We asked, you answered. What have you learned about yourself during the pandemic, in 100 words or less? As it relates to your parenting, your relationships/friendships, your work-life balance. Here are your stories (and see here for more):
Mindless and meaningful quarantine
I had plans. Learn how to French braid, read all the books, and watch cerebral documentaries. Instead, it’s been Tiger King, Moscow mules and contouring videos on YouTube. It’s how I’ve been huddling in my anxiety. Allowing myself to indulge in the mindless to give my mind a break from uncertainty. To my family, I’ve extended the grace of understanding into how we all lean into what feels good and safe. For my husband, it’s nostalgic old school video games. For my daughters, it’s sleeping together in an indoor tent for two months. There’s no wrong way to seek refuge.—By Miun Gleeson
Co-parenting in quarantine
Co-parenting in quarantine is not something you discuss during mediation. One party (me) will never say: in the event that there is a global pandemic, I will sleep in a tent in my backyard while you have the children so you can stay at the house. The other party (him) would not have said: in the event of a torrential downpour you can probably just sleep in your bedroom. They told us to plan for anything, but we never planned for a global pandemic, or to sleep under the same roof again. The kids come first.—By Lisa Birch
Stone soup cinnamon rolls
Grandparenting, along with a thousand other aspects of life, had to change in quarantine times. No hugging allowed, but we still connected… I knew that my ten-year-old granddaughter Galayna loved cinnamon rolls. My baking lesson would substitute for my hug via a FaceTime bake-along. A snag, she had no eggs. Miles away I couldn’t help. ‘I’ll ask next door,’ she insisted. Miraculously, like in the fable ‘Stone Soup,’ eggs were shared despite scarcity. Hours later, finished rolls were photographed, plus two for the neighbors. Galayna learned about baking and I learned that both love and generosity outlive lockdowns.—By Lucille Iscaro
Growth comes in the stillness
While the parenting books told us boredom was healthy, our life allowed for none. For us, parenting was faster, better, more. Travel basketball. Honors classes. Jazz band. Private lessons. Carpool. Dinner at 4pm. Dinner at 9pm. Moms’ nights out. Quarantine stopped the hustle. Quarantine made us be still together. In the stillness, the athlete made funny videos. The musician never touched his trumpet. The boys got new bikes, cooked, and read for pleasure. Their bulging, tired eyes disappeared and their smiles widened. They found themselves. The parenting books should have told us to rest. Growth comes in the stillness.—By Jessica Goldstein
From Suffocation to Swimming in Lockdown
When lockdown began, I was drowning in my children. They were everywhere with their need. Snacks. Screens. Screaming. All of it. They needed all of me. I was suffocating. Then I realized: that was exactly it. My children were water, and I was drowning in them. I needed to surface. So I did. I began to walk, alone. I began to read, real paper books. Even 10 minutes gave me oxygen. Gave me back to myself. I could swim.—By Emily P.G. Erickson
Dog Day Afternoons
I always wondered what my dog did all day when I was gone. With the quarantine I learned it’s a lot of sleeping and anxiously waiting for me to come back home. It’s basically just like my living state when I’m depressed except I don’t know what I’m waiting for. I made a promise to my dog that when this is all over I will try to be as excited as he is when I come home to him. Then I called a few loved ones and made similar promises.—By David Icenogle
The mom plate.
The professor plate.
The spouse plate.
The writer plate.
The clean house plate.
They slowed, they wobbled — but I was keeping them all aloft, just barely.
March was a rage room, all the plates smashed with a baseball bat.
We’ve picked up the pieces and swept the floor about a thousand times. I mute a Zoom call to change a diaper. On date night we go all the way to the patio. I park outside the library to write.
I need a new metaphor for a condensed, whirled-together life.
Maybe I’ll make a margarita.—By Jenna B. Morgan
The world slows—to a screeching halt. I fear it will stop altogether. I resist the pace; holding breath in my lungs for far too long. We walk. Her legs bounce and dangle out of the stroller. I can tell she’s smiling. So is he. Proud brother in charge of pushing, navigating over tree roots. Two steps behind, the oldest slides his 9 year old hand in mine—gripping tight. I’m not sure who’s holding who, but we’ve got each other. Either way. Slow—nowhere to be. One foot in front of the other. The exhale comes. I could get used to this.—By Haley Shamblin
The ambulance sirens and the faint hum from a refrigerator truck used as a makeshift morgue was the eternally grim background noise in our apartment. Almost a decade before the pandemic, my husband died. Ever since, I feared leaving my children orphaned. This chronic worry ironically dissipated during quarantine. Together we had to figure out how to survive in a new world. This was a familiar feeling. We had done this before. Maybe experiencing another trauma alongside my kids recalibrated me because I stopped being afraid of dying and instead appreciated the time we had together.—By Alison Lowenstein
I have learned
to need less,
but crave more,
to consume more
and subsist on less.
I have learned
that spring arrives
in jarring increments –
remarkable and dishonest,
and that crying can be hilarious
especially when you’re dancing.
I have forgotten
so many things already –
the way the light shimmers at
the avenue’s vanishing point,
the triumph of getting served
at a noisy bar on a Saturday,
of a teeming playground,
the smell of garbage in the sun.
I have remembered
others, people from
past lives, the enormity
of childlike solidarity
with pets the strange
regression of being alone
together – safe, pacified,
interminable. —By Rebecca Faulkner
(or, why I never get around to doing my taxes)
Have you copied our keys?
my wife asks
as she makes rotis
and I play hide-and-seek
(for the eighteenth time today)
with our three-year-old son.
In the six months
since we’ve moved
to this new city,
to this new apartment,
we’ve become better
at this coordination game –
guessing who’d get home first,
who’d need to leave with the keys,
and who gets to wait at the door.
It has worked
(for the most part)
and when it hasn’t
we’ve had the rare chat
with a busy neighbor,
or just a moment
to pause and ponder.
these few minutes of uncertainty
in my hyper-efficient microverse
of guaranteed same-day delivery
and accurately forecasted showers.
no dear, I’ll get to it soon,
I tell her,
not venturing to offer
this virtuous excuse,
I scoot off to find our toddler
who waits patiently
in the space
between the wall and a dresser
that we’ve been meaning
to tidy up.—By Abhirami S.
Do you have a pandemic-related lesson you’d like to share with us? We will be updating this post with your stories. Submit here.
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