I have tried to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) about this so many ties over the past few weeks. I guess we now have hit the 8 week mark. It’s been about 50ish days since Tennessee started to shut down, which started with my daughter;s school closing for a deep clean long weekend and my wife’s high school musical almost being canceled on opening night. This has now turned into the shortest kindergarten year ever and the longest summer vacation – oh please let there be school in the fall.
This disease sucks. People dying sucks. People dying in the manner this disease kills them sounds dreadful. I am extremely happy that no one I know has officially tested positive and that they are all pretty smart people who follow the guidelines laid out and do the right things. I can’t imagine losing a single one of them – family member, friend, co-worker, mailman, pizza delivery driver, and hated former co-workers.
All this to say…I am struck by some of the more beautiful things that have come out of this. I have seen more people out and about in the neighborhood than ever before. I’ve found some interesting conversation with people when my kids and I go for a walk – maybe because people are so excited to talk to anyone other than their spouse (or themselves). But if this pandemic increases community, that may be a silver lining.
I have always been active with my kids and gone outside to play with them. But now it’s a MUST as I work from home and my upstairs “office” 5 days a week. I’m like a kid in a candy store when the clock hits 4 (or whenever I get “off”) and we get to go outside. Even during a rainy day last week, I got chairs out to sit in the garage and play with the toys in there but I forgot they are kids. And kids love to play in the rain (it wasn’t pouring) so they still got to play outside. And because we are all home earlier than on a work day and the days are getting longer and the commute isn’t sucking the life out of us, we have that much more energy.
One thing that I’ve appreciated is getting to pull out ALL the toys we have and actually use them. My sister in law got me this bottle rocket about 2 or 3 years ago. I just hadn’t pulled it out – didn’t have the time, needed to research, needed to make sure we had a big enough room to not blow out a neighbor’s window. Well…COVID gave me time to research. So one day, we busted the sucker out and the kids LOVED it…heck, I think I loved it more just seeing how it worked (the kids didn’t care for my explanation on water and air and pressure. They just wanted me to pump it up and do it again). We’ve busted out the bubble machines and chalk and the busy board and the balance beam and my little homemade PVC pipe car wash (which injured kid 1 and has to be redesigned). We’ve used the things we actually have around the house.
One thing about this stay-at-home order and the response to it has kinda perplexed me. I am definitely not the social butterfly type but the family and I are rarely bored on a weekend or time off. This area has a ton of things going on: there are touch-a-trucks and food truck festivals and indoor play places, climbing gyms, parks, etc. That’s not even counting the kids regularly scheduled activities like gymnastics and dance – or the birthday parties. I love my house and being at home – but I also love getting to show the kids the world, especially if they can meet up with a friend along the way.
All this to say, as adults we spend most of our waking hours during the week at work. We rarely get to spend time at the house that we put so much of our energy into. The house that we CHOSE to live in. In the area we CHOSE to live in. I get that we can’t all afford our dreams houses but you can turn even a tent into something that is yours. Sure, I am noticing that the kids rooms are about 50 sq ft too small and the lack of a pantry is killing us, especially when we are doing less shopping trips and stocking up to keep ourselves safe. But I get to look at the beautiful pictures and canvas prints of my family that I hung on the wall or take a little extra time at lunch “break” to spackle a few holes in the wall I never “had time for”. This house is far from perfect or even ideal for the 4 of us but it’s home and staying home is nothing to argue or whine about.
I am not a glass half-full person by any means. I probably fall more on the other side. But there is beauty in what is happening and I am so curious to see what happens on the other side. Some things may be better off not returning to normal.