“Is it whatsday or blursday?” Kenny asks me, not infrequently. Dad jokes abound in quarantine.
Some days I roll my eyes and smile at him. Other days I roll my eyes and mean it. Healthy communication abounds in quarantine.
On all of my days, I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to be a good mom and on all of my days I fall short.
I try to make sure the kids are stimulated enough (but not overstimulated!), connected to other kids (but with enough distance!), learning enough (but IT’S SUMMER!), and given enough outdoor time so that they’re experiencing all that the natural world has to offer (but this can be so hard for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, weather, motivation, crowds, mood, willingness, and mosquitoes.)
Some days, we start the day with a hike. The kids marvel at how clear the water is as it runs over the rocks in the stream. In these small moments they only have to worry about the poison ivy and the steep incline and the muddy shoes.
Some days, we start with berry picking. We go to the farm when it is empty and drink fresh blueberry slushies (wiped down, of course). Our hands get stained and sticky. On these days I make a peach and blackberry cobbler, which is delicious for dessert, but even better for breakfast.
Most days, the kids are on electronic devices. They watch television shows, play Minecraft, and FaceTime with friends. The latter is fine with me; encouraged, even! We have worked on setting up clear rules around electronics. Every day they are broken.
Some days, I cry. I feel so filled up with feelings that they pour out of me. From my eyes. From the deepest parts of me.
Lately, I have been courting a new love: puzzles. I have always been so bad at puzzles. Comically, confusingly bad.
You know how someone will say something like, “OK, well can you imagine this thing but, like, rotated 90 degrees?”
“No. I cannot do this,” I say.
Play me a song once and I will be able to sing it back to you, as the music almost imprints into my brain. As me to retrace my steps or load a dishwasher and I will regretfully decline.
BUT, after months of saying things like, “We should do a puzzle!” I finally opened up the coolest puzzle, laid out its 500 pieces, and my mom, Kenny, Belle, Beau, and I spent the next few days completing this puzzle. I fell in love.
Some days puzzling feels like therapy. This weekend I tried my hand at a 1000 piece puzzle. It was awesome.
I listened to my audiobook and sat the table and went into a peaceful, almost meditative state, as I constructed an aesthetically pleasing room, with pink walls, potted plants, two dogs, a cat, a bird, a Moroccan trellis rug, and a painting that says, “Love Lives Here.”
I escaped into two, separate worlds at once: the world of my audiobook and the world of the pink room. It made for a good day.
The thing about puzzles is that they are simultaneously empowering and humbling. Unlike other areas of life, there is only one right answer. The piece fits or it does not. One misplaced piece and things go awry.
But, when you find that piece, the piece that completes the bottom right corner of the mahogany console table next to the light brown dog, the piece that has been eluding you for two days, all seems right in the world. For an instant, a problem has been solved.
Some days solving one problem feels epic.
Today is Monday, which means the kids are allowed to play Minecraft.
These days are their favorite days.
They each played separately, while they each had a FaceTime call with a new friend; friends with whom we’ve connected since we’ve been quarantined; friends whom we met because their moms responded to my online queries. “ISO friends,” I wrote.
Some days, distance does not matter. We are linked by commonalities. A pandemic; nether portals.
Today they have not yet played outside. It was a sunny, hot day, but there were reasons why going outside was not the best idea, but I felt guilty, but they were happy (relieved), but I still feel guilty.
Like most days, I feel as though I have not done enough.
Today I got to have a FaceTime date with a friend whom I have not seen in over a year. It was so nice. I tried to put on makeup. I looked in the mirror. I had, somehow, drawn a brown line across my face, giving me a half of a mustache. Makeup does not abound in quarantine.
Today I had a therapy session, spoke to my kids’ doctors and educators, made good meals for them, told them I love them, let them stay on their iPads for longer than I want to admit, tried (and failed) to get them to do some stuff for school, laughed as they made fun of me, cried when they were not near me, and tried to think of ways in which I can be a better mom for them.
Three new puzzles were just delivered. They’ll need to be left outside, then wiped down with disinfectant, and then we can choose between another still life, a circle of doughnuts, or paint cans filled with sorted, multi-colored LEGOs.
We have an evening activity to do as a family. That feels good.
Some days some good is good enough.