This section written last week (3/18):
Monday when I picked my kiddos up from Boys and Girls Club I was told they are now limited to 50 people inside the building, 45 students and 5 staff. They are using a sign up sheet and a first-come-first-served policy for people needing child care. I opted to work from home Tuesday to give the spots my kids would take to someone who cannot work from home. Today I needed to go into work. When we arrived at club this morning my middle daughter had a fever of 100.3 so they wouldn’t allow her to enter. I could tell the staff felt so bad for turning me away. I’m not upset. I get it. Better to be safe than risk 50 people catching the virus. She’s at home with my oldest daughter watching her so that I can go into work. She’s been sneezing a lot and has had a runny nose so I’m hoping this is just some nasty allergies and nothing more. It’s hard not to let my mind go places it shouldn’t right now. She’s not coughing. I keep reminding myself of that.
My youngest is starting to have trouble dealing with what is going on. The other day she got very emotional. She told me the only person she would touch is me. The other morning she decided to clean the whole house. I tried to reassure her that I’ve been wiping down everything with bleach wipes and keeping all of us clean, but she said she wanted to do it again. She’s 5. She’s very sensitive, and very smart. I’m not sure if she was told too much at school before they closed or where she may have heard information (I only read the news, I don’t watch it). I’m doing my best to calm her fears and surround her with love. Hopefully she adjusts to our temporary normal and begins to understand that we are safe.
I’m fighting my anxiety right now too. Seeing traffic Monday morning was one of the more comforting things for me. I’m trying to focus on long term goals to allow myself to recognize that this isn’t going to last forever. I’m listening to music that makes me happy and calm, and I’m writing these blog posts (whether anyone reads them or not, they help me cope with the situation).
Yesterday while I worked from home I had the younger kids help me turn their play area into a mini classroom. We set up a small table and two chairs, and used an easel for teaching. I pulled out paper and crayons for them. They chose to do math. Even though my youngest daughters are two years apart, academically they’re almost on the same level because of my middle daughter’s developmental delays. I appreciate it right now because it makes teaching them easy. My older daughter is able to do her school work online, thank goodness. I don’t think I could teach her algebra and chemistry.
This weekend the kids go see their dad for 48 hours and I’m trying to decide what to do. My natural instinct is to head off into the woods alone. I’ve even contemplated summitting Mount Saint Helens before limited permits are issued. But then I wonder if I need to force myself to just stay home, do yard work or do housework or do nothing at all. I don’t like sitting around. I’m not good at it at all. Even when I got mono last year I could not force myself to rest and relax. Which is probably why I had mono for a year.
This whole situation is so hard to grasp. I’m pretty sure most of us have never experienced something like this before. At times I kind of forget about it and just go with the flow. Then it creeps into my brain and I can’t stop thinking about all the “what-if’s” that we’re all facing right now. What if one of us gets it? What if school stays closed for months? What if I lose my job? I get that tightness in my chest, the knots in my stomach. And then I take a deep breath in, close my eyes, and slowly breath it out. Then I open my eyes and look around. I think of all the things I have, and then I remember that we’re all in the same boat.
This section written 3/25:
My ex contacted me before I dropped the kids off to him last Friday and said he had the week off work and would like to have our kids during that time. I agreed, but told him I wanted to talk to him about it when I dropped them off. Then my mind started churning with ideas. Knowing a lockdown would likely happen in Washington shortly I decided to take off to Utah for the weekend since I wouldn’t have to be back in 48 hours to get my kiddos.
I packed extra items for the kids since they would be with their dad for a week, then began to pack myself for a quick trip to Moab. I took the kids to their dads, gave him some extra bags of toys and clothes, and then talked to him for a bit on his porch about how it would look for the next week – things they’ve been eating lately (because anyone with kids knows that what they like and hate to eat changes regularly), when to give our daughter her allergy meds, etc. Then I took off home to finish packing my car.
After I hit the road my mind started roaming. I wondered why my ex had the week off work. I knew the company he works for was still operational. So I asked him directly: “Do you have the week off because you were exposed to the virus?” And he said yes. I felt anger spreading through my body. I wanted to scream. He said he was on mandatory quarantine because he had direct contact with someone who tested positive. But he took the “time off” as a chance to spend more time with our kids. Which is great. If it wasn’t a huge health risk. From what I’ve read people with severe developmental delays are more susceptible to this virus and have worse outcomes. Our middle daughter has severe developmental delays. I’m glad he wants more time with our kids, but to me this was such an irresponsible choice. Then I remembered him mentioning that he’d take them to the grocery store for food (after our conversation about what they currently like to eat). It seems the gravity of the situation hasn’t resonated with him. He made excuses to me like he feels fine, so he’s not sick. I called bullshit. Then he said if he gets really sick he’ll send the girls back to me. As hard as it was to say this, I told him if he gets really sick I can’t take them back. I can’t risk spreading this virus anymore than I already have (because by the time I found all of this information out I was already in Utah).
The trip to Utah was surreal. Billboards everywhere through the Salt Lake City area about COVID-19 (along with all the usual religious ones). I slept in my car. Campgrounds were all closed. It was even hard to find a bathroom. So many grocery stores and gas stations had closed their bathrooms. I wound up having to hide down at a riverbank to pee away from prying eyes since I couldn’t find a bathroom. I brought hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes with me. I wiped down my car regularly and sanitized my hands every time I got in and out of my car. I sanitized my car keys, my debit card, everything.
I got to Moab and hit up Canyonlands first, then Arches. There were so few people compared to when I was there last year. I even had Delicate Arch (which is the most recognizable and popular arch) all to myself. Not a soul around. But it was hard to sleep. Hard to relax and enjoy. I just wanted to get home and quarantine myself. The trip wound up taking 56 hours total. 56 hours to drive 2400 miles. I felt like I just needed to hurry up and be home.
The same day I got back the governor announced a state-wide “shelter in place” order. Which now means no going anywhere unless it’s the grocery store, doctor’s office, pharmacy, or gas. I’m fortunate to be able to work from home, but at reduced hours. I’m glad I can at least earn some money, even if it doesn’t cover everything. And I can still leave the house to go for a run around my neighborhood. They’ve shut down trails, campgrounds, parks and playgrounds. The weather last week had been so nice that these places were overrun with people staying home from work. I saw pictures of summits crowded with people – more than there would be on any nice summer day. It’s hard to have six feet between people when they’re overwhelming local trails. So I understand why the government shut places like that down. Even if I’m bummed I can’t hike.
The sun had definitely made last week easier. When I went out running I saw parents sitting in chairs in cul de sacs watching their children ride bikes and draw with sidewalk chalk. I saw people out walking their dogs, smiling, and relaxing in the warmth of the sun. Yesterday I went for a run. And it began to rain. As I ran I would go around or jump over all these beautiful chalk drawings. I saw rainbows and suns and hearts. I saw hopscotch. I saw race tracks. But as it started to rain I watched them all begin to wash away. The rain carried the chalk drawings into the cracks of pavement. That cheer and hope written on the sidewalks began to dwindle. There were no more kids out playing, no one else crazy enough to go for a run, no one walking dogs. And it has been raining ever since.
But perhaps this rain will be enough to keep people inside, keep them from infecting each other, and help us flatten the curve and get back to normal in a few months. I have hope. But we have to work together, and take care of each other (from a distance).