I normally really enjoy blogging. It’s a creative outlet for me that has come to be an important part of my routine, but since the world went sideways my mind has gone blank. I can’t remember anything and I seem to have forgotten how to talk. There is so much information out there – too much if you ask me. It’s difficult to keep yourself reasonably informed without being completely overwhelmed.
The balancing act
Right now I am trying to balance parenting two small children, working, and maintaining my own mental health. I am an extrovert so not having interaction with others is very difficult. The other day I had a conversation with a friend and colleague on the sidewalk in front of my house with three large sidewalk slabs between us. This is what it has come to. If Zoom or, heaven forbid, the internet go down I’m not sure how I’ll cope.
When I say working, I don’t mean making money. In fact, I have never worked so hard in my life for absolutely no income. Working right now consists of keeping up with social media posts, keeping clients informed of the situation, and marketing telehealth sessions. When you do 100% hands-on treatment, convincing people you can help them remotely is challenging. Knowing the financial pressure this is going to put me under is also very heavy and exhausting.
As for our children, we feel compelled to keep them informed while at the same time keeping them sheltered from the worst of it. They don’t need to know that thousands of people are dying world-wide or that in some places doctors are having to decide who gets the last ventilator. At the same time, we need to answer their questions truthfully at a level they can understand, while choosing carefully how much we tell them. It’s a constant balancing act and it is exhausting.
When my social butterfly daughter cries because she can’t see her friends and doesn’t really understand why, I have to choke back my own tears. I just want to cry with her because seeing her pain tears my heart open, and I miss my own friends too. When my son throws a fit over something seemingly trivial because his emotions are too big to contain, it’s hard to stay calm because sometimes I want to lose my sh#t too. Their crises are a reflection of ours and that makes it all that much harder to support them in the moment. But we do because we are parents, and it is exhausting.
My partner went grocery shopping the other day. The whole experience was surreal. Nobody interacting, nobody smiling, everyone keeping their distance, empty shelves, cashiers behind plexiglass, and employees risking their own health so that we can eat. Then having to decide what to clean and how before putting it all away, all while wondering if you’ve brought an unwelcome guest home on your hands. It is exhausting.
I am so very grateful that the four of us have each other, and we have a safe place to hide right now. Then I think about single parents trying to do this on their own, people living alone, and people with no safe place to go. I think about my brother-in-law who lives in Madrid where he and his partner are confined to a one-bedroom apartment and not allowed to go out for anything except food or medical help. Right next to where they live an ice rink in a mall has been turned into a morgue. I worry about all of these people, and that exhausts me.
Meditation + Chocolate
As for my mental health, I think the only thing saving me right now is my morning meditation. The one really big positive thing that came out of my injury last year was adopting a daily meditation practice. I am getting up every day at 5:00 (when I am going to work it is 4:00 so I am sleeping in!) to spend at least an hour meditating, followed by a few minutes of solitary quietness before the day gets going with the kids. I know that I would be in a much worse mental state if not for this so I am very grateful.
And yet I am still exhausted. Constantly. We all are, and it’s normal under the circumstances. I have come to accept it as part of the background noise right now and I refuse to expect anything more of myself. If my creative juices aren’t flowing so be it. If I have no enthusiasm for arts and crafts it’s okay. If I lose my patience from time to time I will forgive myself. If I don’t get any de-cluttering done despite having no place to go for weeks on end, I don’t care. If I eat more chocolate than usual I won’t beat myself up for it. In fact, if I stop eating chocolate that’s when we really need to worry. I’m not there yet thankfully.
We are all doing the best we can under extremely stressful circumstances. If exhaustion, sadness, and short-temperedness are our roommates for a while it’s okay. We are all human and living something no one in the modern age has lived before. So be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Hold the people you love in your hearts if you can’t hold them in your arms. One day at a time is how we’ll get through this. One wobbly, rag-tag, imperfect day at a time.