Is it time to come out? I’m afraid it might be time to come out from our quarantine cocoons, if not now then soon.
And, I’ll be honest, I’m a little scared. This nervousness is a shock to me as much as it probably is you.
I thought that when they gave us the go-ahead, I’d be ready. I thought I’d be skipping into the office, hugging every stranger I passed along the way. I thought I’d be cheering from the rooftops that our captivity was once and for all over.
I dreaded confinement, now I’m afraid of freedom
After all, I was dreading the confinement just as much – if not more – than everyone else.
Stay at home, you say? Okay, sure. And work? Fine, if I must. With three small kids…and my spouse? Nope. No, thank you. No gym time, no friend time, no alone time? No vacations, no date nights, no wondering Target’s aisles alone? And, on top of that, live with the fear that a nearly undetectable yet deadly virus was lurking outside our doors and threatening not just our lives but all of our loved ones? This quickly went from a minor inconvenience to borderline unbearable sending pangs of anxiety seeping into my bones.
At first, homeschooling my kids while balancing a full-time job felt impossible. Cooking every meal, every single day for the foreseeable future nauseated me. And as a mother of three, spending 24 hours a day in my house without a break exhausted me.
But once we settled in it became…comfortable.
Don’t get wrong, many days were grueling. Some days there were more tears than smiles. The sibling fighting was endless. The screaming toddler who decided this would be a good time to stop napping was excruciating. The fear of the unknown was debilitating. And worse yet was not knowing when it would end.
How long would I be fighting with my seven-year-old over first grade math? It wasn’t his fault he was exhausted mentally and emotionally from being kept in the house due to a threat he could barely begin to understand. How long would my four-year-old wake up at night because he is scared of the virus getting his friends? And, my two-year-old, how long would she regress in her potty training?
How long could I balance being a stay at home mom, a short order cook, a first grade teacher, a dedicated employee and a supportive spouse? How long would my husband – the main provider in our household – maintain his job before the economy was in a true depression? While some of these were realities and some were merely my anxieties – they plagued me every day.
Some days were grueling, other days were nice
But, other days were nice. The kids were quiet, actually eerily peaceful. Some days I watched my sons play together as if they were best friends, and not siblings forced together by nature. Other days I got to nap by my daughter’s side, cuddled in close under my childhood blanket that she now holds dear. My husband and I got to take walks together sometimes just the two of us, a rarity in our very busy lives and likely the first time in nearly ten years. There were days that were spent blowing bubbles in the front yard, watching my son bike the empty streets, and discovering a new park to picnic in.
Yes, I want life to go back to normal, so badly. But I am also very scared. I’m afraid it won’t be normal at all. In fact, in many ways, it could be harder than being home. Because now we aren’t snuggled in close, holding our loved ones near. Now, the risk of exposure is real. We can’t close our doors to it like we could before. And we can’t ignore it because, be it small, it is mighty. So now we must live with it.
We must live in a world with an ever-present threat; a world where shaking hands isn’t a way to greet someone but a way to infect them. A world where we question if it’s okay to hug our extended family members who we love dearly but don’t see daily. A world where face masks cover our smiles. A world far, far different than the one we left behind eight weeks ago.
I’m scared to go back into the world and also a little sad. And I don’t think I’m alone. This experience has provided us with is a sense that we’re all in this together. So, when I see you – possibly for the first time in months – and I can’t hug you or get too close, look me in the eye because that is where I will share with you my fear, my sadness, my anxiety and yet my true happiness to see you.
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Maureen Boesen is a guest writer for the Huffington Post, TODAY Parenting, Scary Mommy, Filter Free Parents, and other publications. She is a the mother of three, runner and previvor. You can read more of her writing at didileavemystraighteneron.com and follow her on Instragram.