Hope Springs Eternal

Almost 8 weeks in home quarantine due to the coronavirus, and I finally hit my proverbial wall today. My body and mind are totally exhausted. I know that so many of you can relate! This new normal has effected all of us in profound ways that we never expected. While I did know that this inevitable energy drain would happen the longer the pandemic goes on, I didn’t think it would be so intense. I wish I could retreat to a sleep chamber and awake when this whole thing is over, but of course that is not an option. Our special children in particular are counting on us for so many things and the list is endless from sunrise to sunset. Never have I appreciated school staff more than this moment! I’ve had a lot of time to think about how amazing our educators are and all that they do for our kids. Boy, do I miss them! Despite my best efforts to replicate their lessons, I fall woefully short. Brian is not a virtual learner, though he is beginning to like seeing familiar faces and participating in music-oriented online activities. He is also participating in some of the therapy sessions, but otherwise he has no interest and it’s a real struggle for him. At the beginning of our home learning, I was concerned about not keeping up, but now, if we are able to eat 3 square meals, get showered/dressed, and take a daily walk, that is a good day. It’s amazing how priorities can change over time…

I have had to learn that I am not the equivalent of 10 school staff, despite my initial enthusiasm and delusion to think that I could be. I have also had to accept that every step of progress will have its own reward, whatever it is, and to focus on that. There will definitely be more “bad days”. Disrupted sleep, endless caretaking demands, lots of frustrations from being cooped up at home, will go on, but not forever, though it certainly feels that way right now. I have had a good cry or two (or three) during this unprecedented time, and despite feeling so sad/ frustrated at times over circumstances that I can’t control, I must confess that the tears have been cathartic in their own right. Letting out the frustrations/steam has been helpful, even though the circumstances haven’t changed.

We are very fortunate that our house is large enough for Jim, Brian, Mom, and I to “spread out” as we need to for privacy. As much as we are enjoying special time together, we also need moments to call our own. I covet those daily private times and can’t function without them now. The other day I took a long walk around the neighborhood by myself, something I had always done prior to the pandemic, but it had been several weeks since my last excursion. It felt like such a relief to be out alone in the fresh air with my own thoughts, not having to take care of anything or anyone, and to just BREATHE!! As the weather continues to warm up, I have promised myself that I will continue to take those solitary walks whenever possible, and they are, indeed, essential to both my mental and physical health. Everyone has to figure out ways and means to cope during this lockdown. And all of us need to experience hope to assure us that life will resume, even in a “new normal” way.

I experienced such hope, along with many fellow New Jerseyans, last weekend when our county parks reopened. Talk about kids in a candy store! All of us were giddy with excitement to leave the house ; Brian hadn’t been in a car in 7 weeks and literally bolted for the car door! We were fortunate enough to get a parking spot and thoroughly enjoyed Verona Park in all of its incredible Spring splendor. It was a wonderful afternoon of sights, fresh air, and a change of scenery at an ample social distance. I could envision the big smiles underneath people’s masks as we were walking along. Everyone was feeling grateful and normal, albeit for a few hours, with the hopes of repeating this sublime experience again. It is indeed my prayer, that slowly, but definitively, we will reopen and start to get on with our lives, for we can’t be in lockdown indefinitely. We need hope and tangible evidence that there is a future to look forward to outside of our homes. Going to the park last weekend was the first glimmer of hope that I believe many people needed to see!

There have definitely been valuable things that all of us have learned from the coronavirus, such as better hygienic practices. Wearing masks and keeping a social distance are also sound procedures, as we transition back to life outside our four walls. We can and should continue to do those things, as we start to reopen. Common sense should also remind us that elderly and medically fragile individuals should take extra precautions, while the rest of the healthy population proceeds back to work and eventually school, slowly, but surely. There are economic and other medical consequences from the coronavirus that our nation will be facing long after a vaccine for Covid 19 becomes available. It will definitely take time for Americans to recover from the fallout of this virus on so many levels. We will continue to need hope and resources for the times that are ahead, that is for sure!

Springtime in our backyard

In the meantime, today is a beautiful day in early May, with the signs of Spring all around us. The days are slowly becoming longer, warmer, and hopeful… I am dreaming of going to the beach this Summer, even at a social distance from other beach goers, and can smell the salt air of the ocean, see the waves crash on the shoreline, and feel my toes in the soft New Jersey sand. I can taste that smooth delicious custard ice cream, and can’t wait to have a big slice of pizza on the boardwalk. I bet you can envision these things too! Each day we are getting closer to Summer and things like this to look forward to… Our government hasn’t formally announced yet what will happen regarding the beaches, but I would like to think that they will open, in a “new normal way” of course, but at least they WILL open at some point , like other places will eventually as well. Life must go on! I know our children would also wholeheartedly agree and will be just as happy as we are when we can finally move forward with our lives again .

Until next time, thanks for reading! 😊