Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that what my family has dealt with during the last few months is NOTHING compared to what other individuals and families - those who actually contracted Covid-19, those who lost a loved one to Covid-19, those working on the front lines or in essential roles, those whose home environment is unsafe, and/or those struggling to adequately homeschool, balance homeschooling and working from home, and/or stay sane with little ones at home 24-7 - have dealt with. My heart goes out and my prayers go up for you, every single day.
So, here we go.
1. Like many, if not most, of you, I've reached the point in quarantine at which my mental health is starting to suffer. I miss my friends, and my kids' friends. I miss working anywhere other than my office or living room and volunteering with my PTO teams at the kids' schools. I miss taking classes at the gym and shopping at Target. I miss our busy lives.
2. BUT...like some of you, I'm not ready to "break" quarantine and go fully back out into the real world. Two of my family members have asthma, and one has a history of pneumonia and bronchitis, making them at higher risk for complications should they come down with Covid-19.
3. Like almost all of you, I am grieving the loss of everything we've missed these last two months. Soccer practices, games, and tournaments. Track practices and meets. UIL and Solo & Ensemble competitions. School fundraisers and dances. School, soccer, and dance award and induction ceremonies. The Daddy Daughter Dance. Dance recitals. End-of-the-year showcases, shows, field trips, and parties. I just feel sad.
4. I am not a very good teacher. (There's a reason I didn't go into that field, folks.) I wasn't cut out for crisis homeschooling, and despite my efforts, I don't feel like the homeschooling we accomplished adequately prepared my kids for their upcoming grades. We did alright, but I know we are going to have to continue learning - more so than in summers past - over the next three months.
5. Speaking of summer, I strongly dislike summer. (Not summer vacation - just summer.) It's my least favorite season, mostly because I hate being hot (it makes me feel sluggish, grumpy, and at times even panicky and claustrophobic, like I can't escape it), but also because I can't stand sweating unless I'm working out or at a swimming pool or beach. Additionally, I don't like bugs, dealing with sunscreen, Daylight Saving Time, and the fact that my electric bill is so high between May and September.
6. On a related note, I'm preemptively grieving all of the summer fun we would have, could have, should have had this year. As is to be expected, nothing we had on our summer calendar is happening as planned. Athletic and fine arts camps, futsal league, dance lessons, swim lessons, etiquette classes (yep, I was planning to send my kids to etiquette classes this summer)...some of these activities won't happen at all, and with regard to those that do happen, I just don't know exactly how we'll feel and what we'll do. We also don't know if we'll get to see our families this summer. We definitely don't feel safe flying, and the road trip is long enough that a hotel stay - and MANY bathroom, food, and gas stops - is required and we don't feel safe going that route either.
7. I'm tired. Of worrying. Of feeling frustrated and angry. Of feeling discouraged and heartbroken. Of not being able to plan. (I'm a planner, y'all, and the fact that my 2020-2021 academic year planner is empty except for birthdays is driving me completely crazy.)
8. I continue to deal with a number of minor - but frustrating, annoying, and at times painful - physical ailments. I won't go into great detail here, other than to assure you that I'm not dying. Oh, and to confirm what I'd previously heard others proclaim: after turning 40, everything goes to hell in a hand basket.
Y'all. I actually do feel a little bit better having written all of that down. Step #1: ✔
Moving on to the second half of the exercise. Here's what I am doing - or should be doing - to improve my situation, along with what I need to let go of in order to improve my mental health.
1. We're doing our best to stay connected to family members and friends virtually, and to get out of the house on occasion. We all exercise and/or play outside daily, and we also pick up prescriptions at the drive-thru pharmacy, pick up groceries, drop off goodies on friends' doorsteps, celebrate friends with birthday parades, and drink coffee in my friend Jenn's driveway once a week. To "mix things up", I've decided to try working somewhere other than my office desk or living room couch - maybe the bedroom chair or the couch in Tom's "office" - and I found an AMAZING local cold brew (more on that in April's Monthly Medley) that tops Starbucks'. I regularly remind myself how lucky I am to have access to the technology and equipment necessary to exercise at home, occasional workout buddies in my kids, and the ability to shop online.
2. Though much of Texas has begun to open up, we aren't quite ready to join those venturing out to restaurants, stores, theaters, salons, and gyms. But we are starting to see and spend time with our friends as safely as possible, and I am starting to consider an adventure to the UPS store to drop off my sister's belated birthday present. (I bought Sara's present in March for her May 12th birthday, but still haven't felt comfortable enough to go inside UPS.)
3. I'm trying to let myself feel sad, but this is easier said then done because while I don't mind letting the kids see me get upset and cry, they certainly don't need to see it every day. And let's be honest - I'm feeling sad every day because every day at this time of the year should have held something fun or special that isn't happening. (Additionally, now that we're all together in the house 24/7, there are no safe places melt down. A friend of mine told me that last week she went for an hour-long drive just so she could cry alone - I might give that a try.)
4. We're done with crisis homeschooling! I plan to take a week or two off from worrying about whether or not we did a good enough job and let future Erin deal with summer school.
5. Enter our "swimming" pool. After that, I'm out of ideas.
6. Last week the kids and I brainstormed a lot of ideas for activities, experiences, and outings that we could safely enjoy this summer. My favorites include: painting our little library, venturing out to the drive-through safari, holding our own daddy daughter dance (don't tell Hallie, because we're working on this one as a surprise), learning to tie dye, dying our hair, at-home etiquette camp with me, disc golf camp with Tom, and a week of themed dress days. We're also considering letting the kids participate in some modified camps and lessons with teams, studios, and organizations we trust to follow all requirements and guidelines and will do their very best to protect those in attendance. Travel is still a gigantic question mark.
7. I'm trying to maintain some semblance of a schedule (I continue to get up at 6:55am every morning, for example) while still allowing for variation and spontaneity. I'm trying to find the good in each day - thank goodness for my High Five for Friday posts, which "force" me to truly think about the highs in addition to the lows. I'm trying not to read Facebook post comments. (These are the source of at least 50% of my negative feelings.) And more than anything else, I'm just praying for peace.
8. I'm searching for answers, seeking help when needed, trying to make healthy choices, giving thanks when I see improvement, and again, praying for peace.
I don't feel quite as good as I did after step #1, but at least I made it through. Step #2: ✔
All in all, however, I highly recommend this exercise. Share - in whatever way feels right for you - what weighs on your mind, your shoulders, your heart. (I'm happy to listen if you need an ear!) Get it out there in the world, and then circle back around to figure out what you can control, what you can't, and how to move forward.
Time to end on a high note!
First, I'd love to give away a "pick me up" goodie bag to a Chasing Roots reader. Like this post or share a comment - here, on my Facebook page, or on the Chasing Roots' Facebook page - about something that has made you feel better on a bummer day to be entered into the drawing. I'll choose the winner on Friday night and touch base with the winner on Saturday!
Second, and in case you need a laugh after all that, last week I found this:
I hope you have a wonderful week!