My brain is trying to find an analogous lived experience that is similar to what we are living through now. I’m not sure anything quite fits.
The only thing that feels slightly similar is how I felt emotionally when Holden was a newborn. Things felt tenuous. We made plans hour by hour, not even really day by day. There was no delineation between the weekdays and the weekends. There was seemingly no end in sight. All of that is similar to how our days feel now.
When Holden was a newborn, I remember hearing the unhelpful statistic that newborns sleep 16 hours a day. And I think if you had NEVER had newborn, that doesn’t sound very hard. All you have to do is take care of something for 8 hours a day when it’s not sleeping, right? Why is that so exhausting?
I’m reminded of that when I ask myself why it is so hard to just get through the work day, these days. Yes, we are both partially working from home, during a crazy pandemic, with 3.5 year old, and limited childcare. But I mean, all you have to do is find 8ish hours a day to get work done. WHY IS THIS SO EXHAUSTING?
And yet, here we are. (The silver lining here that I do not let go unacknowledged, is that everyone in my household is getting an unbroken amount of overnight sleep. So in that sense, physically and emotionally we are doing SO MUCH BETTER than when Holden was a newborn.)
I feel like I have always been incredibly grateful for a safe,enriching child care option that allows me to work outside of the home. It’s never something I would have said I take for granted. Though I see even more clearly lately what a gift those solitary hours of focus in my office building.
Yes, of course, meetings could feel like an interruption, and I have hard a hearty laugh or two at that circulating meme that says “I guess we’re about to find out how many of these meetings really could have been emails.” But at least meetings were a scheduled interruption that allowed me to make choices in how I juggled my projects. Lately I am in a free for all of throwing screens at Holden with a wink and a prayer just to make a 5 minute phone call.
Garrett’s job, on the other hand, is a different kind of stress. We are on week two of our own self imposed lockdown. We are not leaving the house unless absolutely necessary, and really only seeing my mom. The challenge here is that he works in Transportation Finance, and the Governor is calling Transportation work “essential” at this time. No easy telecommuting is possible, mostly because they don’t have laptops despite their primary mode of completing work being is email and excel.
Luckily his department did a little managing upward, and they have been able to enact a modified work from home schedule, so sometimes he gets to work from home, and they have planned their meetings accordingly. It adds an addition scary layer to me though, because his going to the office a couple days a week expands the variables we are trying to manage in order to not contract or spread Covid-19.
So far, my mom is safe and healthy (and isolating, except for seeing us) and she has been a saint by coming over as much is humanly possible to play with Holden and help out. If I had my way, because she is 66, I would have her totally isolating. But I know that would be difficult for her emotionally, and honestly I literally couldn’t work without her help. Having her be here 40 hours a week isn’t reasonable or expected, so for now we are just doing our best and grateful she is a nearby resource.
ALSO – did I mention that I am about 45 days into a new job? Strange, strange times to be training/learning/new when you are basically confined to your house.
I’ve also, in the past two weeks, become accutely aware that 3.5 years olds are in an odd stage of transitional independence. Holden can do many things by himself, and can very clearly communicate what he needs. But he doesn’t have the capacity to understand nuance – like why we can run around outside, but not go to the park playground.
He is also not the type of kid who likes to sit down and watch tv, for better or worse. He is high energy, sometimes a little impulsive, and isn’t quite at a stage where I feel like I can safely leave him unsupervised for even short periods of time, so to put it mildly — we are juggling all of these things, in order to just stay home.
It is absolutely worth it, all of this. And I’m so incredibly grateful we have the flexibility that we have right now. I am happy to stay home and juggle all of this in order to potentially make things better for those who can not stay home during this time. But man, it sure does feel like a lot of work to just to get to work.