If you had told me four months ago that I would spend my spring locked up in the house with tweenage triplets, a teenager girl, a husband, and a dog for months, I would have been very tempted to pack a bag and hit the road. By myself. Second to fears of someone in my family getting a terrible disease is the terrifying thought of being stuck day and in and day out in the house with four kids. Fear number three would be that I would have to homeschool my children.
Before the Coronavirus became the worst pandemic in our lifetime, we were in a life groove. It was busy and sometimes annoying driving kids back and forth from the beach to the skatepark, but I did it most days with a smile on my face because that is part of the joy of living near the beach. Every single day I would drive my son and his friends to the beach to surf for a few hours after school and my daughter to the skatepark. Some days it made me feel nuts, being a slave to my children’s passions.
On February 28th we had a birthday for the triplets at the beach. The parents were gathered around drinking White Claws and contemplating this virus people were calling Coronavirus out of China. Naw, people are just making a big deal of it and it will be over before it started, some would say. Other friends were preparing for the next Black Plague and starting to stock food.
The following Friday we were having friends for dinner and I sent them a text earlier in the day that said, “Please leave your coronavirus at home – hahaha.” It was just starting to be worrisome and people were already self-quarantining. My friend said she made a bet with herself how long it would take for the coronavirus to become the topic of conversation that night, and it took a whole 10 minutes. I still didn’t think too much of this virus becoming what is would soon become.
Friday, March 20th California governor Gavin Newsom ordered a full lockdown for California. We were the first state to go on lockdown. Schools were canceled. People were hoarding toilet paper and chicken. That night I was going to make my famous Indian chicken dish that I was craving so intensely, but not a single store in my entire town had chicken.
But we could still go to the beach, so all was not lost. My son could still surf with his friends under strict orders to stay 6-feet away from each other. I could go on my beach walks. A few weeks later the city roped off all beach parking lots and banned surfing. When the beach closed, so did my spirits. My son spent his first day after beaches were closed rolling around on the ground in despair.
Today is April 20th and we have been on lockdown for an entire month. Here are my key takeaways.
Before Coronavirus lockdown, we never went on bike rides as a family because there were always other things to rush around to. We have dusted off those old bikes and taken some amazing bike rides down to the beach; something I have always wanted to do but never made the time for. I do workouts in my garage now. I don’t know what is more bizarre, the fact that we are quarantined for months or that I am doing garage workouts. I go to bed at midnight and sleep until 8 everyday, because why not? Instead of going to birthday parties, we do drive by birthday celebrations. I believe I have seen more joy on the faces of birthday girls and boys during drive by birthday celebrations than I have ever seen at a big, fancy birthday party. Facetime or Zoom happy hours are super weird, but refreshingly fun. I would love to keep some of these new quarantine activities when we are set free.
I don’t like playing games. In the past month, I have played more games of SkipBo, Clue, Mexican Train, Apples to Apples, and Sorry than I have in my entire life. It has been a real bonding experience and an outlet for us to laugh hysterically together in the midst of a scary time. My daughter and I have been cooking some awesome desserts, including Macarons, which are very hard to make as it turns out. We have been watching a lot of family movies together, all cuddled up on the couch. Without spending days driving frantically from one extracurricular activity to another, we are left with a certain peace waking up each morning knowing that it will be a slow day at home.
Quarantine is hardest on teenagers
Being in high school are the formative years for teenagers, and hard enough without being housebound for months. They are making new friendships, losing friendships, managing school and social media. This is their time to be social creatures and lay out their independence as they get ready to fly the coop. But now they are stuck inside the house day in and day out without the ability to see their friends. I am trying to have patience and grace, imagining how hard this time is for this particular age group. I must say, though, that the worst part is really that the rest of us are stuck inside the house with the teenager – we are the ones truly suffering. LOL. Here’s to all of you moms quarantined with a toddler or a teenager. . . I’m rooting for you.
We are not able to do much of anything so the things we are still able to do, we do them more. I try to balance my desire for a nightly cocktail and excessive chips and sweets with more exercise. Whether the balance pays off in the end is to be determined. We watch movies in excess, and because of this I have sat through some of the worst movies of my life. “Dodgeball” is definitely not my movie genre, as I have found out. I take a lot of long baths, long walks, and I have cleaned out a few cupboards twice. You would think my house is sparkling clean, but with six people living here and never leaving, it in a perpetual state of mess with intermittent periods where I can see my kitchen counters.
It never crossed my mind in 45 years of life that one day I would be relegated to my house like a prisoner, trying to avoid a terrible virus. It is like something out of a movie. In fact, if you watch Contagion, it is a lot like what we are going through, except scarier. I didn’t know how lucky I was to give my friend a hug or go sit on the beach and watch the sunset. I didn’t know how lucky I was to go on a date with my husband to a local restaurant or take a walk on my local trails. How nice it would be to go out in public without wearing a mask and gloves and go to the grocery store without waiting in a long line. Everything has changed in this moment of time. Life has become simpler now, and in this space and time when life has become slow it gives us time to reflect on what we have to look forward to when Covid-19 is under control.
Being quarantined for a month has given me the opportunity to explore my passions and interests, like what role I can play in contributing to a healthy planet. My husband and I are using less plastic and buying less things. Some days I wake up and feel very depressed that it is another day of feeding kids and cleaning up and trying to manage technology. Other days I wake up and tell myself, “you got this momma!” I can make this extraordinary time the worst misery for myself and my family, or I can embrace it and dream about the day when I get to go sit out on the beach and watch my son surf again. Today, I choose to embrace the quarantine.
As the mother of four children, including a set of triplets, it is important to me that my family all honor the earth, giving back and preserving the health of our oceans by making small changes in everyday life. Since beginning Ocean Junkies, my entire family has a new conscious awareness of using plastic straws and utensils in restaurants and how it’s related to the trash we see on the beach. It is my hope that through Ocean Junkies and other wonderful activist websites, we can raise awareness about plastic pollution and increase sustainable living by re-using what we have already created and creating from biodegradable and compostable materials.
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