I want to be optimistic about spending this time at home with my family. Plans are canceled— I can organize rooms I’ve been delaying. I can update my NFP teaching tools, work on some content creation for my social media, and have quality time with my kids and husband.
But that’s not happening. At least not very well.
Instead, I’m anxious. And I’ve realized it will be in recognizing the pain and grieving the losses that true growth, beauty, and blessing will come from this. We lose the power of this moment by minimizing it. “You’re just being asked to stay home. Stop acting like it‘s a big deal.” If you feel like this week and the coming weeks are a big deal— a stressful, anxiety provoking, scary, isolating big deal— I am right there with you.
Yes! Stay home. 100%. For your own sake as well as the sake of others. I write more about that, here. Its necessity doesn’t make it easy or a flippant request. The gravity of the situation says the opposite.
Too many people in my life are scared or hurting to pretend it‘s just a nice break. Not to mention the excruciating isolation this extrovert feels after just 3 days with minimal adult human interaction.
This was my prayer last night. “FINE! If you WANT me to be isolated (which is rarely good for me), see if I EVER make an effort to be in community again.“ I tend to gravitate toward a Bekah-and-Jesus island while insisting I do not *need* anyone else. This situation has the potential to strongly reinforce that idea. The prayer was a combination of a toddler’s tantrum and an angsty teenager. And then, I cried for all of the reasons listed below. This morning, I feel more at peace and willing to accept this place— maybe even to use it as a catalyst for growth.
There’s no way around it. You can’t go over it; you can’t go under it. You have to go through it. (There’s a “Going on a Bearhunt“ GoNoodle for kids if that’s now in your head. You’re welcome.)
The first step to going through it is stepping in with humility. Many people are talking about growing in grace and virtue right now. Patience, kindness, charity, faith, hope, and love— there will be many opportunities to practice these and grown in them. As much as I agree with that (and I do!), I am reminded that the foundation of all virtues is humility, according to St. Augustine.
What is humility exactly? A few priests I trust very much describe it as “simply acknowledging things as they are. Not worse, not better. Just the truth.” Humility in this moment is acknowledging your reality as it is. Not worse— not better. From there, grace can pour out and fall on truly fertile soil— even if it begins as angsty, angry, scared, heartbroken soil.
Here is my humble reality as of this morning. This is the truth of what is on my heart.
My friends who are teaching kids at home are overwhelmed. I wanted to welcome them with open arms in to this homeschool life— but it’s such a different situation. They have expectations and deadlines, kids completely out of their routine (not a happy child does chaos make), and an overwhelming amount of advice and ideas to sift through as they simply try to stop their world from spinning out of control. I want to hug them and invite them over for a few hours to let kids and moms blow off steam. That‘s what I’d normally do for a new homeschooling mom in my life. But #socialdistancing.
A sweet little boy very close to us is in the PICU on high flow oxygen for a non-COVID19 virus. I just want to wrap up his mama who is scared and tired and feeling everything a mama feels in that situation in a giant hug while bringing a basket of coffee and chocolate. Thankfully, there are ample medical resources to care for him right now. If our healthcare system gets inundated and filled beyond capacity— it won’t just be COVID-19 we will need to worry about. Treatment could be scarce for anything. (This is why it personally affects all of us to stay home and avoid illness exposure- regardless of COVID-19 complication risk. Again, click here for more thoughts on that.)
I have friends and family speaking about their child’s confirmation postponed, prom canceled, and graduation TBD. We adore a group of teens who come to our house every week. We can’t see them and have an in-person conversation about how they’re coping with all of these changes or grieving the loss of the school musical, the track season, or prom.
I am teaching NFP to engaged couples who are trying to comprehend the change to their weddings. What if the 10 person max rule is still in effect in May? They’ve planned and waited months— even years — for this day that may not be physically shared with family and friends. Devastated is the word I’m hearing most frequently.
Friends are losing grandparents. Miscarrying babies. Burying dear friends. (None COVID-19 related.) They are unable to be surrounded with the physical love and support we’ve come to expect in these situations. It‘s a helpless feeling to watch a friend suffer from a distance.
I am 27 weeks pregnant. When will this pandemic peak? When will it end? Will I be fearful to go in to the hospital? If the baby comes too early, will I be needing a NICU team in the middle of a crisis when half of their staff is in quarantine? There is talk of social distancing continuing in to the summer. This could mean my mom, sister, and best friend can’t come to see me right after she’s born. Isolated postpartum moms are not often healthy postpartum moms. (Check on your pregnant and postpartum friends, please. It’s a terrifying time to be in this vulnerable position.)
There are many more examples. Friends, who are therapists providing services to school children, sending texts with tear-streaked faces because they never got to say goodbye and now they have no idea how their kids are doing without services. Teachers who are trying to scramble to make e-learning happen while also juggling their own kids' needs. Friends and family working in healthcare or as first responders, putting on a brave face while also unsure what the following weeks or months will bring. People I care about who own small businesses or who happen to be a position where they had to notify employees this week that they'd be laid off until the crisis is over.
Yes, I am thankful for my health, the health of my family, and the relaxed schedule we currently are living. There is also an immense heaviness in my heart. It's okay for those to co-exist.
I am a woman of faith who cannot go to church right now— it’s indefinitely canceled. Yes, we homeschool— but I joke it should be called car-school. We are rarely home all day.
Weekly co-op: canceled.
Preschool for the 4 year old: canceled.
4 speaking gigs in 3 weeks: canceled.
Weekly GodTeens meeting: canceled.
Weekly field trips to the zoo/children’s museum/playdates: canceled.
I do realize my children are more insulated from the social distancing shock than others. In those moments, I am grateful. I also know this is an adjustment for many of us— even the homeschoolers. And parts of it are painful.
We will get through it. I trust there will be blessings that find their way in to this journey. But right now it feels sad, scary, and lonely. Honesty in prayer and honesty with those we love and trust is critical to creating an environment to see those blessings. Humility will lead to the growth many of us desire during this time, and it starts with acknowledging the truth of where you are at: the good, the bad, the joyful, and the sorrowful.
It’s the feast of St. Joseph. A solemnity in my home parish. And he was the most humble of all saints. May he pray for all of us to practice humility throughout this pandemic and for the protection of our families as he protected the Child Jesus in His infancy.