Silver linings

I’m stuck. In a loop of indecisiveness, not sure if I should be “productive” and make real use of this time at home to get ahead on projects, scrub down the house, tackle a few home repairs, and finally use my online BeachBody membership (daily of course) to finally lose that extra 20 pounds. Or should I “practice self care” and take naps inbetween bingeing all of the newest series on Netflix, while eating a bag of pretzels with cream cheese or another peanut butter and jelly sandwich with my favorite chips on the side.

What kind of self care are we talking about?

The healthy, eat all of your vegetables and exercise an hour each day while doing mobility stretching or yoga and drinking green tea kind of self care? Or the more common – and let’s face it, more appealing – type of self care that involves hours of bingeing Netflix/Prime/Hulu/YouTube etc while eating cake frosting from the can as a “treat” for yourself after your dinner of tortilla chips and queso dip, while lounging in your pajama pants on the couch kind of self care?

Do I still need to shower everyday? And if so, does that count as a hand-washing experience making me a hero against germs?

I have lists, so many lists, of the things that I will accomplish during this shut-in, lock-down, quarantine time but…my list lingers on my already crowded desk that is on my list to be cleaned and organized to allow me to be more productive for my work at home duties.

I have stopped looking at Facebook as often, or the news, or any real time information for that matter, to save my sanity. I took that suggestion from an online news source that said it was harmful to my mental health to check these more than twice per day.

Who am I to argue?

I am tired of reading about new recipes to make homemade hand-sanitizer, playdough, sourdough starter or any other new age craft. I don’t plan on learning how to crochet or needlepoint now, and I won’t be trying to engage my neighborhood with chalk drawings on my driveway – or theirs – or respond to calls to come out of my house at 7pm to wave at my neighbors (why is it always at 7pm? What are we all doing all freaking day that we have to wait until almost dark to wave at each other??)

I cannot read another “helpful” (read: scolding) post about how my neighbors believe everyone should behave or live right now – the Gladys Kravitzs of the world are teaming up on social media to tattletale what they are witnessing in their own front yards, parks and grocery stores, and thanks to the gift of smartphones in our lives are even able to include pictures to publicly shame each other.

These are tough times. These are stressful times. I agree.

But these are also times to cut each other a little slack, to be helpful, to be giving and caring to each other. We are, after-all, all in this together…separately by at least 6 feet.

I have recently realized there is a silver lining to this entire experience. Actually, more than a few, in my world, if I’m honest.

For starters, my first true reason to smile with relief the day after we were ordered to shelter in place, was when it dawned on me that I would be stuck at home everyday with just my two teen-aged boys.

No husband.

I’ve been divorced for just three years now, after a long-term (over 20 year) marriage that ended like a cliche made for TV movie, complete with the coworker affair and immediate remarriage as soon as the ink was dry. Our marriage wasn’t horrible, but it was stressful for the most part. For me and for our kids. He was (and still is I would imagine) a self-centered, hot tempered control freak who needed constant attention and admiration. Try living with that everyday, all day and night, for the foreseeable future without an escape hatch of more than a trip to the grocery store.

I would have lost my mind, or become a depressed alcoholic by now, I am sure of it.

To know that we (my kids and I) did not have to share our home with him during this challenging time was almost enough to make me burst out into song, and dance, almost my own personal pandemic musical like no other every produced on Broadway!

I knew that I was free, but I didn’t realize how sweet that freedom truly was until now.

Which leads me to my second silver lining, my kids. They are old enough to be fun, to be helpful, to be caring and kind. We have cleaned the house together (without much push back on their part), we have spent countless hours watching Hell’s Kitchen and other shows that we all enjoy, as well as the hours spent playing board games and working on a thousand piece puzzle that is spread out on the dining room table as I write.

Meals have been relaxed. I am only cooking what we truly enjoy eating, and sometime we eat in front of the TV to keep watching Season 9 of Hell’s Kitchen (it’s a nail biter sometimes!) I’ve let go of the major dinner ideas, putting the pork loin in the freezer for a later time, now is not the time to try new recipes or new food groups. I decided to just cook what we love, what we really feel like eating, and sometimes that’s eggs and bacon…with pancakes.

This idea also reflects back to the joy of being divorced right now.

The thought of my ex being home all day would not only carry the expectation of the daily question “what’s for dinner?” but would also be extended to “what’s for lunch?” and possibly “what do we have for dessert?” Sprinkled in there would also be “why don’t we have (insert any one of his newly acquired dietary desires here)?” or “we’re out of milk again, when are you going to the store?”

A week or two, or more by now, of that would most likely culminate in a nervous eye tick.

PopTarts and cereal, sandwiches and bagels, maybe pizza or taco delivery. Spaghetti, butter chicken, french toast sticks and lots of bacon being cooked up. A batch of box brownies each week, maybe a banana nut cake to make use of those leftover bananas. Along with our favorite fruits and vegetables of course, I’m not a complete sloth!

Easy peasy, low stress sustenance that brings smiles to all.

Overall, yes it sucks and I miss my old life and the freedoms that came with it, but only the old life of the last couple of years. I am thankful that I can find the silver linings, that I can only worry about the real things that need to be worried about like our health (mental and physical) and well being without walking on eggshells trying to please one very demanding personality at the expense of everyone else’s comfort.

I miss my extended family and my friends and just seeing them and hugging them, but if I have to be quarantined in my home for weeks on end, I am very lucky it is with people that I love dearly and actually like to be around.

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