While scrolling through social media the other day, I came across a post in one of my parenting groups asking people what accomplishments they would be able to claim after this time of quarantine.
There were more than 400 replies listing admirable reports of entire house exteriors painted and raised-bed gardens planted and antique furniture refinished. I quit reading when I got to a report of someone spatchcocking a chicken.
Meanwhile, I haven’t done a single extra project during the entire coronavirus stay-home season so far.
I haven’t cleaned out one closet or raked a square foot of my yard. I haven’t repainted any room or sorted a solitary pile, although I’ve got closets and feet and rooms and piles aplenty that could stand the attention.
I certainly haven’t painted the exterior of my house or planted a garden or refinished any furniture. And, even if I wanted to, I have no idea what spatchcocking a chicken is, much less how to do it. (I did, however, marinate some boneless, skinless breasts in premade Italian dressing the other day and gave them to my husband to throw on the grill.)
Neither have I had my at-home children do these things, because they are busier than ever trying to do their schoolwork and their jobs that now take more time than ever to figure out and accomplish well.
To anyone who has done these things (and more), please know I stand in awe and admiration of you. I am truly applauding you.
After reading all those comments, though, I started to wonder what, exactly, I HAVE been doing with my time.
I don’t have young children I’m trying to corral or crisis-educate. I don’t have an essential job outside the home—but it sure feels like I’ve got an essential job inside my home.
I finally figured out that I haven’t been doing extra things, but I have been doing some unusual things. Maybe this is what you’ve been doing, too.
I’ve been baking with my teenager on weekday mornings. I’ve been cooking family dinners every night. For a family with two older children who have danced several nights a week for years, this every-night-dinner-together deal is a bit of a shock to the system.
I’ve been telling my stressed college daughter, “If there’s a thing in the world I can do to make life easier for you right now, just say it.” And so the other night, when she messaged me from her room upstairs while I was downstairs and asked, “Could you possibly bring me a popsicle?” I thought that I had never been happier to do anything in my life.
I’ve been watching movies until midnight with my college-bound high school junior after my husband has gone to bed. This feels like bonus time with her that I’ll look back on and treasure when she’s many hours away at school.
I’ve been going on “walk ‘n talks” with several friends, though I almost never normally talk on the phone. I’ve logged miles and hours along my country road, chatting on my cell phone with friends while they talk on theirs, whether they’re walking or crocheting afghans.
I’ve been trying to check in with people.
I’m so thankful that getting through this extraordinary, unprecedented time in history is not a competitive sport.
There is no grand prize for the person who emerges from quarantine with the cleanest closets or the tidiest yard or the most new recipes tried or the longest list of books read. Though those are all good things that are prizes unto themselves, of course.
We are all doing what we have to do to get through this with our families healthy and intact. We’re all doing some unusual things—and some usual things in unusual ways. We’re not trying to win against each other; we’re trying to win with and for each other.
For some, getting through and winning means staying busy and tackling those closets and yards. For others, it means being quiet and reflective. For still others, it means doing what they have to do to meet the needs of children who are suddenly home all of the time.
Sometimes, making the most of our time means doing more and, sometimes, it means doing less. Either way, the point is to make sure the people we love know how much they mean to us.
That’s how we all win.