Finding small joys in these long days
I haven’t used my alarm clock in eight weeks…
It used to sound religiously at 6 a.m. every weekday, the shrill iPhone ring startling me out of sleep.
Mornings were a whirlwind of packing lunches, getting the kids up and fed and dressed, last-minute homework and permission slips shoved in backpacks, scrambling out the door to make the bus… And then I’d sit in rush-hour traffic trying to get to my office on time.
Rush, rush, rush…
Evenings were no better. With my husband and I both working full-time, and my two boys active in sports and Cub Scouts and after-school activities, my calendar looked like the scrawlings of a madman.
I’d squeeze in the gym on my way home in a carefully crafted 45-minute slot. Dinners were often takeout or frozen pizzas.
Time used to be a sought-after commodity in my house. Now, we have nothing but time. The hours blend and the days blur together. Is it Tuesday or Wednesday? Does it really matter?
The coronavirus and its ensuing global pandemic have caused tragic deaths and deplorable economic fallout we haven’t even begun to see the depths of yet. But, being an optimist, I’d argue we can find some silver linings even in this situation…
The lockdown orders have slashed air pollution levels across the globe… Dramatic before-and-after photos show clear blue skies in Delhi, India and crisp city skylines in Beijing, China.
Teachers and nurses are being praised instead of professional athletes and celebrities.
A recent study found that California lockdown restrictions reduced crashes that kill or seriously injure people to 200 a day, down from 400 in the same period last year – saving lives and money.
More people are bicycling and hiking, spending time outdoors with their families. Homeowners are landscaping and gardening.
Here at my house, the kids used to compete for their dad’s precious attention. Now he leisurely plays chess with them and shoots hoops, and when they beg “watch me do (fill in the blank),” he watches.
I make spaghetti sauce from scratch. The tomatoes and garlic simmer for hours on the stove, their smell wafting through my house – an aroma usually reserved for a special Sunday supper that now can be made whenever I feel like it.
And let’s not leave out our four-legged family member. The dog is living his best life ever… His favorite people in the world are home 24/7. Some days he gets not just one, but two long walks, and the humans constantly eating at home means more table scraps for him.
I’ve always loved reading, but now I’ve had time to do even more… carving out hours to sway in my hammock with a book and notice the understated beauty of a red maple tree’s leaves. I wrote an actual letter (pen and paper in a sealed envelope!) and mailed it the old-fashioned way using a stamp. It was much more gratifying than hitting send on a text or e-mail.
Before, if I had a few free hours, I felt a nagging guilt that I should be at the gym or store, or socializing, or just doing something productive. If nothing else, the stay-at-home orders have relieved that pressure.
Of course, like most, I can’t wait for life to go back to normal… I’m in desperate need of a pedicure, and I’d love a haircut. I can’t wait for the kids to return to school and I can go back to my distraction-free, oh-so-quiet office. With warmer weather here, I crave to be in a lawn chair listening to live music with hundreds of other fans. I miss hugging my mom.
But until this ends, let’s try to find small joy in these crazy times.