Teetering, Thanks to COVID-19

The challenges of life at home seem exacerbated by the new responsibilities and the total togetherness.

We teetered onto the ice and clung to the wall during a visit to the ice rink at the Houston Galleria back in 2019. My then 3-year-old daughter lived out her Frozen fantasy, my five-year-old son zoomed as if this wasn’t his first-time skating, and I looked like a fawn flopping around on a frozen lake. My husband and I took turns watching our 1-year-old from the stands. Not long after we took to the rink, a private coach dazzled us with her spins and twists. Her client didn’t show up and lucky for us, she gave us an impromptu lesson instead.

Skating at the Houston Galleria in 2019

   The instructor told us, “think wobble, wobble, knees.” She pretended to fall with her arms outstretched before pulling herself forward, bending her knees, and resting her hands there. If your feet dart out ahead of your body—draw yourself inward.

   During this week of social distancing I’ve felt quite a bit like I’m flopping around on uncertain ground with all the news about COVID-19. My son’s kindergarten class cancelled. My daughter’s preschool cancelled. Fiesta (San Antonio’s annual City-wide festival put on ice until the fall.) A dear friend’s wedding cancelled. I’ve begged my Abuela in California to cancel everything. Cases in the United States topped 40,000. The world I knew darted out from beneath my feet. I needed to draw myself inward. Wobble, Wobble. Knees.

    It occurred to me to take the advice I heard last year quite literally kneeling and praying or settling into child’s pose with my knees pressed against my yoga mat or bending down to play with my kids. I’ve skipped going to the Yoga studio down the street to cull the spread of the infection—I could have it and not even know it (that’s the scariest part of this virus.) I miss my routine but understand the importance of what we’re doing. I’ve tuned into Twitter and the tsunami of illness and death statistics. I remind myself—to turn it off. Tuning into my breath is more important than ever. I can also tune into the beautiful real life still going on in our home. That’s where we are, that’s where we will be. Rest here.

   The challenges of life at home seem exacerbated by the new responsibilities and the total togetherness. We live in a small house and love each other deeply—why is this so much harder than I’d ever imagine? Patience like most supplies is dwindling.

My six-year-old working on worksheets for his distance learning.

Distance learning means convincing a kindergartener that doing homework is still fun—even if he can’t see his classmates. I’m wildly impressed teachers were able to move their curriculum online so quickly, but the kids and I are still adjusting. We’re wobbling. And I’m still reaching outward. Trying to understand what’s happening, what’s coming.

  We’ve spent hours free from screens and hours on screens. The kids have painted, vacuumed up ghosts, worked on puzzles. They dressed up to give us a “date night” from a play kitchen and serenaded us with play instruments. “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” never sounded so sweet. It feels historic and uneventful at the same time. I’ve broken up sibling quarrels and cleaned poop out of 2T underwear. I think we’ve finally hit our stride and may be out of the diaper phase (after three kids and six years!!!)

   Frozen II played on a loop for a few days. We’ve dumped out toys we haven’t seen in years and we’ve taken to the street to ride bikes if things have gotten particularly bleak. Thankfully we’re sufficiently stocked on food. But a trip to the grocery store will likely be a treacherous as entering Elsa’s enchanted forest.

What’s real and what matters is all here.

    The outside world may be on hold, hung in its own historic mist, but life certainly isn’t. The meals keep coming. The question “What’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner?” sends a shiver down my back. Time to get creative. By the end of this time at home, I don’t just hope to have a potty-trained toddler, I hope to have my priorities in order too. What’s real and what matters is all here. We’re lucky we’re healthy. We’re lucky we have shelter. We’re lucky we live in a community with so many brave doctors, nurses, and grocery store clerks. Nothing like a pandemic to bring you back to your priorities. Prayer, yoga, and play bring me back if I falter and I have faltered. I’ve fallen into fear. I’ve fallen into frustration. I’ve felt weary from all the social distancing. I miss visiting friends, sharing snacks, and chatting at the park. I know what to do—all I can do. Draw inward. Breathe. Wobble, Wobble, Knees.

Camaron Brooks is a stay-at-home mom and the author of Lost Between the Mess and the Magic (a book about motherhood, feelings, and manifesting your happiest home.) She loves yoga, coffee, and writing. She’s a member of SCBWI.

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