Just a few days ago everything seemed normal. I mean far more normal than it does now. Now everyone is too close in the shows I’m watching. Nobody obsessively washes their hands in the books I’m reading. All pop culture seems unimportant and simple. Light. We are living in the heavy and so we have to make it somehow lighter or we are doomed to sink forever. We are officially in shut in mode – though we’ve been shut in for a week, save for walks.
That seems surreal to write – shut in mode. Shut down mode. I won’t say quarantine, because we are all healthy – so far. I won’t say panic mode, because we aren’t. We are doing just fine – until the panic moments hit. We have what we need, we have work, we have entertainment, we have each other. We are carving out these incredibly special rich moments together – without anything special – that never would have happened if not for this. We have everything.
I even find myself really liking my husband a lot this week and I wasn’t sure that would happen. Having all four of us home is a different dynamic and definitely takes some adjusting but we are doing pretty damn well so far. We’ve had to cancel everything and we have sadness about that, but it is for the greater good. And THAT is the whole point.
There are so many sick or vulnerable or on the front lines of this or in service work and my heart and gratitude is with them every single second.
Every morning I wake up and have a moment of normal and then remember nothing is normal. You know how for a few years now we’ve been saying, “this is not normal”, well this is a whole nother level. And it is the most not normal we’ve ever experienced. But here we are. And we are here. So now what.
We are moms and dads and daughters and sons and and co-workers and bosses and students and teachers and friends and foes. We are all equal in that this is all terrifying.
Our humanity is showing through every crack and crevice and it’s kind of quite beautiful. It makes me like my coworkers more when I hear their dogs bark or see their messy hair or kids yelling and dancing on a video. When I see the humanity seep through the cracks, I find the commonality. Look, I know nobody in my office is wearing office pants this week and I don’t need to know what’s going on from the waist down and that is delightful.
I keep seeing articles about how lonely working in isolation is. I don’t agree. We work harder to wave to each other. We pick up the phone or write each other more notes. Social media is SO good when used for good. All the talents of so many reaching through screens.
I find we are reaching out more now than when everything was “normal”.
What can you do? Now is your time to give something, even just a kind word, to the world. Your works. Your creativity with words of love and encouragement – if you feel like sharing it. To our world. Wow, think of all the possibilities just a kind word can bring in the midst of all the awfulness.
My friend Kelly and I have this unending text thread. She says I’m an eternal optimist and she’s well, not. We go at it. We disagree. But we keep going at it. Together. She keeps checking in on me and I on her and we JUST KEEP GOING. We keep reminding each other that there is no quitting in parenting. That we have to keep going for these kids because if we don’t who will and we pepper into these motivational texts a lot of swearing and sharing of inappropriate reactions to things that are happening in the world and in our own homes. She makes me laugh. A lot. She also keeps me grounded. GET YOU A KELLY.
She also said the other day that my recovery has kind of built me for this.
Well. I hadn’t thought of it exactly like that, but she has a point. I have been made to withstand anything and do it sober. I have been made to take the highs and the lows and use the tools I’ve gathered to walk through it with grace and dignity and always always always find the hope and humor. HA! Does that include making some type of baked good each day and eating pretty much all of it? Is that grace and dignity?
I am feeling all the feelings, as I know you are too.
I am sad and mad for my kids. I’m sad that they are missing out on the experience of being kids – first graders. At school. The social and emotional impact of going to school cannot be entirely replicated at home. I mean, they are learning all the time and everything is a teaching opportunity, but my god, this is a lot, and I am not qualified. But we do our best with what we have.
So here is what I want to say to you – my fellow moms – during this time when you are stretched so thin, when your worry is threatening to swallow you whole and you question how we will make it out of this and what the world will look like when we do and what will our children’s futures look like, here is what I want to say to you.
Do the next right thing.
Yes, like the song in Frozen II. Just hear me out. This phrase is an oldie but a goodie in the world of recovery rooms and it’s served me incredibly well. Do the next right thing.
When we first saw this movie in the theater I whisper screamed at my husband, THAT’S FROM AA, and then cried and cried. Because this phrase, this concept has helped me create my life. The life I live today, that I am given today is BECAUSE of doing the next right thing. In early recovery that means don’t take that drink or drug. Call your sponsor, get your ass to a meeting. Be of service. BE OF SERVICE.
I am so thankful for local leadership showing up and doing the next right thing. Making calm and rational well thought out decisions. WE MOMS are the local leadership in our families. Now, dads, please don’t come at me, I am saying this to you too. We are the ones that need to make calm and rational and well thought out decisions for our families. WE ARE THE ONES. We need to do the next right thing.
Right now, the next right thing may be to hold a day of homeshool for your two first graders because learning is important but almost more important is routine and structure in the long term. I know I thrive in routine as do my kids. I am in charge. I make the rules.
The next right thing may be taking a day to do nothing much but cuddle and give in to the “do you have anything you want to talk about and is this causing you to feel any feelings you want to share” route. I know I have. I have to honor myself and my family in this way and sometimes that manifests in an entire day playing on screens or playstation four. Nothing is normal right now. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Do the next right thing.
