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Mama, don't feel guilty about doing nothing

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I’ve been in a self-quarantine now with several members of my family for just over a week. While I don’t have any symptoms, I’m trying my best to do my part in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (aka the coronavirus). Even with the best of intentions, I must admit I’m struggling a bit to adjust to this new temporary lifestyle of mine.

I live in Central Texas, in a small town next to the largest base in the U.S. Army (Fort Hood) with my husband and son. Before things got too far out of my hand, my mom came down to visit from Washington state, but due to her being in a high-risk category, she cancelled her return flight home. Now she finds herself stuck indoors with all of us for an unknown amount of time - all while trying to work remote from another state.

My husband is currently serving in the U.S. Army, and while the rest of the nation is starting to shut down their workers, the military is still standing ready to serve like many other personnel in uniforms of a different kind (police, firefighters, EMTs, etc.). This brings about a certain stress that comes from a family doing their best to try and keep an acceptable “social distance.” We can only do so much when one person in the family must continue to trek out into the world and then come home at night. I’m sure other families are also feeling the same way with family members working in hospitals, shipping companies, warehouses, and stores to keep the nation (and the world) going. For all of us, we take on more challenging circumstances as we do our best to keep the virus from coming into our homes - especially when we have people who are in high risk categories with us.

While at home I’ve got a lot, and mean A LOT, of time on my hands that I didn’t have before. This entire experience has also given me time to reflect on just how little time I spend at home during the week and how much being stuck here is driving me nuts. Truthfully, I cannot read another article on the virus (unless it has to do with school closures) and even the humor of Coronavirus memes is starting to lose their luster. When I first entered into self-quarantine, I told myself that I was going to do all of these productive things; clean/organize spaces I had been neglecting, open that Rosetta Stone language software that I think needs a massive update because it hasn’t been opened in years, and then to top it all off, I was going to finally delete several thousand photos from my phone. But did any of that happen? Not exactly… I did organize our home office and managed to clear two weeks’ worth of emails from my account. Then things just seemed to go downhill from there.

No, these days I find myself wanting to binge watch some Netflix and maybe drink a glass (or two) of some stockpiled wine I got at the grocery store in place of the empty space in my shopping cart that was meant for toilet paper. Now with school being out for an additional week, I’ve gained a whole new respect for teachers and the time it takes to make a lesson plan because so far, I’ve failed miserably at making one of my own. I’ve truly appreciated all the links (some of which I’ve shared myself) advertising free online learning software and e-books for kids, but I haven’t actually used any of them for my son. So far, we’ve spent this time as a family watching movies, playing games and then me handing off the controller to his Xbox to play with some of his friends online. Does that make me a bad parent? No. Am I doing this because I feel drained doing nothing productive at home? Yes, and no.

As I mentioned above, this time at home has given me some perspective to think about. The biggest being that I never stop going and neither does my family. Between work, homework, sports, working out, and activities, there isn’t really a lot of time left for anything else. So, while I started this quarantine with good intentions and high hopes, I now see an almost silver lining in being forced to slowdown and spend time at home with my family. My son is getting to just be a kid with no worries or modern-day obligations. I get to sit and truly “Netflix and chill” a bit without stress of my own obligations for the following day. In a way, it’s been nice cutting out all of the nonessential stuff for a bit. Does that mean my life is 100% without stress? No. We still have worries that come from unusual circumstances like this. We still worry about getting the virus with my mom present, we still worry about transferring it to those who are also high risk like her. We also worry about friends and family with small businesses struggling to stay afloat and people not having enough money to make ends meet. Even with all of that, we’re still trying to see light in dark and stressful times.

I’m not going to feel guilty about the lack of professional grade lesson plans for my children or not checking off the housework that needs to be done. So, while I think it’s wonderful seeing all these fellow moms killing it with homeschooling, hobbies, and life projects. I just won’t be joining you this time around (though I will be cheering you on from behind my computer screen!) During this time, I’m going to enjoy being at home with my family because I haven’t been able to do this in a long while. Since we don’t know how much longer all of this will last, all we can do is our part and make the best of it. If that means taking on the world? Great! If that means spending time together? Great! If it means doing nothing but watching terrible reality shows. Also, great! Just do what works best for you and your family and support those in their lives that need it most. We’re all in this together and doing the best we can.

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