The New Normal; Coping With Sheltering In Place

Featured in Motherwell Magazine:

I live in Washington state, ground zero for the corona virus. One day things were perfectly normal, and then, almost before everyone knew it, they weren’t. These days I check in with the news regularly for updates. Reports talk about the spread of a virus that has quickly morphed into a world-wide pandemic.

I have tried not to fall into a panic, although the feeling lies in wait, just below the surface, a grim foreshadowing of things to come. Those of us who live in Seattle are somewhat over- educated on the subject of the corona virus. Initially, what I perceived to be an overload of information, has become not only useful, but at times, necessary as drastic events unfold almost daily.

A Recent Dream Of A Fully Stocked Grocery Store

My weekly trip to the local Fred Meyer, has quickly turned into a kind of post-apocalyptic experience. As I traverse the aisles, the toilet paper was all but gone. I grab a few packages of what was left, the fluffy stuff, which lasts about an hour in my house. Then it’s on to the soap aisle. My plan to buy a few travel-sized hand sanitizers vanishes on site. Nothing was there, the bin, completely bare. As I pushed my cart down the aisle, I began to realize whole shelves were naked. Forget about travel size, there was no hand sanitizer period and liquid soaps were all but picked over, except for a few oddly fragranced Kiwi Watermelon.

"Meanwhile a man down the soup aisle was hoarding Campbell’s Chunky Chicken Noodle into his cart. Nearby, another mom with tousled hair, dressed in tights and a hoodie was grabbing stacks of ramen and throwing them in her cart. As I slowly roll by, a young couple careens past me with palates of water. I didn’t even know they sold palates of water and wondered if they made a deal with the store manager. I take a deep breath and ponder whether or not to make a deal with the store manager".

I resist the temptation to stock pile ramen or make a deal with the store manager and look down at my grocery list. It's reasonable this week, fruit, veggies (including greens for Walter, our rabbit), coffee, milk, creamer and toilet paper, check. I’m pretty well-stocked, don’t need much of anything, so I try and re-assure myself that this whole situation will blow over; after all, it’s only temporary, right? Despite my attempts at self-assurance, I did ask the manager when they're getting their next shipment of toilet paper (not the fluffy kind), just in case.

Panic Purchasing

Fast forward a couple of days. The school district, community centers and Seattle’s downtown have closed down indefinitely, and local government officials are telling us to self-regulate. I’m just imagining my 13 year-old daughter and her best friend, who happens to live across the street, practicing self-regulating behavior. And what am I supposed to do with everyone home? My oldest who was finally off to college, is now coming home. What is happening?

Fast forward to now. My entire family is home, including my husband who has to deal with the stock market on a daily basis. Glancing at his computer screen, filled with charts of colorful peaks and valleys reminds me of particularly heinous roller coaster and the memory makes me shudder. We are on mandatory ‘Stay-At-Home’ orders from both local and national government, and the mandate has taken effect across the nation.

"As information continues to gather on how best to care for ourselves and others, I struggle to adjust to my entire family living at home 24/7. I am in full-time-mom-mode, multi-tasking assignments with meal-planning and the new normal of home-schooling. I didn’t sign up for this. It’s like my worst nightmare has come to life. If there has ever been a scenario worthy of an adult tantrum, this would be it".

I wonder what my tantrum would look like. I can imagine falling to the floor in an ugly heap of tears. Or would it play out differently? I’d serve cold oatmeal for a week, let the laundry pile up and leave the girls to their own devices, like playing Minecraft and watching The Amazing World of Gumball all-day, every-day, while having chocolate for breakfast, and those crispy, sugar-coated Chicks for dinner, with soda.

I take another deep breath. Although a tantrum is justified, I know that it would just pile on MORE work. No, for now I’ll hug my husband and text my friends. They’re all stewing in this with me, and I’m so grateful for them. Despite everything, I know that we will all get through this; we have to. #coronavirus #shelteringinplace #pandemic #coronavirusstories

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