It has been nearly four weeks since we closed our schools, began a stay at home order, and slowly backed away from life as we knew it. What started as a two week closure of our schools extended to a month-long closure, culminating with an April Fools Day emergency board meeting which ended in-person classroom instruction for the 2019-2020 school year. Spring Break has come and gone, with many of our best laid vacation plans cancelled. ‘Staycation’ became the word of the week, though not by choice, and being at home where work is constantly accessible, any sort of ‘cation’ is an illusion. Work is now exclusively from home, with meetings via Zoom, Facetime, and other remote platforms. And this week, our school district officially started its distance learning program.
The apocalyptic feeling of four weeks ago has not subsided. With the rain pouring here in Southern California and the hiking trails closed the past several weekends, there is little respite from the reality of living, learning, and working from home with everyone at home- sharing spaces, computers, supplies, and patience. Toilet paper is still hard to find on our now less frequent trips to Costco and Target in the Pasadena area, and what was an abundant supply at the beginning of the quarantine is dwindling. Though not as quickly as the supply of morale throughout the house. Four weeks in, and it feels as though this will never end. Or that we’re coming to an end. My mother is stuck half-way across the world in the Philippines, as her return flight home to Los Angeles keeps getting pushed back. At least she’s with her siblings, and enjoying the time they have together. We cannot visit my father at the hospital. It is for his protection and that of the other subacute patients, however it is hard not being able to check in on them. The kids especially have had their shares of disappointments. Samantha, our youngest, thrives on routine. Among her siblings, she had the easiest transition into middle school and has loved her experience. She has a sweet group of friends, and has formed good relationships with her teachers and even her principal. She was looking forward to her orchestra performance and field trip to Disneyland in May. Now that all that’s gone for the year, the anxiety has become harder for her to manage. Nate was really excited for his band field trip to Disneyland. I’m not sure that it’s registered that his promotion will look different from what he was expecting, and that the eighth grade Knott’s Berry Farm trip has been cancelled. Emily had qualified to both State and National tournaments in policy debate. She was looking forward to traveling to compete in her event, but now State has been cancelled, and there is talk about moving Nationals online. And Jacob, my senior. He and his fellow class of 2020 will finish their high school experience remotely. Graduation will look different from the classes before them. And it seems that my usually stoic son has been going through the stages of grief as he considers what he hoped his senior year would be and compares it to what’s happening now.
They’re not alone in what they’re experiencing- the anxiety, uncertainty, the disappointment, the grief. This is a stressful time for many families, as routines have come to a halt, as we’re all forced to be together. We have been fortunate that there hasn’t been the added stress of employment uncertainty. It is difficult to manage work and family life, but we’re thankful to have that challenge. And while it was a huge blow when Los Angeles County closed its beaches and hiking trails, at least there are neighborhood walks and a few municipal parks open. We put our bunny on a leash and took her to Lacy Park in San Marino for a physically distanced picnic. We looked a little nutty, but Penelope on a leash brought a few laughs, and we even ran into some friends. Six feet apart, of course. Even though the world as we knew it has come to a pause this early in 2020, there are still many things to be thankful for. We have each other. Even though we do drive each other nuts sometimes.
This is a stressful time for everyone. I’ve linked a few resources below. Stay well.
For resources related to mental health, visit:
Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
You can also reach out to a trusted friend, family member, clergy, or school counselor. We need to be physically distant during this coronavirus pandemic, but stay socially connected.
For unemployment in California, visit the Employment Development Department.
For information related to the Covid19 pandemic, remain off social media, and visit
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For information specific to Los Angeles County, visit L.A. County Department of Public Health.