Little Blessings from Social Distancing
“Social distancing.” Hmm more like physically distant, but not socially.
This boy, my girl, and I have had the best days lately! Yes, I’m shocked, too, given the state of our world these past few weeks. We are in the thick of the SARS-CoV-2 (aka coronavirus-19) pandemic, and we live in a medium-sized town in a more rural area of Washington state.
Strangely enough, we’ve had far less arguing, better listening, and even some excitement about their “homeschool” sessions twice a day. Perhaps they are a bit more excited for their different P.E. sessions – note the P.E. photo above. Overall, there’s more hugging, more home-cooked meals, more all-around family time. Honestly speaking: it is more of what I’ve always wished for!
It is not lost on me the amount of work that goes into creating a lesson plan each day for two children, imagine doing this for 20+! Now more than ever, am I realizing that teachers are disgustingly underpaid. We need to do something about this, America. There is simply no excuse.
In the middle of all of this, I am 4 weeks post-op from moderately extensive shoulder surgery on my dominant arm. Recovery is trying my patience because I am not one to sit still, however, my forced immobility selfishly and unknowingly came at the perfect time in our lives.
Our family has self-quarantined in our home to keep everyone healthy. But especially to try to keep me from contracting this so that when this virus hits hard, as it’s anticipated to do in about a month or more, I will hopefully still be healthy enough to help care for sick people who need me.
Now, I’m suddenly working part-time (2 hours, computer work only) from home while recovering, since my dominant arm is basically useless for the foreseeable future. On the other hand (pun intended), I’m able to be home with my kids during these uncertain times.
Schools across our state and many other states have entirely shut down for at least six weeks. Our governor also ordered all restaurants, bars, gyms, etc., to be closed to “flatten the curve,” or reduce transmission of this new virus, which we know very little about. Because of the recommended “social distancing,” being at least 6 feet away from others, everyone has forcibly slowed down. All of a sudden, our family calendar is the emptiest it’s been in probably… ever.
My 10-year-old son has given me bear hugs every single morning, and at various times catching me off guard throughout our days, shouts out this playful invitation, “Jump on the trampoline with me, Mom!” He momentarily forgets that I can’t do that right now with my shoulder in this gigantic brace.
Usually, I am that Mom who gets on the trampoline and shows them the tricks I’m still able to do from my childhood gymnastics classes. But now, he is instead satisfied with me videotaping his new skills for him to watch back so he can try to perfect his trampoline technique.
At least this gets his mind off of his abruptly halted snowboard season. He misses his friends and I miss the snowboard parents that we spent every weekend with. All of a sudden, we are all in this realm of social isolation for the greater good.
In the midst all of these uncomfortable changes, my eldest child, a 12-year-old daughter with an artistic mind and beautiful old soul, is more engaged in active play with all of us and less engaged in her usual independent favorites: reading, pencil sketching, digital art, video games or computer programming.
As a family, we have been playing more board games, cooking more meals together, folding more laundry… well, they fold/we all put away. Overall getting more things done as a family unit. We have movie nights every couple of nights complete with freshly popped popcorn or ice cream sundaes. All of these things, when done by us together, and done with more smiles on our faces and lighter moods, make easier and more pleasant work, and they are living and learning this right now.
I must admit, with less overall stressors, I am able to enjoy them more, take in the sound of their laughs, and revel in their discoveries. Our hearts are more joyful, and we have a shoulder surgery, a wonderfully understanding work family, and one “united nation under coronavirus” to thank for it.
Trust me; I hear those of you grumbling in the background. I am very aware that not every parent can stay home right now, as all of our schools are closed because of this pandemic. Ask anyone who really knows me; I’ve had M A N Y times throughout motherhood whereby I felt that “mom guilt” that so nastily creeps in and steals away our peace as I am usually the one called away from home to work in the hospital or clinic as I am a healthcare worker. And even with this pandemic, my time will come.
My shoulder needs to heal for a few more weeks. That is right about the time when this virus is expected to peak in our little town. That is when I will lose this beautiful freedom of being home and I will be called in to screen many and care for some very sick people. But not yet! This is MY time. This silver lining is mine. This time, I get those memories I’ve SO longed for as a full-time healthcare worker, even sometimes the solo breadwinner.
So the fact that these kids of mine are getting along the best they have in years, they’re hanging out with me more than they have in months, and I’m less stressed than I’ve been in God knows how long… I count this chaotic time in our lives as a blessing for us!
I fully recognize and have deep aches in my own mama’s heart for those of you who are unable to be with your kids right now. I hear you. I feel it, as I, too, speak from experience.
It’s times like these whereby your kids will learn more independence, self-resilience, and creativity, being that you’re not with them each day during this new change in everyone’s lives. My kids have had their fair share of such independent challenges, from the time of my Hospitalist job where I was required to work sometimes ten, 24-hour consecutive shifts in addition to my regular 40-hour week clinic job.
I was the Mom who sometimes got called right back into work after just having come home from being there for 18 hours or longer, who missed some family meals, who missed certain school events because “we really need you back at the hospital.” Then through our long, super not fun divorce, as well as scattered throughout the years of just overall being MY kids. The kids of a Nurse Practitioner who even still has to take 24-hour emergency calls one week a year. My kids get it. They’ve had to. It has not been easy for any of us.
Take a minute to close your eyes and focus on the smiling faces of your children. Let the happiness you see in their eyes give you strength in knowing that they will learn, grow, and become better versions of themselves because of these trying times. I promise you. I speak from experience. They’ll be better off, and so will you. You’ve got this!
“You never realize how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” -Mr. Bob Marley
Meet Kimberlee: Kimberlee is a 40-something-year-old Mom of two, engaged to the love of her life, and is excited to soon add the title of “stepmother” to her fiancé’s eight-year-old son. Kimberlee has worked as a nurse practitioner specializing in family medicine for the past 15 years, as well as a college nursing instructor. Before that, she was a pediatric and adult E.R./trauma nurse at a level one trauma center in Metropolitan Los Angeles, where she was born and raised. She’s also a certified public health nurse. She enjoys backpacking trips with her family, running, and sipping coffee with friends.
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