A few months ago, I wrote a piece where in it I staked my claim on carving out margin. Mothering older kids seems to be a constant battle of “what can I make time for today?” But now everything has been turned upside down. As we work together to flatten the curve, the uphill battle towards margin seems almost nonexistent. Those of us who don’t work in the healthcare industry or other essential occupations are just home in quarantine.
We are tasked with homeschooling our children and the calendar is cleared of sports, meetings, performances, and travel… for now. And because none of us know how long this could last, I realized the other day what a gift this is.
Giving the Gift of Quarantine
I know it can seem an odd thing to say this time is a gift when many are ill and some have even succumbed to the virus. But hear me out. It’s hard to feel we are doing much good just quarantining our families. When there is a crisis, we normally roll up our sleeves and get in there and do something. And this feels opposite of doing something.
While we pray for those who are indeed affected by the virus, and we await news that our quarantine efforts are not in vain, this is the best way to help right now. Not only is this time a gift to us (which I’ll explain next), but it is a gift to others. To our grandparents. To the immunocompromised. And to the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who are tirelessly working to care for those infected. Your gift is seen, and it is not in vain. Thank you for giving the gift of quarantine.
Most of us are the “regular” people the quarantine is affecting. We are home just living life, wondering what to do next, and figuring out how to be a teacher, counselor, mom — and stay positive in the midst of it all. Even Jimmy Fallon, Ellen DeGeneres, Jim Gaffigan, and many other celebrities seem to be more “normal” right now. They’re home just doing their thing without an audience or fanfare, still trying to work and stay sane.
It’s All New
Some of us might even be struggling with anxiety, depression, or even just being an extrovert who has been robbed of time with people. We may be in the middle of this thinking “how will I get through?” You walk into Costco and you can see it on everyone’s faces. The uncertainty. I saw a post written by one of my favorite authors Emily P Freeman and she said “none of us has ever done this before” and I thought that’s so wise, and so true. Even though you and I may fumble through this time a bit because it’s all new, I have a hunch that we will look back at this time and think a few unexpected thoughts.
When my second set of twins were in the NICU, I couldn’t see two hours ahead of me. Life.was.tough. Not only did we live an hour from the hospital, but our house was on the market and I was recovering from being in the hospital myself for a month. I don’t remember a lot of specific details of those long, dark days. But as I look back, now almost 5 years later I’m surprised by something, I sort of miss those days. I don’t miss the uncertainty or the darkest hours. I miss the sense of honing in on what is most important. Of recognizing my own weakness, and focusing on what matters most. The extra just faded away and I prayed often and drew close to my family.
Do you have an experience like that? A tough circumstance that is now behind you and you find yourself missing the opportunity to take in life a little differently? I see myself already looking back on this time of quarantine in the same way.
The Gift of Rest
We have been given a rare gift. Our culture is all about hustle, go-go-go. We view the rest as weakness. But now? We are advised to rest for the good of others. All the extra has been pushed aside. We have the time to declutter, scrub the floors, pull the weeds, read the books, make the crafts, play the games, and have the conversations. You can send the texts, organize the emails, take the walks, watch the shows, mend the pants, and paint the walls. You can draw close to the people within those walls and remind them of the gift they are.
Yes, there will be days when it feels more like punishment than a gift. But take hope in the next day. As Anne of Green Gables says “tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” Who knows how long this gift will last? Let’s not spend it panic buying and fretting. Let’s spend these days slowing down, being intentional spending time with our families, checking off tasks that we often push aside, and reminding those closest to us that we see them and they matter.
Don’t miss unwrapping the gift of quarantine.