Family In Place: Reality Check

With Shelter-In-Place in effect, I have rushed to fill my social media with fun posts and photos about my family's response to this new reality.  The incredible responses I've seen from around the country and the world -- Italy's citizens singing to each other at their windows, friends hosting Yoga via Zoom, the endless hilarious memes that make us laugh -- have inspired me to be creative with my family and to focus on staying positive and motivated in the face of this daunting challenge.  This makes sense: we all need inspiration and motivation.

But last night, my 17-year-old daughter said: "Mom, your social media posts are making it look like we are having fun with all of this."

Good point.  It has not been fun.  There have been bright moments, and I'm proud of my kids for how they have managed things so far, but it has not been fun.  Here are some real moments from AIRY5 in the past few days:

One kid, screaming at another: "STOP LOOKING AT ME OR I WILL KILL YOU."  This was not said in jest.  It was not playful.  It came from a deep and primal place, familiar to siblings around the world.  The scream reverberated throughout the house and hung in the air for a good long time.  Speaking for myself only, it definitely depressed me, while simultaneously causing me to question my parenting and worry about the future of my childrens' relationships.  Temporarily, anyway.

I added a blank list of 5 or 6 lines to our family mural, with the heading: DAY 2: HOW WILL WE SURVIVE?  Then I texted everyone and asked them to help fill it in.  My oldest wanted to put "Eat the little one" on the list.  I didn't let him.  The list went unfilled, except for one suggestion: "Rob a bank."  No one was feeling like coming up with hopeful and creative ways to help each other through Day 2, apparently.

Despite the art mural on our dining room table, despite the basketball hoop my son made out of a Sierra Nevada six-pack container, despite the kickback Rick constructed yesterday for the kids, the most common sight in this household is still teenagers with bad posture, staring at their phones.  Rick and I have talked about the need to institute "tech-free time" each day, and we will do that, but we haven't yet.  What can I say: we are weak.

Yesterday afternoon, I took to my bed, overwhelmed and sad. I'm overwhelmed by the sheer number of articles and resources coming my way, sent by family and friends and posted all over social media.  I'm saddened by what is happening around the world and how many people are suffering.  I'm horrified by how our president is talking about the crisis.  I'm scared because it feels like this country is not doing what needs to be done.  I'm sad for my daughter, who is a senior this year, as she faces the possibility of not having any of the senior-year milestones and moments she and we have been looking forward to.  Did I, without realizing it, watch her play her last soccer game a few weeks ago?  I stayed in bed for two hours, before forcing myself to get up and take the dog out.

THIS.  IS.  HARD.

I told my kids that our family's Shelter In Place experience will be filled with all kinds of moments: good, bad, ugly, and strikingly beautiful.  I believe this is true.  And we should acknowledge all of it, and let it be.

Hang in there, community.  Share what makes you happy, but also feel free to share what makes you feel sad or scared or mad, if you want.  You are not alone.


Comments

Yes, there have been moments this week that made me doubt my parenting skills, for sure! We just have to keep on keeping on...If I still had 7 people in the house for this, I'm not sure what I would do. Probably hide in my room

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