Quarantine has been effective for 4 weeks as of tomorrow, and now that my initial fears and worries are somewhat subsided and I’ve had time to think, reflect and breathe, it’s time to bring the COVID-19 situation to the blog.
4 weeks ago, I don’t think anyone really knew what was going on. I mean, we all knew that the Coronavirus was coming for us, but we didn’t know what was an over/underreaction. The toilet paper situation was just insane. And I literally was nervous to even go to the store for the first week because some lady decided to pull a gun on another customer over said toilet paper at our nearby Market Basket. Now, 3 weeks later, the new normal is wearing masks and standing 6 feet apart from everyone just to go get some groceries. Am I the only one who feels like they have to look over their shoulder when they go out?
To say adjusting to this situation has been challenging is an understatement. Most of the transitions people have suddenly experienced weren’t really foreign to me when these state emergencies and Stay-At-Home orders went into effect. I’ve worked from home for nearly 3 years… so working from home was nothing new to me. I’ve run my business myself for nearly 3 years… so handling all the business tasks alone was nothing new to me. I’ve had two kids relying on me for going on 6 years next month (that’s a sappy post for another day). So it’s not like suddenly I was responsible for two kids and didn’t know what I was doing. Me and my husband shared a car for nearly 2 years after my car was totaled in an accident. So, me rarely leaving the house was fairly normal for me.
What wasn’t normal…was having to teach two kids on two completely different wavelengths two completely different sets of coursework, and figuring out what they know, what they don’t know, what and how they’ve been learning to a T, and how to pick up all the pieces and organize the mountain of paperwork that we were given.
I didn’t know what the frig a sight word was. Anytime I asked Skylar what she did in school each day after picking her up, I received nearly the same response of “we had outside recess! And we played on the playground and had centers!” Me: what are centers? What did you learn in them? The response was always, “oh, well I don’t remember.”
Turns out my children are ridiculously smart and remember a lot more than they let on. It’s like… I’ve known they’ve been learning and growing and know how to count and read new words. But it was never really spelled out to me. So when we received a packet full of papers that had no real clear instruction and I had to figure out which papers went to what… I was overwhelmed.
I’ve always appreciated school teachers. I’ve always given credit to the fact that school staff put up with so much, and the amount of stress I am sure they experience throughout the year is incredible. But after 4 weeks of trying to do it all with just TWO kids, never mind a whole classroom full of kids… my love and appreciation is on a whole new level.
My kids’ school has been phenomenal. Their communication with us and being available virtually whenever we need something… I’m in awe. Their teachers are so sweet and I feel so much more connected to them. I understand who they are as teachers and I even feel like I’ve befriended a few of them. For as hard as it’s been for me in trying to figure this all out and find patience in teaching my own children things they normally learn in a structured environment, it’s not nearly as hard as it is for the students and staff. Seeing Skylar and Zakaree’s faces as they jumped on a class FaceTime for the first time since school was shut down was one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever seen.
And then today the school sent us a video montage of photos they took for their students and I lost it. I sat sobbing as my daughter hugged me with watery eyes and said “mommy, I really miss them. When can we go back?” Trying to explain to a 4 and 5 year old why they can’t go back to school is hard. Seeing their eyes wander as their wheels turn trying to grasp what I am saying leaves a lump in my throat. They know they can’t go back to school. They know there is a scary virus hurting people. But they don’t really know.
I used to complain about my kids being on two different school schedules — Sky would go for morning half day Kindergarten and Zak would go to afternoon half day preschool. I would pick up Skylar and sit in the parent pick up line for 45 minutes to ensure I was the first in line, because I had to race back to the house to get Zak on the bus. Sky got out of school at 11:30. Zak’s bus picked him up at 11:40. It’s a ten minute drive from the school to our house. You can imagine my panic three days a week trying to make sure we got from point A to point B without speeding too fast or missing the bus.
Never again will I complain about parent pick up or their half day schedules. I miss their schedules, which for over 100 days of the school year I was wishing for these schedules to end. I miss having time out of the house to drive and wait for my daughter to come barreling out of the school doors yelling “mommy mommy!” I miss pulling into our driveway and seeing the bus coming down the road, and the excitement Zak would have as the bus doors opened and he saw Miss Betty, his favorite bus driver. I miss that routine.
It’s hard for everyone. There is not one person who isn’t affected in some way by the Coronavirus. Yes. It’s a simple fact that a lot of people have it worse than others. But it doesn’t exclude the fact that in some way, everyone is hurting, and no one should be making another person feel bad for the pain they may be experiencing. Whether it’s pain from someone they know battling the virus, a job loss, a reschedule of a wedding or event, a business closure, not being able to go to school or having a hard time being stuck at home in general. Pain is pain. And no one has the right to shame someone else for what they are experiencing as pain.
My personal pain is knowing my kids aren’t getting everything, that they usually get at school out, of me. My personal pain is hearing the pain in my bride and grooms voices as they say “Jess I don’t know what to do,” and not being able to fix it for them. My personal pain is watching my wedding season fall apart and having no control over it.
It’s no secret that small businesses are hurting right now. I never thought a virus would sweep through and bring my business to a screeching halt. I never could have imagined I’d need protocols in place for when a virus brings the world to its knees. How could I have possibly planned for this when I’ve never seen anything like it happen in my life? There aren’t manuals for photographers on what to do when the world shuts down and you can’t photograph weddings. At least there weren’t. I’ve been seriously brainstorming though (another blog for another day perhaps).
All in all, I’m thankful for my family and I’s great health. I am thankful my husband can work from home and provide income for us while my business is forced to be closed with no solid reopen date and no money coming in. I’m thankful that my business has given me the ability to be home to teach my kids, because if I worked a normal 9-5 job, this whole situation would be much harder. I’m thankful for my kids’ school and the love they have received from their teachers. And I’m thankful to have another day to wake up and do this all over again. I could complain and drag my feet and be overly bitter about this, but what I’ve come to realize is, what’s the point?
I think we can all agree this sucks. But I hope people can find some positivity through this situation. Find something to be happy about. Find a reason to dull the pain you may be experiencing. Get creative. Think outside the box. And don’t let this Coronavirus consume you. It’s hard not to go to dark places or think negatively, so this your photographer’s reminder to see the light and appreciate everything you do have <3