Safer at Home Journal For My Kids, by Kat

From the mind of a far better writer than I, here is Kat of The Lily Café‘s beautiful perspective of this Coronavirus year, in a journal letter to her children:

Dear Kids,

We had so many plans at the beginning of 2020. Museums, beaches, lots of time with your grandparents, a trip to see some cousins up north, zoo visits, and Disneyland at least 3 times. There was Kindergarten graduation, a fun summer, and the start of compulsory school for Brother to look forward to (the last more for Sister and Mom than Brother). It was going to be a fun year.

And then something happened at the end of last year. People in China were getting sick from something unknown. Kids, it turned out to be the coronavirus. Since we have friends and relatives in China, I kept a close eye on it. I watched it spread in Washington and then Northern California. It was only a matter of time before it hit us in L.A.

We had a month and a half before people started to worry, before cases here started to be due to community spread in early March. Our school district was the first to shut down. Honestly, I was ready to pull Brother before then because Dad works with people who travel a lot and I was afraid of infecting his classmates and teachers. Thankfully, the district decided to close for at least 2 weeks.

It turned out to be a lot longer than 2 weeks. It was the rest of the school year. It broke my heart hearing Brother and all of his classmates ask when they were going to be able to go back to school. Back then, school was weird. We were given a list of assignments to complete each day and class was only 30 minutes twice a week. Though it was fun to watch them prepare for graduation. Still, being home instead of the classroom was rough.

The week after the school district closed, our mayor shut down the city. The county and the state followed. We weren’t just doing school from home, we were also stuck at home. It was eerie to see the streets so empty. Weird that Dad took the freeway to and from work because there was suddenly no traffic. Strange to not be able to go to the market every week. Bizarre that Dad had to wait an hour or more outside stores in a long line before he could dash in and get one thing.

March turned into AprilMayJuneJulyAugust. I’m sure it’s the 200th day of March by now. Not really, but it feels like it sometimes. Masks started making their rounds and people couldn’t hug or shake hands anymore. Inside, it got louder with Brother home and Sister becoming more vocal and active as she turned 3. Sister’s was our first pandemic birthday in our family and it was weird to do it over Zoom, but we did get to see relatives who live far away, so there’s one silver lining to this whole pandemic thing.

Summer was almost agonizing. Restrictions started being lifted, reopenings began to roll out. More people emerged from their homes. And then the protests started. Protests for racial justice. Protests calling for police reform. Protesters gathering with and without masks. It was inevitable that cases were going to rise, the deaths were going to rise, the hospitalizations were going to rise. And they did. They all did. Public Health seemed to freak out, and back into our homes we were forced.

Not that it changed much for us. Dad still went to work on a modified schedule and the rest of us just stayed home. No beach trips, no Disneyland trips, just weekly Zoom sessions with family. Since we live in a densely populated area, even going out for walks freaked me out. Being high risk just made me want to stay inside and press myself against windows to soak up every bit of sunshine instead. But it did help that it was just too hot to go outside.

But, with the rise in cases, reopenings turned into more restrictions and closures. And more protests to protest that. We did manage to go out for dinner in early July, near the beach, but I spent the next two weeks anxiously waiting to see if any of us developed symptoms. It was too exhausting, so I decided we were never doing that again.

School started in late August. Fully online. Zoom classes 9-12 Monday-Friday. Asynchronous (school work) became our new least favorite word. Though I have enjoyed getting a bird’s eye view into class for Brother. I love knowing exactly what he’s doing, what he’s supposed to be learning. I hate that he’ll only do his asynchronous work as long as I do it alongside him. I feel like I’m back in First Grade, but that’s kind of okay because I don’t even remember being in First Grade. I’ve loved seeing Brother’s progress. It’s been hard on Sister, though, because she has to keep quiet and I keep going back and forth between her and Brother. She does like to try to get involved in class, though, and I wonder if she’ll remember any of the things Brother is learning. She keeps saying she’s ready for school and wants to go to First Grade. First on the list, though, is becoming fully potty trained. Oh yes, distance learning and potty training have been a real ball. Kids, I do not recommend this. If you remember your mother being a complete nutcase, this is why.

