Today was not my day.
I often feel that my writing is most impactful, most accurate, when my illnesses are at a moderate level. When there is a low hum in the backdrop of my life, when I’ve overcome the worst of something and am at a manageable distance. . .but not when I’m in the midst of a storm, nor when I’m too far removed from the darkness.
At the moment, my anxiety is somewhere around an 11 – but I feel that it’s important to share that too.
It feels like a roller coaster right now for everyone. Every day is another announcement, another fear, another new normal to navigate. Each moment where we think we have something figured out, where we think we can breathe, is interrupted by a precipitous fall toward the unknown.
And I feel ridiculous for writing about it when everyone is in the same boat. When everyone has been knocked sideways over the past week or two, when everyone is scared and wondering. I know there is so much to be grateful for, so much good, so many areas where we are better off than so many. I breathe my prayers through the day, stopping to inhale a “Father, hear me” and exhaling a “Calm the storm in your beloved child.”
And it helps. I feel it let go a little with the comfort of knowing He is here.
But today was not my day.
We are on day 2 of online learning with our kids, although we have essentially been home for five days. And yesterday went fairly smoothly – the kids eager to get up and get their assignments completed, a small checklist of other things for them to do – go outside for 20 minutes, clean your room, do something wiggly – I was able to work and navigate their needs, while keeping them relatively quiet as my husband worked in the next room. But even as smoothly as it went, I spent the day on high alert, shushing every outburst, running to handle every upset, trying with every fiber of my being to reduce the stress of my husband’s day.
My husband works in an industry that has been highly disrupted by all this. Four days ago he found himself with almost every project he manages put on indefinite hold, employees possibly without billable work, and the ripple effect has been enormous. I see the stress in his eyes and in the posture of his shoulders and I ache to make it better.
I also have a child five hours away, in her college town, scrambling to decide the best course of action as classes were postponed and then finally shifted to online learning for the remainder of the semester. Trying to decide if she should essentially quit her part time job and come home, or ride it out, can she find an apartment before they shut down the dorms, will her part time job hold?
It’s all so much, and yet at the end of the work day yesterday, I breathed a sigh of relief. We had managed, we had done ok, we were going to make this work. We FaceTimed with our college kid and talked through the possibilities and we were all ok.
But this morning, I woke up and it was all too much.
The news online and the rumors on social media and the ‘what ifs’ just threw my heart into its chaotic rhythm, and I felt the tears in the back of my throat over and over, and it was just too much.
I walked into our gym to check out equipment to use at home, saw the sadness on the face of my coach, the fear of the unknown, of when would we all be able to be together again, and it was just too much.
We logged onto the online learning this morning to discover the system was overloaded with users as the whole world transitions to distance learning, and my son – the high anxiety, over achiever – who was also overly tired as we let him stay up too late in an attempt to make this fun and less stressful – melted down with worry that he wouldn’t be able to complete his work. No amount of reassurance, of promising we would try later, of trying to get him to do something else would work. He cried and fussed; and every time I shushed him as I imagined the distraction it was causing to my husband, my panic crept a little higher, and it was just too much.
The direction from the college came to us in drips and drabs, my daughter calling to say she wasn’t sure, what did I think, her brain was overloaded and mine was too. Trying to find the balance of helping her decide what to do, without telling her what to do – wishing she was home so I could have my nest complete, and still wanting to let her find her own way, be independent. And it was just too much.
Little thing after little thing. I find myself skipping a meal in an effort to conserve food. The grocery store pick up order wasn’t able to fulfill my requested bread or meat. The worry of my parents, of my mother’s upcoming trip out of state to care for her parents.
And it was just too much.
2:00 and my head is pounding and I finally make myself stop and eat.
At then, my son melted down again.
And I melted with him.
I yelled at him to BE QUIET. DIDN’T HE KNOW THAT NONE OF THIS WAS EASY FOR ANYONE?
A few minutes later, in tears, I apologized to him. Told him that this was new and weird and stressful for all of us, and that none of us were going to get this right all the time. That there would be moments that I wasn’t the best mom right now, but I promised I was trying. He snuggled into my lap, with his arms around my neck, and just said, “same, mom.”
I gave him a hug, and asked if he wanted to play Minecraft or watch a movie – which he was happy to do.
I put myself down for a short nap, followed by a shower. When my husband got off work, we took a few minutes to ourselves to decompress and talk through the day. We agreed that I needed to find time to myself every day, there needed to be at least a few minutes that I wasn’t living in that fight-or-flight mode, a few minutes to breathe, to re-center.
And then it was time to start dinner, shepherd’s pie since it’s St Patty’s, while he took the kids outside to play. A few minutes of blessed sunshine and warmth for all of us.
So. . .today was not my day. Maybe it wasn’t yours either.
The anxiety is riding high for everyone, and I let it get to me today.
But this chaos, this mess, this uncertainty will not last. This is not the new forever – it is just the new right now. We will find our place, our grace for the moment, our new rhythm.
Today was not my day, but tomorrow will still come.
And I will rise and try again. Know that I am praying the same for you.