"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Quarantine Fatigue

Yesterday was a low day. Another low day, I should say, but this one was different because for the first time in a long time, it was the kids who bore the brunt of my mood. Typically, I've been able to maintain a calm, if not quite Pollyanna, optimistic front for the kids, only to collapse into sobbing the second my sister or brother or best friend since third grade asks me how I'm doing over the phone...or as soon as I get in the shower. Have you tried a cry shower? Highly recommend it.

Yesterday though, I just couldn't hold it together. I was snappy and impatient and nitpicky and quick to react. It was the culmination of anxiety, grief, anger, and hormones (didn't we all agree that periods needed to sit the pandemic out? WTF, body?), but also, it's fatigue. I was an overtired toddler with no productive place to put my feelings so I threw a tantrum.

It didn't feel good, tantrums never do, and it required some parent-child reconciliation. My oldest cut particularly deep when he responded to my rant with, "It's not my fault that you're high strung," and it's like....True. But also? Pot/kettle, apple/tree, whatever the idiom, it's you and me both, kid.

I keep telling the kids that We Can Do Hard Things and we can and we are, but every time I say the words to the kids, I ask myself, "But for how long?"

I'm really struggling with the Unknown Endpoint here. Even when our state reopens (not anytime soon, please, Governor...we're not ready.) and things start feeling less restricted, we won't have a vaccine that will likely prevent a resurgence of the virus in the fall. Our economy won't magically rebound. Our president won't magically be a smart thinker who is well-respected among other world leaders. When will things actually be better?

I remember staring down finals week in college. I remember looking at my list of projects, papers, and exams at the end of each semester and thinking "There's no way I can get all of this done." Then I'd organize a prioritized To Do List, fill out my calendar, and pick a day after the last assignment was due to set my sights on. "In two weeks, this will all be behind me. I can do anything for just two weeks." "On May 16th, I'll get a good night's sleep."

As much as I enjoyed being pregnant, I did the same thing as I went into labor. "As hard as this gets, I can do it. By this time tomorrow, I'll be holding this baby."

I can't remember another time in my life when I didn't know, at least vaguely, when the hard part was going to be over.

And I think what really stings with this current situation is that, when this IS all over--when we're no longer watching the daily death toll creep to heart-crushing numbers, when people have returned to work and school has regained a semblance of normalcy for our kids--I'll know that all of those people who defied stay-at-home orders and swarmed beaches and restaurants because they were tired of being at home...

...and all of those people who joined angry and aggressive protests demanding that their right to a haircut and manicure be restored...

...and all of those people who yelled at grocery store employees over empty shelves...

...and all of those people who forced a mom-and-pop ice cream shop to close because they were threatening the teenagers scooping their desserts....

...all of those Trump-loving, gun-toting, science-denying, racist, hate-filled idiots...are still going to be my fellow Americans and...they're going to keep voting.

That hard part isn't going to be over for a long, long time.