Today is March 24, 2020. On March 15, 2020, it was announced that my children’s schools were closing until at least April 20, 2020. I had heard rumors of this coming, but I don’t think I thought it would actually ever get cancelled. One by one, everything in our lives was cancelled. Ella’s theater musicals were cancelled. Max’s soccer tournaments were cancelled. Girl scouts, Hebrew School, soccer practice….you name it and it was cancelled.

After we all processed what was going on to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible, we started to create our new normal. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking three meals for my family. We have family dinners, family games and family movies. My kids were telling me over and over again how much they were enjoying being home as a family. My three kids began getting schoolwork from their teachers and completing it at home. My husband started working at home. I was seeing the bright side and was getting the message loud and clear that it was time for me to slow down and just go with the flow of all of this. My family was doing okay.

Then Saturday March 21, 2020 came. Facebook has been wonderful to help me feel connected to my friends and family. I scroll on it every day to see what everyone is doing and to say hello. I get some of the best ideas from my friends on Facebook when I see what they are doing with their kids. How else would we know that we should “Chalk our Walk” (leave positive messages on your sidewalk) or to leave a Teddy Bear in our window (which I need to go do)?   I also have seen people’s detail oriented daily schedules that they have come up with for their children. I felt my pulse quicken as I saw three different schedules pop up on my newsfeed. I quickly scolded myself for getting stressed and reminded myself that it is ok that a detailed schedule is not my style. My kids are getting all their schoolwork done every day. That is all that matters along with their mental health and physical health. We are all different with how we cope. I realize that some of you need a detailed schedule. I want you all to do whatever it takes to help you cope and get through this uncertain time. My girls are doing a lot of dancing in their spare time and that is putting a great big smile on my face right now as I listen to them dancing together.

Then I saw it. A local acquaintance of mine was doing her son’s Bar Mitzvah virtually from her Synagogue and she had a link for everyone to join them and watch this take place. One of our friend’s posted that her family was all dressed up and watching the service. One by one as I scrolled through Facebook there were friends posting that they were watching the service to show their support. The family who was having the Bar Mitzvah was alone in their Synagogue with their Rabbi.

Let’s just say I completely lost it. I started crying and crying and couldn’t stop. Lillie my youngest child quickly realized I was crying and came over to me and gave me the biggest warmest hug. Then my puppy Tanner (he’s 1 ½) came over to me and kept putting his paw on me. He was very concerned, and he always tries to comfort me when I am sad. I collected myself and took some deep breaths and went upstairs. I just kept crying. It was as if all the emotions that I had been bottling up were flooding out of me.

It had finally hit me. My family was probably going to have to do a virtual service for my son’s Bar Mitzvah too (Max’s Bar Mitzvah is in May). As I saw the family standing there alone having the service with their Rabbi I had so many thoughts. Thought number one was that I was so happy that they were actually able to do the service and that technology is a wonderful thing. My other thought was that I wanted our parents with us (maybe they will be able to be with us). I wanted our friends and extended family too, please don’t get me wrong. However, we may have to do this without the grandparents present and I was feeling a big stab in my gut. I am going to hold out hope and hope for the best!!

Seth (my husband) came upstairs to check on me and I told him I needed to be alone. I don’t know if I have ever said that to him before, so I am sure I puzzled him. I took a long hot shower in an attempt to warm up and decompress and collapsed on our bed. Seth came back and asked if I was ready to talk. I told him I was allowed to have a bad moment and he agreed. I may attempt to stay peppy and positive, but everyone is allowed to wallow and have a moment. We just don’t want to let ourselves stay in that wallowing place. Have your moment (or two) and snap yourself out of it.

That is when it began…….I had the stomach flu! You are probably wondering how on earth I got the stomach flu when I have been staying home as much as I possibly can. Lillie started us out, then Ella got it (before school was closed) and now it was my turn. That is my guess as to where this came from. Maybe my poor emotional state had to do with being sick and maybe my stomach decided to empty my feelings. Either way, it wasn’t a pleasant day. I was having an off day and that was ok. Tomorrow would be better.

I am feeling better both mentally and physically as I write this. This is a time when both our mental and physical health are not taken for granted. I realize we are all going to have good days and bad days. We will have good hours and bad hours. My friend just called to check on me. She was wondering how I was doing with this slower paced life and she was pleasantly surprised to see me embracing it.

My husband’s birthday was yesterday. I told him it was a birthday stuck home that he would never forget. Birthday celebrations everywhere are getting cancelled, changed or postponed. My daughters and I made my husband a homemade apple crumb pie which is his favorite. We ordered some of his favorite food from Andiamo Takeout. If you are local, you must try this place for takeout. Let us do our best to support our local businesses right now. He had good food, good dessert, and a family game night. He was a happy man. He was surrounded by his family. It was different from what we had planned, but this is the time for plans to change and for us to embrace family time at home.

This is a much harder time for extroverts. I am not at all saying that introverts aren’t having a hard time. I am just saying that social distancing is not something that comes easy for me. My daughter was very sad yesterday and told me she missed her friends. I told her to go FaceTime them. We are going to have to do virtual dates for now. Set up a Happy Hour on Zoom. Call one of your friends. Let’s all find a way to stay connected. I need to set up some virtual family game nights with our parents and with our friends. We are missing all of you.

My point in all of this is that now is a time to take care of yourself and to be easy on yourself. If you are a working parent judging yourself against the stay at home parents, please stop. If you are a stay at home parent judging yourself that you aren’t doing enough fun or educational things with your kids, please stop. If you are working and don’t think you are doing enough, please stop. This is not a time to judge yourself. I ask you all to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Stay home as much as you can. Reach out to people and stay connected. Give yourself positive messages. I am sure you deserve it.

When we all come out of this time, I think we will be forever changed. I hope for the better. Take care of yourself and stay healthy.

Laughing, Loving, Learning,

Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R