Monday, March 23rd, 2020 was the first day my life was turned upside down. The schools were ordered to start remote learning, and my office was ordered to work from home. This was the day virtual learning was introduced and I became a math teacher, art teacher, gym teacher, English teacher - the list goes on. In addition to a full-time working mom to three kids (ages 7, 11 & 17).
Life is hard enough working full time and raising children.
How could this even possibly work? I was terrified; my anxiety was through the roof. There were so many unanswered questions regarding every facet of my life; things felt out of control. And I personally have a hard time dealing with things that seem chaotic and unorganized. The school provided no answers at this point because, they too, had no idea how this was going to work.
Like any obstacle in my life, I started to make a plan.
I created schedules for the kids, Googling worksheets for my 1st grader and trying to start a routine. At the beginning, the kids were interested and things were new. They followed their schedule and completed the worksheets. The schools started providing some guidance and we were all doing our best in the midst of the chaos.
As the weeks went on, it got harder. The younger kids were DONE with virtual learning. My eleven-year-old started showing less interest in school activities that he once loved. My seven-year-old struggled to stay engaged to a screen for multiple hours a day, requiring more of my attention. I was done and so frustrated. All I could focus on was wanting this all to be over so my life could go back to normal.
I started trying to keep myself and the kids busy.
My oldest and I began a bathroom remodel project. The younger kids and I started our first garden. I remember one evening in particular... my family and I had been working outside in the garden and my oldest made dinner for us. We came inside and she had everything done and the table set for everyone. She really made an effort with the food and the presentation. She had never done this before, nothing even close to what she did that evening. She was always at school, work or out with friends. Eating dinner with all five of us was a special occasion!
I remember sitting at dinner that evening looking at my family. Everyone was happy, healthy, and together. I'd been so focused on the forced changes in our lives that I never even noticed what the quarantine was doing for my family.
My attitude changed that night. I found the silver lining.
I began smiling when all the kids would pile on my bed with their devices to do schoolwork or when they would ask to go on a walk with me. I started viewing quarantine as a time for my family to stop and be together... to reconnect.
It was difficult, but good things don't come easily. The additional weight of life exposed things about myself and my family. It exposed our resiliency. It exposed our need for family, love, and understanding. It exposed the character and tenacity we carry. It exposed our need for true connection. It exposed things we took for granted or had dismissed in the business of “normal life.” I am grateful for that.
Quarantine gave me the opportunity to slow down and appreciate the important things.
It gave me a new perspective and appreciation for things I didn’t realize we were missing. Really, it was more than silver lining... I found treasure in those moments that I will always cherish.