The next right thing might be taking a jog or a walk or doing yoga OR it might be baking or writing or painting or reading or watching Schitt’s Creek again for the fifth time.
The next right thing is always be kind, be kind, be kind. Be empathetic, be kind.
The next right thing might be going into the bathroom and crying for five minutes. Taking care of yourself as best you can in along with taking care of all 800 other things moms have to take care of is what we do best, even when we act like we can’t. YES WE CAN. Yes, we are all stepping up right now and if people aren’t then GET THEM ON BOARD OR GET THEM OUT.
The next right thing is definitely expressing yourself and your feelings about what you are thinking and feeling and all that is happening in some way. Journal, write, sing, play music, dance, photography, painting, SOMETHING.
The next right thing might be writing a note to a teacher or administrator letting them know how much more you value what they do now than ever before. It might be a voicemail for someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time but are thinking of in this time.
The next right thing is doing a facetime with grandparents because this is all scary and we miss them as much as they miss us because we cannot be together right now. Also, ask for videos or recordings of the people you love in your life reading books to your kids. Now is the time.
The next right thing is stepping in and corralling a friend or family member spiraling into anxiety or depression because you know it when it presents itself in so many ways. CHECK ON YOUR PEOPLE. Check on the people around you FROM A DISTANCE. I am that lady yelling at folks through windows right now and I will keep it up as long as I have to. We also have the technology to be there for each other. WHAT A GIFT. We need to use it well and often. We need these folks to corral us when we start spiraling. This is how this all works.
The next right thing is being of service in some way, shape or form. Be that to someone in recovery or a neighbor or a child. Getting outside myself always always always helps.
The next right thing is watching the news or reading the news only a couple times a day and from credible sources. Fact checking has always been and continues to be incredibly important.
I know that this is a lot. I know that moms are already overwhelmed on any given normal day, but this, this is above our pay grade. THIS is doing the next right thing.
The moms in my life and I’m sure yours are rallying right now. My community of moms and the school moms are doing THE MOST with our encouragement and offers of help and wisdom and support and encouragement and it is just lovely to witness and feel a part of that. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be. But I am and I deserve a seat at this large wicked awesome table of moms today. I am so incredibly thankful for you moms. I cannot remember my life without this army of women walking this walk right along with me.
Moms, I am reminding you that we are not quitting on parenting. Nope. We can freak out and cry and lose our wits but then we come back and keep going, because we must. We can, we must, we will.
I also want to add that for many of us who are in recovery seeing SO many moms groups posting pics and memes about drinking to cope with all this is a lot. It’s unhealthy & harmful to so many of us. I say this with no judgement as you know I never would judge a normal drinker, but to those of you who don’t want to drink, I say to you as a reminder and in solidarity – We don’t have to drink to cope. We don’t have to drink to get through this. We don’t have to drink to feel like we fit in. We don’t.
I say this all to you as someone who is anxious and depressive and in recovery from alcoholism and I know of what I speak. I say all this to you to say, we can do the next right thing even when it’s really really hard.
I also say this because moms are the strongest people I know. Moms are the funniest people I know. Moms are the most resilient, the most talented, the most creative, the most multi-dimensional, the most bad ass people I know. Strength isn’t always keeping it all together, it’s feeling all your feelings, and continuing on with them. Through them. It’s not pretty, oh no. But it is courageous.
We can be ok even when everything is out of our control. Change is hard. We are in the midst of a back against the wall moment in history only there is no wall yet and we are free falling. Our kids are writing this history. Their kids will benefit from what comes of it. Will we make it amazing or the pits. It’s terrible and exciting. It’s end times and just beginning. So much is going to change we have literally no clue how different our world will be after all of this.
We are super uncomfortable with no timeline and not being ok. That’s something I learned early in recovery. How to be ok with not being ok, but this is like, the entire world not being ok. This is being a parent in times when we seriously have no idea how to guide them to safety. But we can still be ok. We can still be their guide to safely.
I will not tell you to stop being negative, or don’t be scared, or to be positive all the time, or that everything will be ok, because how the hell could I know that. What I do know it that WE can be ok. We can be ok through this. Even though we have no earthly clue what will happen, we can still be ok. We must. Together, from a physical distance. We are in this together. Doing the next right thing. And I am in such good company with all of you.
All these kids are learning from us through this in ways we won’t know – maybe ever. But they are learning how to handle a crisis and how to love and how to be strong and how to feel our feelings and process them in a healthy way. We are all responsible. I want to do the next right thing. For them, for all of us.
So listen to this song (maybe for the 800th time if you’ve watched this movie as much as we have), feel it, cry, scream, yell, curse the sky, bang your chest and carry on. Do the next right thing. Just keep going. I will too.
Speaking of music, and that song, I did a thing including that song, because I’m sure none of us has heard it nearly enough.
I made a Spotify playlist of stuff to help me through – most make me smile, make me grateful, or make me cry – which is ok too. But play it on shuffle because I don’t have an order and it’s better on shuffle. Trust. I’ll keep adding to it as we go….
Hey follow me on social media! My two favs are:
Instagram! @twosoberfourthis where I share way too much on my stories and twitter @2_sober_4_this where I really speak my mind.