It’s been nearly two weeks since the Kansas Stay-At-Home order was lifted (at least Phase 1 of it). While I’m happy to get back to business, there’s also a part of me that misses the quarantine life and feels somewhat GUILTY about it – and I know I can’t be the only one. I’m a bag of mixed feelings right now, and it’s so confusing…
I entered into quarantine filled with trepidation and disbelief that something like this could truly happen in this day in age. A small virus particle was bringing the world as we know it to a screeching halt? No way! I didn’t see any sick people. I didn’t have any symptoms, and with the exception of blizzards and ultra-cold temps, school is NEVER cancelled in our town (according to my kids). So I thought it may be an April Fool’s Day prank gone a bit too far.
However, incredulity gave way to stupor when ALL of our towns, states, countries, heck, the world was closed for business, with only slight exception. At the time that things were closing across the boards, we were in route to Arizona for a trip to see my in-laws who were temporarily living there. We had grand plans of making this a fun family trip, adding in some spring training baseball games, amusement park rides, movies, swimming, and dinners out. Nevertheless, the spring baseball training games did not pan out as the NHL, the NBA, March Madness, and MLB were all cancelled while we were on the plane to Arizona. Needless to say, this changed family plans for vacation and beyond.
When we returned from vacation, and as the days unfolded, despite the prevalent fear, social distancing, and inconveniences, there was also great possibilities for experiences with my nuclear family, space to relax and chill at home, and ample time to sit and enjoy conversations with loved ones on the phone and in person. I started to really enjoy the quarantine and the chance for white space in my life again. Life had become a rat race of work responsibilities, kid activities, continuing education, plans for fun stuff out of town, plans for fun stuff in town, plans, Plans, PLANS.
Well, now that my best-laid plans were all out of my control and cancelled - every one of them – I started to notice the subtle nuances of having the time to truly enjoy the slower, more relaxed pace of life with my family. Unfortunately, it became clear to me too, that the myriad of distractions pulling me in a multitude of different directions had caused me to lose touch with my family in a big way.
Quarantine has been like divine intervention in my life to shine a light on the good, the bad, and the ugly, and to force me to prioritize and choose how I can be a better mom, wife, daughter, and person. I’ve spent time not only parenting intentionally, with a focus on steering my kids back onto better ground, but I’ve also spent time on personal development, self-care, completing projects that have been undone for years, and starting things that I never had time for before. It felt good to once again have shared interests with my kids as we did a weekday devotional and workout together nearly every day with a group of families, entitled the #Mighty300. I coached them up in life skills, with almost daily lessons on cooking, cleaning, maintaining the house, and caring for the dog. We ate family dinner together each night, sometimes by candlelight (because who has the time to light those any other time?), and we actually sat back, took our time, and connected with each other, laughing, and telling stories that we hadn’t shared before. As my kids all near their teens, it felt like a gift to spend those precious evenings gathered together around the table, eating food that we had prepared together.
Also, my relationships with my parents and my 92 year old grandma had been lacking lately because I was always on the go, too busy to truly commit to a daily conversation, sometimes (embarrassingly) even a weekly conversation seemed impossible at times. It weighed heavily on my heart that these super important people weren’t even getting a little kernel of my time. Quarantine opened up our channels of communication again. I had the time and the energy to start reaching out, calling, asking for their advice and input, and committing to being a truly present daughter and granddaughter again. It has felt extremely satisfying to be able to look at these past six weeks and know that if I did nothing else, I connected to my family in meaningful ways.
COVID-19 has changed my life in many ways. While it has made it scary to go out to do a simple errand, interact with people out in public, and pick up a prescription from the pharmacy, there are also lovely things that came from slowing the pace of life down. The blessing of this unexpected “white space” in my life gave me time to focus on what I truly need. It gave me the freedom to breathe, to supervise, to coach, to love again, and to reconnect. I will always be grateful for this unexpected sabbatical from the rat race of life with three kids in middle America.