But people have become tired, restless, and disgruntled. As an introvert, I love not being obligated to be anywhere, not having to socialize, and, honestly, neither of you have really complained. But not everyone is like us. And not everyone likes wearing masks. Or keeping their distance. As the year winds down, we’re in a really bad place. Look, my asthma makes wearing a mask difficult. I can’t wear one for more than 30 minutes before I start feeling lightheaded. My inhaler is my accessory. But I’d rather suffer than be infected or infect someone else. So I get mad when I see people not wearing masks, hear people gathering, watch people get close to each other when they don’t live together. I suffer because I want to survive the pandemic, and I can’t help but feel people are too self-centered to do the things that actually protect people, loved ones, so I get angry, and now we’re in trouble. I’m sorry if all you remember from this time is me complaining about people. It’s been so hard keeping both of you inside and I’m sure you’re dreaming of playgrounds, but just thinking of all the unsafe things people are doing when Dad and I are both high risk makes me too anxious.

Deep breath. Kids, as I write this, we’re basically back on lockdown. Our governor, idiot and hypocrite though he is, has divided the state into regions and decided that, should the percentage of available ICU beds drop below 15%, the whole region will go back into a stay at home order. That happened in early December for us. The last number I had was 5% of ICU beds in the Southern California region were available. That was December 12th. We wear masks, stay home, and keep our distance in order to protect our healthcare workers. Part of me wants to be mean and hope people start going to the hospitals, only to find there are no beds available and not enough healthcare workers to take care of them. But that is a terrible thought. Instead, I’m wishing, hoping, and praying we can finally do what we need to do in order to actually save lives.

We broke 10,000 cases in one day on December 6th; 12,000 on December 10th; and 13,000 on December 11th. That was our county alone. It’s been climbing. Hospitalizations are at an all time high. Deaths are starting to creep up. There is absolutely no way we’re going anywhere any time soon. Dad is even working from home more often now. This is so much worse than it was over the summer, and, honestly, I’m scared. What if Dad and I do become infected? We’re both high risk and we would both end up in the ICU. If there are beds left. At this point, getting infected would be a death sentence for us. And we’d leave both of you orphans. It’s scary, and it makes me mad. It makes me want to lash out at people. I’m scared silly of leaving both of you alone, and I’m hoping that, as you’re reading this, I’m still alive and well. And I’m hoping I’m not scaring you too much, but, well, this is what life is like right now. History in the making, I suppose.

Kids, right now, you’re 3 and 6. Both of you are homebodies, so not much is new. Yes, you miss the zoo, beaches, museums, and Disneyland, but I’m so proud of Brother for being so aware that it doesn’t actually bother him. Sister is just too young to realize things are different. Dad and I aren’t hiding anything from you, but we are doing our best to protect you, protect ourselves. I’m hoping your memories of this time are hazy, and you’re focusing more on Christmas right now than how bad our country is. And, oh, yeah, this was an election year. No real clue what’s going on with that, but I’ll update you on January 20, 2021.

But some good things have happened. The US is back to sending astronauts to space from American soil. We got to watch the last SpaceX-NASA test flight with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins via Zoom, as well as the first actual crewed flight to the ISS in mid-November. If anyone asks, the astronauts were in quarantine before leaving Earth, and we’re pretty sure the ISS is the safest place for humans right now.

My darlings, I wish things were different. I wish things were better. But, most of all, I wish you don’t remember this by the time you’re old enough to read this. I especially hope you don’t remember my fear, worry, anger, and frustration, but, if you or your kids have a history project on this point in history, yes, it was really rough. On the bright side, a vaccine is rolling out (shipped December 13th!), with widespread availability by the summer. As scared as I still am, I can’t help but have my fingers crossed you’ll both be in school in the Fall. Safely, of course. Otherwise, if you end up being homeschooled, this is why. If I’ve learned anything this past year, life is all about those silver linings, the little bright spots, and I hope you’ve learned that, too. If not, better hop to it! Mom’s orders.

