instead, how about just some lists of highs and lows for me in particular. Continue reading →