I woke up this morning and, for the first time in more than two weeks, didn’t go straight for the news. I didn’t look at texts, or social media, or even the weather — and trust me, James Spann’s weather blog is my morning go-to. Instead I sat down with my husband and enjoyed the peaceful quiet that comes before the world wakes up. It felt like a normal day.
But we all know today is not a normal day. Nor was yesterday. And last night, for me, was a rough night. Like many others, I was shocked at the news that came out. I was appalled to learn that some officials understood the dire circumstances that were headed our way weeks ago and yet downplayed these to the public; that some dumped stocks from companies they knew were about to take a huge hit.
But it was the leaked reports, from trusted sources like the Department of Health & Human Services and the Imperial College London, that sent my head reeling. These multiple experts, independent from each other, say this pandemic will most likely last 18 months or longer.
I sat reading that article, having that split-second conversation in my head that went something like, “No, this can’t be right, this can’t be happening, is this really happening, how is this happening?” It felt as if I was misunderstanding what I was reading, yet knowing I was comprehending it and just wishing I was wrong. And god, in that moment I wanted to cry. I felt the pressure rise in my throat, I felt my eyes wanting to well up … and thankfully I managed to push those feelings back down before the girls walked in.
As a parent, I’ve been consoling my girls this past week when they’ve missed their friends, when they’ve missed ballet and soccer, when they’ve missed hugging their grandparents. I’ve let them know that it’s okay to grieve the experiences they’ve lost. My oldest daughter was to play Belle in ‘Beauty & the Beast,’ a performance which likely won’t happen. My youngest had started soccer but didn’t even play her first game. Both girls were cast in their ballet studio’s spring production, and by coincidence Cora was to play a pink salamander — the same character her big sister played eight years ago.
Yes, our family recognizes that there are those out there who are suffering far worse than we are, and that it’s important to acknowledge the many things for which we should be grateful. But it’s also okay to grieve these lost experiences. Kids need to know that it’s okay to feel their emotions.
And so do adults.
Last night, once the girls were asleep, it finally happened. Everything from the past few weeks came rushing in on me, a million inconsequential thoughts to go along with the big stuff, but the gist of it is …
Of the virus, yes. But I’m also scared of the long-term ramifications. I’m scared of the long-term effects on my daughters. On all of our lives. There are so many ‘what ifs’ playing in my head right now …
What if I lose someone I love? What if I lose a lot of people? What if my husband loses his job? What if there becomes a shortage of food? Of goods? What if we seriously need to start considering that compound we’ve always joked about with friends? What if I lose access to my migraine meds? What if these people that have been stocking up on toilet paper are the ones who’ve had it right all along and the rest of us have to ration squares? What if Cora and Shannon need therapy for the rest of their lives because they got quarantined for so long … with their mom?
Believe me, that’s only the beginning of the crazy train.
Ultimately I want this journey — not matter how long it might last — to be a positive one. At the same time, though, I know there are people like me who have been pushing down their emotions for weeks; whether it be grief, or fear, or even anger. We’re out there, being strong for those we love. But last night I gave myself permission to feel everything. And I mean everything.
In case anyone out there feels like they need permission, here it is.
It’s okay to be scared.
It’s okay to be mad.
It’s okay to have a lot of what ifs in your head.
It’s okay to cry.
It’s okay to lose your shit completely.
It’s okay to have a lot of different emotions all together while you’re sitting on your couch, crying while you’re watching a rerun of ‘Scrubs’ on Hulu with a bowl of Cool Whip in your lap.
It’s okay to feel these emotions — even if you have to wait until everyone else is in bed. Once you have, my hope is that you’ll have a little piece of peaceful quiet in the morning.