Some of us are suddenly homeschooling.
Some of us are suddenly single.
Some of us are suddenly just surviving.
Last night I realized that I hadn’t taken a step away from my kids in seven days except to sleep, that every single minute of my life since Friday, March 13, had been spent spinning around the 24/7 presence of my kids as every single activity, commitment, and way of doing life was suspended, cancelled, or postponed.
Suddenly Less Simple
Friends of mine and I have sought community in short gasps, like people coming up from the water for a breath of air. We’ve used FaceTime, MarcoPolo, FaceBook, SnapChat and others. When we can. The efforts are striking but even these normally simple platforms for convo are suddenly less simple.
I usually can catch up with family on the phone while driving to this or that. I send texts in the parking lot before and after preschool pick up. I have tons of little moments throughout the day to send a funny Snap. But none of those times exist now.
What’s more, I’m not used to being so vulnerable and exposed! Usually before I post something on FB or send a Snap, I make sure I’m half-way presentable. But presentation has gone out the window! I went 48 hours without changing my clothes. And more hours than that without makeup. And more hours than that without dealing with my hair.
(Now we know where she gets it!)
I’ve joined multiple Zoom calls to manage my commitments, but in retrospect, I joined most of them at the most inopportune time–when my attention was incomplete, spread among five lurking, needy children (and I mean needy in all the right ways) AND the wonderful people projected there on the face of my laptop.
Suspended here in thought, listening to God’s voice becomes the only thing that keeps me afloat. Yet I realized last night that it had been days-long since I had sat down in silence to do so.
See, in an instant life was upended.
School was suspended for three weeks on Friday, March 13, and though the break was expected, the length of time wasn’t. The kids knew it was likely to happen when they hopped on the bus that morning and I think they were excited about an extended Spring Break. So I’m certain there were no goodbyes or fears in their minds and hearts.
But on Friday, March 20, just SEVEN days later, we learned that school will be completed at home for the rest of the year. One-by-one I have been letting the kids know. No birthday celebrations or play dates or slumber parties or chats on the bus or…bus! They are fine.
But suddenly I am not.
I’m a vivid dreamer. Since childhood I have been able to recount with detail dreams I have, most of which can easily be traced to deep fears of losing everything from limb to life. This week my dreams have become entangled with CDC maps and critical moments, the kind where though your brain flies into action, your feet and fingers cannot. In fact, just this morning I pulled myself out of a dream that our house had been broken into for a consecutive night. In my dream, no one was hurt, but my husband was standing in the kitchen reading an article via phone whereby through technology, our house was marked with a red dot among others in our neighborhood, indicating a break in. We both stood there in full acceptance realizing that break-ins were just going to happen. We were unable to be alarmed. We were unable to be moved to any action whatsoever.
Is this the way it works? Panic then paralysis? If so, I’m sinking.
Last night I sat….err collapsed on the couch when my husband got home. The day was just fine, no crazy moments or exceptionally difficult stories to recount.
(Here I must interject to say that there are SO many stories to tell of the fun projects, experiments, and escapades these last seven days have afforded us! I have truly loved every moment!! I do plan to share these when I figure out the new rhythms and routines.)
The kids had worked on a puppet show and were excited to perform it. But as we piled on the couch to watch it in the upstairs playroom, I was suddenly suffocating. The opening scene was between two ghosts, both of whom proceeded to screech and howl. For 10 straight minutes. The paper-bag ghouls slammed themselves into their own scenery, sending googley eyes flying. Suddenly my nerves began what felt like a visceral revolt. My ears were ringing, hot from the inside out. We cut the show short and came downstairs to decompress.
But the TV was so loud. It felt like someone had planted a bass in my brain–but from every direction. My oldest daughter, who is eight, asked me if I wanted to go upstairs and lay in my bed. At that moment I was suddenly sure that silence was the only solution.
We raced upstairs and snuggled beneath the layers. I knew what she wanted. Spelling Bee. So we played that and all her other favorite NYT treats–Tiles, the Crossword Mini, and such. But even her whispers by my side were like clanging gongs. So we played in silence.
Utter, golden, silence.
Later that night I demanded that Christian diagnose my sudden noise intolerance. We came up with something that started with the word idiopathic. We laughed. But it’s just been one week. If in one week I have gone from mom-conquering-schedules-and-commitments-with-finesse-and-fun to human-searching-for-earplugs-to-block-out- volume, what will I be like on day 10 or 14? Or 34? Or beyond?
I think the answer lies in simplicity.
This morning post-quiet time, things are suddenly simpler.
Circumstances are changed and paying attention to that is everything. Life as usual is being redefined. I am suddenly homeschooling. I am suddenly scheduled (which doesn’t come naturally for a free-spirit!). If I attempt to keep the momentum of life before Fateful Friday, I will sink. If I do, I may drift too far out in a sea of Zoom calls, emails, and news. I may be suffocated by the noise.
God is still working on me in this time, narrowing my focus and showing me exactly where He wants my commitment.
And right now that is on and in the 7-person and a dog family that comprises our house in Newburgh, Indiana.
It’s suddenly very simple.
And now begins Spring Break!
I am praying with you as you all navigate your current journeys and key in to God’s voice, that you can hear His instructions and gain clarity on ways to BE in this time. Rather than fight the changes by trying to keep your old pace, old rhythms, and old expectations, re-evaluate everything.
This pandemic is scary and I am not dismissing that at all, but it is presenting us with the rare opportunity to very specifically ask God exactly what He exactly wants from us. Draw a circle around your house and ask Him what He wants of you in this specific place. And if you’re working from home or you’re part of the essential workforce like my hubby, include those spheres too.
There is something unique about this time!