Love always,
Mom

©2020 Kat of The Lily Café

Photo by Jan Kopu0159iva on Pexels.com

Kat is an intelligent, analytical, creative, thoughtful, honest, and caring writer. She blogs about everything from book reviews to ratio baking to her detailed approach to motherhood to her own serial story, Queen of the Garden Girls. In her spare time, she promotes other bloggers and reads and comments on their work. Kat is also a wife, and mother to two beautiful children. I’ve had the great pleasure to know her since stumbling across her site with my mothering one. Thank you, Kat.

R.B.G. and Why It Sucks to Be a Woman

I’ve been living in a hole -not a bad one, mind you. I have all the material comforts, I’ve given birth before my biological clock feels it missed something, and I live in a very safe area.

The recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has set me wondering, questioning my cozy hole and how much of it is that cozy. For, despite my ease, I am constantly stressed and depressed at my position as a stay-at-home-mother. I feel trapped by my sex, my children’s well-being, and the overall logic of my being the housewife and mother.

Why did learning about Mrs. Ginsburg’s life open this can of worms? If you ask that question, you haven’t read her Wikipedia page.

By Supreme Court of the United States – Supreme Court of the United States, Public Domain

I tend to get all of my political information from my husband, by choice. I do not like politics, a subject that turns human beings into snarling, glaring dogs -dogs who can talk, naturally, in order to insult each other’s mothers. From Kevin, I heard how Ginsburg was anti-family and pro-abortion. She was liberal. Thank goodness we’ll get another justice soon.

Sound harsh? Don’t raise your hackles until you acknowledge what categories you place political figures in. Yes, categories. CATEGORIES are what drive me mad.

I’ve discussed this subject before, because I do not fit in and I do not like attempts to fit me in. Primarily, today, and in R.B.G.’s tiny but ignominious shadow, I refer to sex (or, gender, if you prefer) .

I recently encountered a female realtor. Dressed in a sheath and high heels, she displayed white, straight teeth and blonde-colored hair. She, like others in the profession, was selling herself. And, as I always do, I hated her for it. I disagree with dressing sexily. Would a male realtor show up in such a getup, displaying cleavage as he outlined the merits of his wares?

I didn’t think so.

I also recently encountered a female repairman. Dressed in long shorts with socks and a company shirt, she smiled occasionally and her hair was short and of a nondescript color. She, like others in the profession, was selling furnace warranties. I marveled at her. She dressed and acted just like the male repairmen we’ve hosted in our basement.

Do you automatically categorize the two women? I do. The first is probably a wife and mother of a few children*, loves romance, and doesn’t know much about her car. The second is a lesbian, likes action movies, and could wire her own house if her cats stayed out of the way**.

Categories, categories, categories. They help us humans in a complex world of other humans. But, they also limit and often diminish those other humans. I feel it. Do you?

But I mentioned Ginsburg. I mentioned women. I mentioned sex.

Ruth Ginsburg is the sort of person I wondered at, as I enjoyed attending any college I wished or voted for whomever I wanted. I’d heard that women didn’t always have the freedoms I enjoyed, historically. I’d heard that women were advised to not go into this career or attend that college on the mere merits of their being born with a uterus. Mrs. Ginsburg’s life story, as I learned, attests to that rumor.

And, frankly, my own husband’s views do as well. While telling me that he values my intelligence and opinions, he simultaneously puts women down for seeking to further themselves academically or professionally. Why? Because family is most important to him, and women who choose school and work do not have large families. Many do not have families at all.

Think he’s wrong? Think he’s outdated and rude and opinionated? Think back to your perceptions of the two women I described. Morever, acknowledge that stereotypes exist because they are accurate; those women are what I described and behave accordingly.

Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

Which brings me to another problem I encounter in my efforts of World Peace and Unity in the face of sexual differences: sexual differences. They are there. Men behave in stereotypical fashions and women behave in stereotypical fashions. There are general intelligence differences. There are anatomical differences, for Pete’s sake! Yet, when I attempt to bring them to surface in order to understand the world, we are (understandably) cautious.

