When I first heard about social distancing and rumors of an impending “shelter at home” order, I started planning how I’d spend my extra leisure time at home. I wanted to paint our guest bedroom, and clean out the storage area of our basement since all the shelves are, once again, completely full. (I honestly believe that stuff knows how to reproduce, because no matter how many times we clean out our storage shelves, they fill right back up with junk I have no memory of ever bringing home.) Knowing that I’d need something to keep my spirits up, I also planned to read tons of books, and even bought a jigsaw puzzle because I’ve always found it soothing to work on a puzzle. Unfortunately, the walls are still unpainted, the storage shelves are still full of mysterious junk, and the jigsaw puzzle is still in it’s box, unopened.
My daughter and son-in-law were lucky to keep their jobs and be able to work from home. But since his daycare closed, I’ve been spending my days caring for my two-year old grandson. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to do it. I love being with him and I know that in times like these, families have to support each other any way they can. I’m just saying that there was a reason I had my own children over thirty years ago, when I had much more energy and stamina.
I knew my life was going to change drastically when our area went into “shelter at home” mode, I just misjudged exactly how it was going to change. And that made me realize that even though all of us who aren’t essential workers are basically in the same boat, these restrictions don’t necessarily mean the same thing to everyone. I see so many postings on social media about how to fill our idle hours, and I can’t even begin to relate to that. I’m busier now that I’ve been in a long time, and I haven’t been this tired at the end of the day since my own kids were toddlers.
It’s only natural to assume that the way these life-saving changes affect us is the same way they affect others, but that’s not true. For some of us, it’s nothing more than a minor inconvenience, but for others, this can mean financial disaster because they’ve been laid-off, or heartbreak as they watch the business they put all their time and money into slowly die. Some of us almost welcome the break from our normally hectic lives, but for those who suffer from anxiety and depression, being told to self-isolate for a long period of time is devastating. And they don’t need anyone telling them that this “isn’t so bad.”
Obviously, we all need to do everything we can to slow down the spread of this horrible virus. But I think we need to remember that these necessary social isolation measures and mandatory “shelter at home” orders are much harder on some people than others, and so we need to be careful not to tell others how they should feel about it. And we need to let them tell us their own truth, without judging them, even if we can’t really relate to what they’re saying.
My truth is that I’m feeling everyone of my sixty-one years these days, and I hate dire speculations about how this pandemic is going to play out because they rob me of my ability to cope. But when I’m snuggling with my grandson while he drifts off to sleep, I also feel incredibly lucky for this temporary opportunity to be such a big part of his life and to witness first-hand how quickly he’s growing and learning new things. Which means that my days may not be idle, but they are still, in their own way, very blessed indeed.