The Full-Time Quarantine | COVID-19 Stories | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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The Full-Time Quarantine 

Last Updated: 05/01/2020 11:23 am
click to enlarge Quarantine Tennis - FIONN REILLY
  • Fionn Reilly
  • Quarantine Tennis

Amidst boastful homeschooling parents and social media broadcasts of hikes and outdoor adventures, I reflect upon the sobering reality of what my week looks like and I feel ashamed of its stark comparison. Monday through Friday I hide from my children behind a computer screen and then I race to make up for such actions by feverishly cleaning my kitchen and squeezing in condensed school lessons Saturday and Sunday. Of course, I'm grateful to still have a job during this disaster, but a job during a disaster is not a job during normal times, just as a day working from home isn't that same in such a crisis.

Some days, the guilt I feel over the self-perceived neglect of my children weighs so heavily over my shoulders I feel it push me down like a weight. My husband, an essential worker, goes to brave the masses every day, so I wake up at 4 am to get a head start on the endless race against the clock and the race against my children's list of needs. I encourage myself to push through the afternoon hours when fatigue sets in- almost there, almost there. Every hour is a step closer, but a step closer to exactly what isn't clear. A step closer to another day? As this new reality began to unfold, I had intentions of rekindling old friendships, writing letters, calling my grandparents more regularly. Where did those intentions go? I was uncharacteristically unprepared for how fast the minutes and the chances would slip through my fingers.

While days are challenging, light always breaks through the cracks. The sun still rises in the morning where it always has, the birds still sing with the same tune they used to. My children don't understand "pandemic", they still smile when they wake up in the morning, still play and dance with the same passion as before.  My mother and I made a promise on the first day of endless quarantine to share four pieces of gratitude every day. The first month has finally passed, I'm proud to say we are still going strong. While each and every thought of gratitude shared has been beautiful, a few favorites stand out.

Friday, March 20: The feeling of doing things with awareness and purpose, to not be mindless, but to at least have an intention, no matter how it all turns out. Yesterday I found myself considering how much cream to put in my coffee, being so grateful to have it.

Tuesday, March 24: How my husband interacts with our children. I'm sure I take that for granted. It means the world to me. I was listening to him talk to them in the other room this morning and I don't know if I ever stopped to really appreciate that.

Friday, March 27: I'm feeling really grateful for my cat's health. I've never really loved cats, but she brings a lot of joy to the family, and a vet bill would really be a drag right now.

Sunday, March 29: People who smile (at a safe distance). I swear there is something in that that acknowledges a unity among absolutely everyone, and it is so palpable, so comforting.

Monday, April 6: Feeling at a greater place of acceptance and trust in my life that all things work together for good, but I have to let the birthing process happen. Sometimes I just need to step back and let things be.

I am not orchestrating the greatest at-home science projects of all time, I am not hiking a different state park every morning. The sink is full of dishes, the kids have been eating more snacks than vegetables, and occasionally I have to step out to sneak a cigarette and catch my breath. This is reality when you're living through a disaster. As the sun washes over the plates, crumbs, and juice boxes left over from the night before, I close my laptop and my eyes, for just a moment, and I am grateful. I am so grateful. 

Nicole Clanahan is a woman learning to appreciate the finer things in life—gratitude exchanges, messy kitchens, and sneaking cigarettes.

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