I know a little something about family togetherness.
We drove from Iowa to Yellowstone National Park when I was fourteen. Our family of four packed two tents and everything needed for a week’s worth of ham sandwiches into our minivan and embarked on the 17-hour trek out West. My brother and I, boxy Walkmans in hand, closely tracked our route on the paper map because there was NO WAY anyone would ask how much farther we had to drive. (And if you had to pee, well, you should’ve taken care of that at the last stop.)
I have vivid memories of the tight quarters from that trip. The tempers that flared when our campsite was waterlogged by incessant rain. And honestly, the exhaustion that comes from spending a ridiculous amount of time in Nebraska and South Dakota.
But I look back on that family trip with fondness. And that’s what gives me hope for yesterday, for today, and for tomorrow.
I’m no longer a teenager; I’m a wife and a mother of two. Thanks to the coronavirus, I’m setting out each day in a world of unknowns. It’s certainly no vacation: the risks are dire and each day we face deaths in our community due to this virus. But each day I get up and know that it’s up to me to help set the tone for my family and my kids each day.
I choose to head out for a short 10-minute walk every morning. On that walk I breathe fresh air, stretch my legs, and hopefully, feel a little sunshine on my face.
I make a pot of decaf, so I can enjoy coffee without the jitters I get from caffeine. I know the demands of the day will be mentally and emotionally exhausting.
The kids pick out breakfast, and then I ask them to pick just four things to do during the day. Their activities only take a short amount of time- an online math game, a little reading, a chore to help out around the house, and maybe some drawing – but it seems to help them to have some goals to work toward throughout the days.
I’m fortunate enough to be employed during this time. My husband is working from home, too. We’re ships passing in the day, trying to stagger short check-ins with the kids to help keep them engaged, happy, and out of the cookies.
And let’s be honest. Even with these efforts to set out with the best of intentions, this social distancing stuff isn’t easy. There are days when I fail miserably at setting a positive tone and pace for my family.
But just like my family adventure to Yellowstone, my goal is to make positive memories together with my children.
I hope we will look back on this time and remember the challenges of constant togetherness- because it’s overwhelming and it’s incredibly hard – but I want them to remember how we worked through it together.
Maybe they’ll recall my husband and I losing our tempers over loading the dishwasher, but I also hope the kids remember the bright spots, like our family games of Scrabble and the fun movies we’ve watched together
Every day isn’t sunny, and I don’t always hit it out of the park, but we’re giving every day the best we’ve got.
I hope brighter days are ahead, but no matter what tomorrow brings, I know we’ll be stronger together.
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