I don’t know how things are going at your house, but corona quarantine has made our life both incredibly interesting and entirely mundane.
On the more mundane side, I’ve started cooking again and not because I enjoy cooking. Initially, I only started cooking because all the sudden I had the time to do it and because grabbing food out had become a little more difficult. As the weeks sequestered in my home with the same old fare lingered on, I became desperate for something new.
“I can’t take it anymore. I cannot eat the same thing for the 6th week in a row!” I yelled mostly at the refrigerator but also in an attempt to communicate what was coming to my picky child. She just looked at me with the expression of the mildly annoyed, more mature witness to this outburst. I feared that she is about to say something reasonable, like “we have plenty of food in this pantry” so I continued on with my crusade for finer cuisine before she could say anything.
“Listen,” I began, “This is what’s going to happen. I’m going to sign up for one of those services where they send you the ingredients and tell you how to cook it, because I need something new without the responsibility of having to comb through thousands of Pinterest pages to find it. I’m going to let them decide for me and send it to me. And then I’m going to make it and you’re going to try it, you hear me?! And if you don’t like it, fine, but you’re going to try it and then you can make yourself something else.”
“Fine,” she says, not even putting up a fight, “As long as I can make something else if I don’t like it.”
I think the only reason she so willingly resigned to my new food proclamation is that just before quarantine we discovered that she is finally tall enough to use the microwave and began heating up some of her own food. She has continued to expand her skill in the kitchen during quarantine and can now use the stove to fry her own eggs.
Oh, the fried egg. It is her current favorite food. She would eat half a dozen of them in one sitting if I would let her. I would complain about that, but the fried egg with salt and pepper is the only thing that broke down my daughter’s inexplicable disdain for pepper, so I owe it a debt of gratitude and therefore allow the fried egg phase to stand. I only pray that soon she will discover some form of toasted bread and perhaps some melted cheese and consume her eggs with any combination of these things rather than using her fingers to deliver the egg directly to her mouth. It would be a small mercy for which I would be forever grateful.
The interesting part to me in this scaled back, run of the mill, mundane quarantine life we have going on is how much it has allowed her to grow. Cooking isn’t the only new skill she has picked up, she has also learned how to do laundry. We have even instituted mother-daughter folding time and tackle laundry mountain together. She has learned to unload the dishwasher and run the vacuum. Suddenly, I feel like if she had to move into her college dorm tomorrow, she just might survive. The pace of our life has slowed down just enough to allow her to finally, successfully memorize those multiplication tables and for me to be able to teach her some important life skills. She’s going to walk out of quarantine able to feed and clothe herself, and that seems pretty amazing to me.
The grief process during the shut down and quarantine was significant and real. I felt it, my child felt it, my clients felt it; we all felt the wild and mixed emotions of grief. Now there is talk of reopening the country and getting everything back up and going, and honestly, that makes me a little sad, too. I just settled into this slower pace of life, and frankly, it suits me quite well. It seems to suit this little family even better, and I’m beginning to suspect that there will be a little grief when the schedules fill up again and our time together at home is all about chores, dinner, baths, homework and how quickly we can get those things done so we can be in bed on time.
We needed this respite. I knew we needed it before it was involuntarily thrust upon us, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it happen. I’m hoping to come out of this thing with some new ideas and new zeal for protecting my time. Quarantine has certainly presented some unexpected challenges, but it has presented some unexpected blessings, as well. The gift of time, as it turns out, has some arms and legs to it that extend well into the future, and I’m curious to see what kind of life we all return to.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not in a hurry to return to the hurry.