I went to Shop-Rite a few days ago and there were signs that said, “Do your part, six feet apart!” I was looking for bananas and a few other essential household items. Most of the shelves were empty, a result of panic buying. Once I finally got on the express check out line, a woman in front of me sneezed. She turned around nervously, apologized profusely, proclaiming, “I swear I’m not sick, it’s just allergies!”
My wife and I are both working from home. We’re the lucky ones. So many have lost their jobs and we’re sliding into a recession. But it’s not easy managing two young children who are three and one years old while trying to take conference calls, Zoom Meetings, and respond to the crisis of providing educational services for a school district of 40,000 students. Some days feel like months. And working from home is exhausting. It exacts a different kind of toll.
Each weekday, to preserve some kind of normality and routine, my wife and I wake up at 6:00 am (an hour before the kids) and sit on the couch to drink our coffee together. After one cup, we listen to a daily meditation, which centers us for the day ahead. I’ve also been eating really healthy, something I feel pretty good about considering the profound disruption to all my other routines. But going out in public to the supermarkets to restock the refrigerator makes us both nervous as the cases of COVID-19 continue to rise dramatically.
I keep wondering, what are the psychological effects of social distancing? How are people finding ways to cope with the crisis? How will this change the world in ways we can’t even anticipate? How will this change education and schooling in ways we can’t anticipate? How will this transform the ways we interact with one another?
On Day 2, I said to Ani, “I feel like we got this, we can do this. How long has it been?” She said, “36 hours” and the thought of this reality becoming the new normal until July or August really freaked me out. There are moments when I feel myself slipping into an abyss of despair, anxiety, and disbelief. Most of the time, though, I’m just cleaning up the next spill or changing the next diaper.
Perspective is everything. I can find all the things to complain about or gratitude everywhere. I get to spend so much time with my children! Which category does that fall into? Only kidding! Before the pandemic, and even still, I struggle with parenting. When I have to take on both children without Ani’s help I feel overwhelmed. I feel like I’m not so great at knowing what to do. Spending all day with them provides me with opportunities to learn what it really means to be a caregiver.