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!
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