Coronavirus Diaries: Week Seven

April 13

I honestly don’t know how families who have two full-time working adults AND children are doing this right now.

Granted, my 3-year-old is especially clingy, so she rarely “plays on her own,” which means that unless she’s watching TV, she’s probably making me play with her. And when she is watching TV, I am trying to check my work email, my personal email, my writer email, or trying to relax and take a break myself, but am likely just cutting up apples the whole time because she snacks on them like a madwoman.

Chris, on the other hand, is at his desk from 7-3:30, taking phone calls, web meetings, writing emails, only budging, really, to refill his tea or grab a bite of food (which he eats in front of his computer). That’s what full-time work looks like for a lot of people during this Covid-of-our-discontent: 8 hours in front of their computer uninterrupted.

How would this possibly work if I, too, had a full-time job to tend, with no one to watch Amelia?

I do have a job–jobs–to attend to, though: online library work and my own personal writing. Now in this full-time-mom mode, it’s impossible to accomplish all of my tasks in one day.

I keep thinking I can find time in the day to make it all work. That if I just found the right routine, I could exercise for an hour every day, work for two hours every day, write for at least hour every day, and still be able to give Amelia the attention she craves while Chris is working. There has to be a way to fit it all in.

And yet, I am trying to give myself some grace, to allow myself a semblance of failure and acceptance, to know that I can’t do it all, that I don’t have the energy or the stamina to do it all right now; I rarely have the stamina to do it when I’m at my best, let alone in these outstanding circumstances.

April 14

A truly rotten day. Amelia didn’t want to listen. Everything was a battle today. The minute Chris emerged from the office and said he was done with work, I said, “THANK GOD” and took his place in the office, closing the door behind me. But with my newfound freedom, all I really wanted to do was sleep. I nearly put my head down on my closed laptop and took a nap, but I couldn’t reconcile giving up the small amount of me time. Eventually I got some writing down, and the fatigue and bad attitude started to dissipate.

A lot of people I talk to seem to have found what they’re calling “a new normal.” I’m not sure we’ve found that yet. Then again, what is “normal” anyhow with a toddler in the house? The routine is predictable, and maybe that’s all people mean when they call it the new normal. Every day is predictable because every day is the same.

But we haven’t found a harmonious rhythm. It’s a jazz riff. And I hate jazz. Too much cacophony, too much chaos. The songs never seem to end. They just keep going and going and going and going…

And it’s snowing. In April. Give me a break.

April 15

It’s really snowing today. Inches accumulating. Last week it was 60 and we were playing in the grass. Today it is 30 and we’re playing in the snow.

Amelia is happy to welcome it back. Bundled in her snow pants and parka, her little hands wrapped in water-resistant pink fabric, she scoops up handfuls of snow and launches them into the air.

“Do you want to build a snowman?” she quotes Frozen. I try to explain to her that this is fluffy snow, not packing snow, a distinction she will learn soon enough as a Michigander, but not yet at her early age of 3. Instead she answers, “Help me build one.”

There is such a great difference in everyone’s attitude when it’s possible to go outside, even if outside means snow pants and parkas. Earlier this week, unyielding winds kept us inside, and the days dragged on. All this is much easier to handle when there’s a change of scenery, a change of play, a breath of fresh air.

April 16

I had a work call this morning via Zoom. We decided to use that platform instead of Teams because you can see everyone at once. I found there to be a strange new intimacy that comes from being able to see people in their “natural habitats.”

With my coworkers, I know so much about who they are at work, but have only visited one coworker’s house. Two of my coworkers have been to my house. So I know most of my coworkers from what I see at work only.

I enjoyed seeing these small snippets of their abodes, these hints of their interior design, the tastes of their styles, the sense of their leisure. While on the call this morning, I got up and made a piece of toast with apricot jam; the whole process, I realized after, they could see. They saw my fridge door open, all the kid artwork hanging from magnets. They saw that I put butter on the toast first and then the jam–a rather indulgent method. They saw what tea kettle I used when I filled up my mug. But I didn’t really mind, because they’re friends, good friends, and I’m okay with them seeing me in my normal environment. I enjoyed seeing them in theirs.

April 17

It’s still snowing. Come on, already.