Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds. ~George Santayana
My family and I are just finished two days of a self-imposed lockdown to help do our part to prevent the spread of Covid-19; today we learned that six local counties, including ours, would be under a mandatory “Shelter in Place” until April 7th. The last two days went smoothly, however, I have no idea how I will survive the next 22 days cooped inside with my husband and teenage boys.
As a writer and a coach, I work best in peace and quiet. The stillness of the house after my husband has left for work and while the boys are at school makes it easy for me to slip into my creative space so that thoughts and ideas flow freely. I rarely write on the weekends when everyone is home; I have a hard time staying focused with background distractions and interruptions: the sound of the television, the boys arguing, or my husband asking me a question. To be totally honest, my real fear of Covid-19 was not the virus itself, but having everyone home 24/7.
A few months ago, as Covid-19 began to make the news, I was a bit skeptical as I listened to initial reports. I told myself “It’s just another flu” and “It’s not in the U.S, we’re okay” as I followed my usual routine. I planned a trip to Denver to visit the colleges my older son had received acceptance letters to, and I remained excited about the trip to London and Paris my younger son and I would be taking over spring break.
I thought about the impact of H1N1 ten years ago – I lost a friend in my small, tight-knit mom’s group as a result of H1N1, a casualty as a result of a genetic lung disorder. Covid-19 didn’t scare me; I wasn’t worried about becoming ill or my children becoming ill, but I was concerned about passing it along to people with serious medical conditions – heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.
I was worried about my 82-year old father, with his chronic cough and who refuses to see a doctor. I was worried about my 74-year old neighbor who is battling cancer for the third time. I thought about my friend, MS, who has compromised lungs as a result of meningitis fifteen years ago. I hoped that COVID-19 would pass in a week or two.
On Thursday, March 12th, I picked up a prescription at the pharmacy for my neighbor with cancer, and texted a check-in with my friend, MS, and took my Dad out to dinner for his 82nd birthday. Earlier that day, each of my son’s schools announced they were moving to Home/Remote learning until April, after Spring break. The three Colorado colleges we were scheduled to tour at the end of the month were canceled. But still, I thought COVID-19 would pass in a week or two.
In the meantime, there was news of people stocking up on toilet paper, canned goods and medicines. Photos and video in the media showed lines of shoppers waiting to clear stores of water and hand-sanitizer. I held my breath, hoping COVID-19 would pass in a week or two.
By Friday, the term “social distancing” was being tossed around more frequently and “COVID-19” precautions were put in place in restaurants, stores, gyms, and banks. My husband, knowing my minimalist focus, “buy what we need and cook only what we’ll eat” made a trip to Costco that evening, purchasing eggs, cereal, nuts, and a few other staples in the event we were required to stay home. I still thought COVID-19 would pass in a week or two.
We spent Saturday lazing around the house, reading, and hanging out as a family as the rain poured down outside. Wanting to support local business, I picked up chocolate from our local sweet shop and pizza for dinner; “social distancing” didn’t seem so bad and thought, hey, if we keep this up, COVID-19 would pass in a week or two.
Waking up on Sunday morning, the game had changed dramatically: there was an email from the Pilates studio: classes were canceled, the studio closed. The sweet shop had closed for two weeks; the shelves in our local market had been cleared out; the libraries were closed. It was finally beginning to sink in COVID-19 was not going to pass in a week or two.
I did what I usually do to help me find control in a situation that is out of my control: I cleaned and decluttered and posted in my local “Buy Nothing” group. I gave gardening items to a mom who wanted to teach her children about plants and seeds; I gave my younger son’s old GeoTrax train sets to a mom of twin four-year-old boys, and I passed along puzzles to another mom. From their comments “Thanks! This will be perfect while my kids are home during Coronavirus”, I think they also thought Covid-19 would pass in a week or two.
I know that for the next 22 days – or maybe longer?! – I will not have peace and quiet. My husband will now be down the hall, working remotely, my kids will be doing their schoolwork via conference calls and online. Scout meetings are now via conference call and my older son’s CBT-AR appointments will be telehealth calls for the time being. The world around us is changing quickly.
Despite my fear of having everyone home 24/7, there are a few things I can do to make this easier: accept that Covid-19 is here now and could be here for a while and: adapt. If my boys can adapt to the changes for work and school, then I can adapt and find a new way to be creative.
And if all else fails, I can change up walking the dog from three times a day to six times a day. Who knows? Maybe everyone in the house 24/7 drives him crazy too.