Thursday evening, 5:45 pm, day 10,526 of the Covid-19 pandemic. I had just gotten home from my day job in a local health clinic, in a large hospital. I had been on the phone all day. For the last few weeks, we have been getting calls from scared patients, adapting to our current normal of telehealth, and forging through a never-ending list of changes as our hospital fights to contain Covid.
When I got home I sat at the table and stared into space for a bit, my list of should be’s getting longer the more I sat there. I should be cleaning the living room up, using some time to do laundry. I should be cooking dinner, or working on classwork that I am severely behind on. I should be spending some quality time with my husband who, because we are both essential workers with different hours, I have barely seen. Then my sweet husband asked if I wanted to go for a drive and grab a drink at Sonic, and I broke.
Ya’ll all I wanted was 20 minutes of quiet. 20 minutes of no one. I felt so selfish admitting that, cause I know I have it easy right now. We are both still working. Of our 3 kids, one is happily hunkered down in his own apartment, one has chosen to quarantine with his dad, and my daughter is home, thoroughly enjoying being an only child for a bit. She and I have had movie nights and binge-watched The Great British Baking Show, and that is about the extent of what I had managed at home the last few weeks. But in that moment, all I wanted was quiet. I know he was disappointed, but the two of them went for drinks, and I curled up under my blanket and played a game on my phone. No noise, no people, no pandemic… for 20 blissful minutes.
After that, I was able to be mom and wife. I was able to pull off a fun Easter dinner/ 16th Birthday Party in quarantine fashion. I felt more like me, and not the overdrawn and overwhelmed person I was when I walked through the door Thursday night.
Like so many women I struggle with how to juggle all of my should be’s with all of my want to’s. I am an all or nothing type, if I can’t do it perfectly I struggle with doing it at all. I will dive in completely and take on more than anyone has time for, and then realize I can’t do it so I stop. Entirely. I struggle to balance “self-care” with responsibility. And I tend to hide in my blankets when I become overwhelmed.
But I am learning. Those 20 minutes were life-giving. I prayed, I took some deep breathes, and I reminded myself that it isn’t just me in any of this. I have a clear memory of times when my kids were little and we lived in a tiny apartment. I would open the curtains on the picture window and sit on the stairs right in front of the apartment. A few minutes of quiet. A few minutes of peace. So that I could collect myself and remember who I am. Those 20-minute breaks have always been an oasis for me.
We are all going through something unprecedented. Some of us are managing to do so with flying colors, finding new hobbies, creating and developing. Some of us are hiding under the covers and praying that this passes quickly before we lose ourselves. For some, this is just an added stress to an already hard and stressful time. Go easy. Remember that this season is just a season. You and I can pick the reigns back up whenever we are ready. If you need 20 minutes or all year, I promise you will find yourself again.
We will all come out of this changed. We will have discovered something about ourselves, about our world, that we didn’t know was there. We will come out of our blankets and find out we grew. Our families will heal, and our children will have memories of home that they never could have imagined before.
Go easy on yourself when you lose your temper. Go easy on yourself when you feel overwhelmed. Go easy on your self and feel free to hide under your blankets for a bit, bonus I hear the Easter candy is on sale right now.