When all of this began back in March, back when life as we knew it changed, I could only find solace in the reality that this couldn't last forever and we were all experiencing the same strange thing - quarantine.
If someone had told me, just months ago, that I'd be given the opportunity to work from home for an extended period of time, I would have daydreamed about how much time I'd have free to spend on writing stories. The truth is that this is the first piece I've been able to write this entire time. My days are so very full between work and teaching and parenting, all from home, that it doesn't leave any time for me to focus on the things that are a true reflection of me, the things I find joy in and that make me proud. It's no wonder I was so eager to get back to the daily routine I'd grown comfortable with.
The first week of quarantine felt like a vacation since we didn't think it would last much longer than that. We couldn't see how it would have been possible, or how our economy would survive such a new way of life. Homeschool or Distance Learning was a novel thing at the time, just one week before my son's school took a two week Spring Break, though no one spent that time enjoying themselves. We spent that first week on a loose schedule that included lots of hands-on learning in the subjects that interested him most - math, science, and coding. Writing continued to be a struggle, as always, and I got to witness firsthand what difficulties my son's teacher was experiencing with him in the first grade classroom.
We were one month into quarantine before the school district stepped in with Distance Learning to support parents and students from home in our new normal. I had struggled with how to keep my son busy all day long, while also working from home full-time, so this gave me a sense of relief that I had some direction from the school on how to structure his day. Last year, I shared an end of school story about how my son is very advanced but struggles to prove his intelligence in a testing environment or even in the classroom. I spent his first five years as a stay-at-home mom before he started school so life in quarantine was very similar to that, but now I was also working full-time from home.
This has been a strange time in life. Zoom Happy Hour with friends quickly became a thing of the past since I couldn't bear to spend more time on the computer than was already necessary between the hours of 7am and 7pm. I've come to accept that I can do anything, but I can't do everything and that a messy house is not the end of the world. I've had to be extra kind to myself and remember that this is not a time to pursue goals or take up new hobbies. It also brought about an unexpected shift in my personal relationship with my boyfriend as we quarantined together though we dated for a year prior to this, sharing our time between his life in LA and mine in San Diego.
There were so many days that I said to myself and others, "I can't wait for life to get back to normal," though I didn't really know what that was and we certainly weren't going to return to the same exact lives that we were experiencing earlier this year. Now that I've been able to create a good routine between work and school and parenting, I feel good. I feel confident. I feel happy. And I am now feeling very, very anxious about returning back to "normal." I started off so stressed out that my son would return back to school not knowing how to act in a classroom setting once schools opened up again. What I didn't expect was to be forced to come face to face with the reality that my son learns best from home and I am unable to provide him with that atmosphere since I have a job outside of the home. I'm so impressed by how far he has progressed in this time, now that his education and classroom are led from the comfort of home.
I truly can't imagine going back to our old schedule and working in my office and leaving my son at school. Everything feels so good right now that it's hard to accept that I have so much that I'll have to give up after being gifted this time together in quarantine. I love spending time in the kitchen, so making my son his favorite breakfast burrito every morning has been something I look forward to just as much as I've enjoyed having him surprise me with a hot cup of coffee in bed when he wakes up before me. I love watching my son and boyfriend play catch together outside or quietly read next to each other on the couch while I catch up on emails or a conference call on mute. I absolutely LOVE being home to make dinner at 4pm Monday through Friday - something I never had time for when arriving home at 6pm most evenings! I also love not driving to work anymore, always in a constant state of rushing to get somewhere on time.
I look back on what life used to be with the comfortable routine that only allowed me to see my son for an hour in the morning and two hours in the evening because of school and work, the early mornings to get out the door on time, only having the weekends to look forward to in which I could spend time with my best friend and boyfriend, and I can't believe that is the life I thought I missed so much, just because I'd grown so accustomed to it. I didn't realize how much anxiety my "normal life" was causing me until I took this time to focus on what matters, and now I have no idea how I'm supposed to return to that life.