To be fair, stereotypes exist in other categories (categories!!) as well. I enjoy jokes about engineers and play a personal game of guessing which instrument someone plays when s/he asks me (I have a very high rate of accuracy, too!). In that light, why are stereotypes about sex so wrong? Why are they taboo?

Should we ask R.B.G?

“The pedestal upon which women have been placed has all too often, upon closer inspection, been revealed as a cage.”

-Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

-Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Women are people, that’s why. We are people who breathe, bleed, feel, and aspire to things. We THINK. Unfortunately, we women are sometimes going about equality as “equality”. We’re sometimes cheating.

Photo by Misha Voguel on Pexels.com. Why is she suggestively resting amongst rope??

The problem, as always, is sex (not the sort that’s gender, this time). I live with all males and prefer talking to males. I know how often this is a factor. When it comes down to males and females, females have the advantage of sex. And, many women are not ashamed to flaunt their attractiveness to gain favors. Hence, my disdain for the realtor and my wonder at the repairwoman.

For, in my perfect world, Ginsburg and women and sex would be nonissues. Merit, intelligence, and performance would be everything. Unfortunately, we humans are not blind nor unfeeling.

Another issue is child-bearing. Women are the only ones who can do it. As part of that package; we have menstrual cycles, fluctuating hormones, pregnancy itself, and a lifelong responsibility to raise what came out of us. This is where I differ from Madame Ginsburg slightly in opinion, since the woman is not making abortion solely her own choice if she decides to keep the baby (I refer to costs of welfare). Still, making and caring for humans is a big deal; someone needs to do it for the future to not suck so badly.

And until surgical techniques improve drastically, that someone is going to be female. Ideally, she’ll be the one from whom the child comes. Why? Attachment issues, darn it.

I have no solution to my problems of fitting out. I have no solution for stereotypical thinking. I have no solution for women like me. What do I have? A respect for people (PEOPLE!!!) like Ruth Baden Ginsburg. Way to be. Not only did she try to be fair, she did so in the face of obviously-sexual discrimination.

Do I agree with everything she said or did? No. That would be silly. That would be a category. What I do agree with is what I said: authenticity, fairness, and merit.

Rest in peace, Madame. May your ideals live on as you intended.

From left to right: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, (Ret.), Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg & Justice Elena Kagan in the Justices’ Conference Room prior to Justice Kagan’s Investiture. Source.

©2020 Chel Owens

*It’s Utah. Everyone’s married, with children.
**In fact, the repairwoman was also married and had children.

Except for the Exceptions

Midnight. Same as eleven. Same as ten. Same as nine eight seven six…
Except she yawned. She blinked a few more times than earlier.

Water the plants. Water the children. Water the trees vegetables flowers weeds…
Except for every other day. Except for the vegetables; they were every day.

Socks, folded. Same as shirts. Same as pants socks pajamas undies…
Except there were no exceptions.

“You should try a vacation,” they said. “I want you to be happy,” he said.
Except for when it affects me, he thought.

Except for when her happiness interferes with everyone else’s.

Home Life Poetry

The Laundry

I start the clothes
Then, finds some holes
In folds and soles
Then thinks
Or yells,
-‘Midst stinks
And smells-
“It’s time to switch up roles!”

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Stay At Home Mothering Melancholia

Some days I sit or stand or write and sigh.
I feel the world; it turns without an I.
Yet stand I still and sigh as still I stand
And wonder at my world of self-made sand.

A day in ten, I’ll press against the glass;
See others, walking, smiling, talking past.
They wave; I raise a hand, a shy half-smile.
Some beckon; No, I say, to thoughts erstwhile.

I’ll stay and stand and sigh and write today;
I’ll watch and lift my mouth a twitch and wave;
I’ll cry and sift some sand from out’ the way;
I’ll forget this melanchol’ia. I’m okay.

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Photo Credit
Nik MacMillan
Jules Marchioni