Can't Find Comfort in Kale

They – so many theys – say to keep a record. Write it down. For posterity. For history. For sanity.

During this awful beginning, I try to jot down a note. Dribs and drabs. A minute here, a half-hour there. What’s happening? Am I ok when things are not?

Short answer: no. Who is, really?

Fully aware I am not on the front lines of anything but my little family and their well-being. My little notes contain no first-hand horror, and for that, I am grateful and profoundly aware that is not the case for many.

So here are tiny dandelion seeds I’m blowing out there. Messy weeds I’m spreading everywhere in an attempt to figure out where to land in this new reality of absolutes.

“Outside” and “other people” are scary terms these days. The store becomes danger zone.

It seems, based on glances at other people’s carts and a quick zip through the produce aisle, we’re all giving up on our New Year’s resolutions. Who wants to get through a pandemic eating kale when carbs are readily available? Sure, some people are purchasing kale, but some people are also posting their two-hour at-home workouts. I am not any of those people. Good for them, though. I’ve decided instead to get a jump on putting on my late 2020-early 2021 winter weight.

I bought two pies and no kale.

Abundant well-intended online encouragement.

“In years to come, your children will remember how special you made them feel during this scary time.”

We’re still working and the kids have e-learning, which requires a lot of attention and presence. My kids are smart enough and curious enough to know what’s going on with COVID-19 (we are draconian about limiting what they see, and we’re there when they see it.) We’ve had to disappoint them with cancellations. We’ve had to bolster them as they wade through new schooling methods. We’ve had to create a Spring Break out of thin air because we were going to be on the beach and now we’re home where it’s cold and bleak.

Many of us parents worry that while we know we’re fine, we want to do better. More. I try to reassure myself that my “fine” is special enough, and that I’m allowed to feel hollowed out by it all. I don’t need to compare myself to the moms who seem to be shining and nailing this right now.

We’re all doing what we can.

I play video games with the kids. I let them sit with me, as a group and individually. Hugs are readily given. I make bad jokes. I don’t sink into my writing so that they can interrupt with their little trains of thought as often as needed. I let them eat dessert first some nights. I tell them it’s not a problem that there were no eggs to be found at the store. A blip. No worries. I read their books with them aloud rather than all of us reading our own books silently. That’s all the magic I have in me right now. I don’t play Monopoly with them. They’ll know something’s up if I’m going too overboard with the “yessing.”


Incidentally, this is a hard week to have hormonal migraines or hormonal anythings.

My husband and I work from home anyway. On the plus side, we know how to navigate that dynamic. On the other hand, it’s Take Your Child to Work Day every day.

My kids haven’t complained once.

We listen to science. We don’t panic but we pay attention. We follow directions. We’re calm and thoughtful.

Fear isn’t overwhelming. It pokes its head up during these days. A wave or two before the required acts take over. Forward progress. Acknowledge the fear and move on.

Finding that fulcrum of structure and comforting easing of routine. 

It helps that I’m an introvert and used to being at home. I’m grateful for the friends I can text and ask how they’re doing. I’m grateful for their honest answers of “ok.”

I’m jealous of those who cope by dancing, singing, or madly pounding out art online and with abandon. Those who laugh and live in the face of it all.

Nothing but my respect for that. That’s how most people live in times like this: grasping on to as much normalcy and movement and connection as possible. Even in the worst of history, we dance and celebrate and laugh and have babies.

That’s not my need at the moment. Right now, I am knee-deep in the Impending right now. I collect poetry of blessings for the sick. I bookmark elegies. Those are deserved, too. This is how I affirm life and the cycle of it all now. With words. With a nod. With bereavment while my kids shriek with laughter during some game they play, blissfully in the normal for a moment.

The children, though? I dance with them. I sing with them. I play. I create. I eat and watch movies with them. For them. We find ways to help me surf the uncertain waves.

This is tiring. We don’t fight our bedtimes.

I’m seeing people online talking about all their “extra time.” Some are “bored.” Not most. Most people I know are filling the time with work (or trying to get it) or kids or healthcare or acts for the greater good or general panic about the future.

But some are bored.

I would love to be bored. Can I order some of that on Amazon, or have a few people hoarded that as well, repackaging it and selling it at ridiculous markups? I’ll take any off-brand boredom. Heck, I’ll go early to a store and wait in line for boredom.

Maybe it’s calm I want. To not be emotionally on-call. I feel guilty. I know who is really not bored right now, and they don’t have masks, gowns, gloves, or beds.

One of my kids is daily sending his teacher pictures of our dog. Another one keeps trying to Rickroll his teacher although I told him to stop. She’s got enough to deal with, what with all the Macguyvering they’re doing. The teachers are great. They are trailblazing and kind and available while also dealing with their own lives working from home.

Through it all, quiet hope. Maya Angelou said, every storm runs out of rain. I say, until then, we take shelter under the umbrellas of our own makings.

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