I’m free – I’m FREE! Fourteen days of quarantine complete! Then it hit me. It hit me hard. I’m not free. None of us are.
All of my favourite restaurants and cafes are closed. The library and other favourite public places I frequented before, like our local recreation centre obviously have their doors shuttered. Conservation areas are long gone. I won’t be going on an all-day hike. This isn’t news. Even the basketball courts behind our house and the park – literally, the green blades of grass – are off limits. You can be fined $750 for not taking heed.
So I’m free to go…nowhere.
I found this slightly depressing the other day. That, and that all is not well in paradise. The children are fine, but they need caring for – constantly! Can you imagine? Excuse me while I exhale loudly, but it’s tough when you’ve built a life around working to suddenly have to halt that existence and become a teacher and full-time parent. I left classroom teaching because I wanted to write. Dan never became a teacher or professor, unlike his wife, mother, father and two sisters, because that wasn’t his jam. I’m sure he misses life on the road (though he tells me otherwise), but what he surely does miss is a full workday without interruption. The time and space to work. He was awake in a panic the other night, stewing. He couldn’t get back to sleep for a while. Those who know my husband, and know him well, know that he can sleep ANYWHERE. While sitting up facing you mid-conversation. During an intake meeting with his child’s therapist. While working, during a colleague’s presentation or mid-conference speaker. Dan is the king of cat naps. Him staying awake in the middle of the night was like a wakeup call for me as to the seriousness, and potentially long time, we are all going to be snuggled in bed tight, lying awake together. Dan enjoys spending time with his kids, like I enjoy it, but there’s the stress and nagging feeling that he’s supposed to be working.
I get it, because I feel it, too.
If you think I should be the one to teacher our kids all day so Dan can work unencumbered as usual, and poo poo to building my career as a writer, then you’re not only sexist, but I don’t like you very much (and there aren’t many people I don’t like). I’m sick of being told what I should or shouldn’t do by not only men, but other women too. The sad truth is, for many women during this pandemic, this is their reality. Like so many issues coming to light in society right now, the inequalities between men and women are certainly one of them. Who do you think is more expected to be taking care of the children now that we are all home? Many women are not only expected to work full time from home, but to also simultaneously take care of their families and be their child’s teacher. I’m having a hard-enough time trying to cook and organize lunches and dinners every day, and mostly Dan is making the dinners, let alone trying to do it while teaching my kids and holding on to a semblance of my past life. One thing at a time. I’ve done this circus shit before, and I thought I was done with it on the 24/7 schedule. Juggling balls all day long is exhausting. We’re all new mothers again with newborns that need constant care. And my kids aren’t even being that demanding, they’re just – there.
I have two solutions to all of this. This is what works for me – this is how I’m dealing with things. To each their own. The first is to climb trees. WHAT? am I talking about? I saw a perfect tree the other day and it called out to me, try and climb me. The tree beckoned. I looked around – no one – and decided to give it a whirl. But here’s the thing about right now: I feel drained of strength. Every task, big or small, requires momentous effort. The slow leak of stress is muscle-deflating. Nevertheless, I did a half jump, and pushing off the trunk with one hand I was able to grab a branch with the other – but that was it. I couldn’t make it any further. My legs remained weighted to the ground. Huh, tree climbing was harder than I remembered. I think I was hoping to get my feet up off the ground – is it just me or does it seem like there are germs everywhere that could hurt us? I wanted to get my feet up off the ground and sit perched up there in that tree where I could look out, scan the horizon, get the lay of the land. We are so clustered in our homes at the moment, and I get the whole staying safe at home – I advocate for it – versus stuck at home. But there’s no way around sometimes feeling stuck at home. I wanted to climb way up high, up and away from this mess toward the bright blue sky above me. But I didn’t make it. I’m still stuck feet on the ground.
The second solution I have is to give in, to succumb. And to do so, for me, involves getting a puppy. A PUPPY? WHAT??!! How is that less responsibility, you ask? Why is that the right answer? Well, here are my reasons. Our kids have been bugging us for a pet. I miss my dog. I have wanted a puppy since Oreo died and we are now all home. It seems like a perfect time to puppy train. We won’t be flying anywhere for a while! Taking a dog out on walks gets us out. Eventually, god knows when, everyone will go back to school and I’ll be left to my own devices and then I’ll be terribly, terribly lonely. I like the idea of a pet we can all bond with as a family. Of bringing more love into our family and our lives.
With more love, of course, comes more responsibility. And who wants more responsibility during a pandemic? Not my husband. Me, I’m just looking for an escape. Take me to the land of puppies, please! Yes, that is where I’d like to go.
Getting a puppy will be a beautiful distraction. A messy, big-responsibility, huge and beautiful distraction. I’m worse than the pigeon who wants a puppy (book by children’s author Mo Willems – look it up if you haven’t read), WAY worse. I’d gladly accept a walrus at this point.
Anything to shake me out of the reverie of this nightmare.
To you and your family, be well.
Puppy pictures to follow, fingers crossed (my husband is shaking his head).
Update: We got our boy! Meet Louie, an 8.5 week old vizsla puppy. I have three happy girls, and Dan is thrilled.