When the economy first shut down in March and everyone was asked to stay home, I was honestly a little excited right along with slightly scared. All of a sudden, I didn’t have to pack up 3 kids in the car to go anywhere, I didn’t have to wrestle with 2 sometimes 3 kids during Mass, and I didn’t have to wear make-up or do my hair.
Even though I was concerned for the health and well-being of my family, and everyone affected by COVID, I was grateful for the break in routine and the change of pace. Incredibly, the shutdown turned out to be an insane blessing for my family because that week we also received the keys to our new house.
As people were binge watching Netflix and wondering what on earth to do with their unexpected downtime, we were happily and distractedly unpacking in a new house, organizing everything, and trying to feed five people semi-balanced meals three times a day.
Elizabeth did not have to be at school at a certain time or be picked up. Suddenly, we had all day to clean and put things away. While my husband worked on the backyard completely transforming it from beautifully landscaped to a more open space for our kids to run around, I was inside breaking down boxes and starting a big donation pile. This sounds so nice and you might be envious at first, but it was still stressful.
It honestly took a couple of months to truly appreciate the blessing that the shutdown was. Instead of going out to eat once or twice a week, we stayed home and saved some money by eating in. Instead of having to work around Elizabeth’s school schedule, we had the flexibility each day to do what we needed to do to settle into our new house. Without distractions from outside the home, we played games together, watched movies together, did the laundry together, and cleaned together. Allowing ourselves to be swept up in the Zoom craze, we chatted with my family in Cleveland more than we ever had before. We video chatted with friends in Chicago, Virginia, and Cleveland. We experimented in baking homemade biscuits and cookies. We played together a lot.
In the moment, everything felt overwhelming and simple at the same time. We felt powerless to the virus but empowered within our own home. As we were
laughing and making special memories, communities were being ravaged by a virus that might show up in our own village. I found myself reflecting on days with a newborn as a new stay at home mom. There was a similar sense of chaos and yet no pressure to do anything except the life-giving necessities of eating and sleeping. Just as I told myself in those early days of motherhood, I reminded myself during quarantine, “One day at a time and when necessary, one hour at a time.”
Those early days of parenting are filled with the sweet moments of learning how to keep an infant alive and less memories of the tumultuous days and nights of panic, doubt, and anxiety. Now with quarantine over and the school routine giving more structure to our daily lives, I’m looking back on those slow days of pajamas, too many boxes, and the backyard changing completely with more gratitude than I experienced in the moment. We will probably never receive this gift of forced family bonding again which is a blessing in terms of the virus, but that does not mean we have to abandon the moments that brought us true joy in uncertain times.
Tell me about your quarantine experience. What pockets of joy did you find amongst the simple chaos of staying home? What blessings are you grateful for now that you did not recognize then? What have you learned? What have you gained and what have you let go of?
As always, thanks so much for your time and attention!
Why I am not talking politics for the next 3 months
I decided that I’m not talking about politics for the next 3 months and I think you should avoid it also. This past weekend, I attended a family gathering (outdoors & 6 ft. apart), and something really unfortunate happened: my joy at being in a loving environment was compromised because adult family members decided to “talk” politics after several alcoholic beverages. Their “discussion” was actually just an argument and neither one of them benefitted from the dialogue nor was anything constructive even said. In consequence, everyone else was forced to endure this negative and spiteful communication or leave the area until it dissolved. I’ve been dwelling on this exchange the last few days and I’ve decided I’m not going to allow politics to ruin my time with family ever again.
This is a culmination of many situations and interactions over the last few months. The pandemic has devolved into a political debate. Our children’s education has devolved into a political debate. It seems that our daily lives have turned in to a political debate. Everyone has an opinion on everything and yet no one is really listening to anyone else, all the while believing they are right. We are all just spewing words at each other without taking the time to engage in meaningful, constructive, and respectful conversation. On social media, twice, friends have reported that a miracle happened: a post talked civilly about politics; people from each side commenting and responding with kind words and respectful attitudes. The unfortunate part of this is that it was described as a miracle because they know as well as you all do, that civil conversation about politics just does not occur anymore.
We are all guilty to some degree. Even if you have not shouted at a teenager making minimum wage about having to wear a mask, you’ve probably shared a post, commented on, or argued for why you are voting for one of the presidential candidates. I am trying to figure out how to use social media to stay in touch with family and friends spread out across the country without having to consume hateful and divisive political messages. If anyone has anything concrete, please share your ideas with me.
My decision to not talk about politics anymore comes down to the fact that I truly believe everyone could vote tomorrow. This means that I think everyone knows who they are voting for in November and nothing is going to change their minds over the next three months. I know who I am voting for and nothing is going to change my mind over the next three months. I have seen enough, heard enough, and experienced enough to know which way I am voting. I have thought about it, debated myself about it, and gone back and forth about it. Now, I am sure of who I am voting for. If you are sincerely undecided, then you obviously need to try to educate yourself. However, I think the number of undecided voters in insanely small.
Given this, what is the point of commenting on a post or arguing for your candidate? Why engage in conversation about politics when it will likely devolve into an argument? Why spend any of your time or energy on something that is so negative and draining?
The more people who begin to ignore politics, the less prominent it will be in our daily lives. There is a time and a place for political dialogue, the bishops of the United States have sought to share Catholic teaching on social and political life. In a series of statements issued every four years, they focus on “political responsibility” or “faithful citizenship.” If you are interested in reading more, start with Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship – Part 1 – The U.S. Bishops’ Reflection on Catholic Teaching and Political Life. (Link below.)
Instead of bringing up politics, let’s connect with people about our strengths, our weaknesses, what we love spending time on, and what brings us the most joy. Here are some conversation starters that I would love to talk about instead of politics:
-What have you enjoyed most about this summer?
-What has been a challenge for you this summer?
-Have you read any good books lately or watched any good TV/movies?
-Did you visit any new places this summer or revisit a family favorite?
-How have you grown over the last few months?
-How do you want to grow over the next few months?
Commit today to ignoring the hateful and divisive messages spewing forth on the internet. Redirect the conversation when it turns negative and argumentative and instead choose love, positivity, constructive, respectful, and more enlightening conversation instead. The more love we spread, the more love we will receive. The more respectful we are with others, the more respectful people will be with us.
Maybe the Peace Prayer by St. Francis can help:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
Thanks for reading.
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