Martorella: Corona crazy
Usually at this time of year, we are in the midst of March Madness. But this year, it’s Corona Craziness. And it’s not nearly as much fun.
I’ll admit when the closures first started, I was ecstatic. I had reached a point of true overwhelm, and I felt like I needed the world to just stop so I could catch up. And then it did.
I have written here recently about worrying less and laughing more, but truth be told, I was still worrying a lot about balancing work and home, about my kids. Then this crisis hit and one by one all of those worries disappeared: How can I meet deadlines and make those meetings? No problem, they’re cancelled. Am I prepared to attend those events? Doesn’t matter, cancelled. Can I reschedule this to get to that? No need. Cancelled and cancelled. Argh! Another week of half-days for school conferences? Don’t worry, they’re cancelled. Are my kids missing out if they don’t do x,y,z? Nope, because they’re all cancelled.
School closing meant no morning chaos, no lunches to pack, no running late, no homework battles. I shrugged off the color-coded charts others were using to keep children scheduled, and relished the break from it all. Our introverted natures didn’t mind social distancing, and it was pajama day every day. We were all so much happier. Even my role running my extended family’s NCAA March Madness tournament pool was eliminated. First time ever I was cheering for no teams!
As I erased one thing after another off my calendar, I did feel a bit guilty. I knew my joy was coming at others’ expense. I knew I was lucky to be healthy (at the moment), and to have older children that don’t need constant monitoring or attention, and a flexible job that can easily be done from home. I felt truly blessed.
But then online school started, and I broke down. I didn’t want to go back to fighting about schoolwork, to having deadlines and responsibilities. My family is better with clear boundaries, and no matter how much “structure” or “routine” we can implement at home, it is not school, and I am not their teacher.
Something had shifted, and the strangeness of this new life started to unsettle me. We’re stuck at home, but we feel well and it’s beautiful outside. I hate cooking, but wary of ordering in. We have everything, but yet we are being told we are under-prepared. It feels like we are in a science fiction movie with some invisible mist slowly coming towards us, but we don’t know where it is or how fast it’s moving.
As adults, we want to have control of our lives, but our control is minimal right now. As parents, we learn to accept that we don’t always have control of our lives, but we still want to have answers for our children. Right now, we have no answers even for ourselves.
In this environment, the smallest steps can make a difference in how we feel. After the initial excitement of pajama day wore off, I found getting dressed every morning, even if I have nowhere to go, helps me feel better and more able to cope with the unexpected challenges.
Given that physical distancing is necessary outside the home, finding ways to connect with family and friends through email, text, FaceTime, meeting apps, and good old-fashioned phone calls is more important than ever. Of course, within the home, we may not have enough the physical distancing. It IS possible to have too much family time. Meditation, a walk, even ten minutes alone to regroup can be crucial.
While social distancing is important to containing this virus, social-media distancing could be the key to surviving it. Facebook is an important source for my connections, and I enjoy the humorous memes, experiences, and videos my fellow moms are sharing, but I stopped reading the horror stories, statistics, and political rants. I stay informed about the local plans that directly affect my family and keep up on the global basics through neutral news sources.
Perhaps the hardest part is turning off my anxious mind during this time of uncertainty, but I’m trying hard to stay in the present. Snowballing, catastrophizing, and worrying about the what if’s is just not helpful. We can’t predict what will happen or when this will end. We can only be mindful of what we do in the moment and take it day by day.
These are difficult, frightening times. But part of me does wonder if the world needed this type of global reset. The political screaming has quieted, the natural disasters have slowed, our schedules have freed way, way up. I hope that we all get through this with minimal losses and that maybe there is a lesson for all of us in the end.
Wishing you safe, calm, healthy days ahead.
Rebecca Martorella, LMFT welcomes ideas and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org