“It’s too much,” my friend said on the phone recently, her voice catching. “I’m trying to work from home and I’m supposed to be homeschooling and making meals. I’m also apparently supposed to be preparing for major changes in the economy and checking on all my friends and neighbors. Oh, and saving money and supporting local businesses. I’m supposed to be making this time calm and magical for my kids, too. There are supposed to be forts. And chalk art. Bear hunts. Keeping a COVID journal for my great-great-granddaughter. All this stuff. But most days, I’m not even showering. I can’t do all this stuff.”
My friend’s words hit me hard. Hearing all the expectations she is shouldering – right now made me feel overwhelmed – not just for her, but for all of us.
How do we honor our commitments to our families, our work, and ourselves during such unprecedented times? What does our “best” look like right now?
Something in me has shifted in the last week, as we enter week 1,793 of sheltering in place.
Life is being distilled down to the moments. I’ve given up on being magical 24/7 – or even 3/2.
Instead, I am being intentional about little moments.
Yesterday, I spent what felt like way too long sitting with my coffee in the kitchen, gazing into space. I lost complete track of time. Somehow, almost two hours passed. The coffee went cold. My thoughts churned, my stomach knotted and unknotted and knotted again.
“Ugh! I feel so unproductive!” I told a colleague mid-morning. “I don’t even know what I am doing with myself right now!”
But then, I pushed myself back from my coffee cup. I could be intentional – just for 10 minutes. I gathered up my teenagers and my husband – the dogs and a jabbering parakeet joined in, too.
“Hey. How are you guys? What are you learning? What do you need?” My kids spoke through broad smiles and through tears – sometimes in the same breath. My husband made a corny dad joke – something about ear hair and not being able to hear and the bit 5-0 looming large.
The cobwebs in my brain and in my soul cleared – at least for a while. A sense of gratitude and encouragement washed through the room. It was fleeting, but it was a moment. And now, just a day later, I see that it’s a memory – one that will carry us through our week.
Maybe it’s not about being great and shouldering all of those expectations. Maybe it’s about rallying as we can – being the architect of those little moments of encouragement and love. We can do it.
Now, where did I put that coffee cup?