These days feel like an endless episode of Nailed It. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. 57 days of self isolation so far.
Here’s what I feel like I’m supposed to be creating: a harmonious home life, sufficient academic engagement (done online so teachers can track progress), unique learning opportunities beyond the assigned school work, online interaction with friends and family, life-skills training, a fully sanitized house, nourishing meals, and more. I’m sure there’s more. Oh….there’s bread. The shortage of flour and yeast indicate that everyone is making bread.
Posts of online music lessons, children learning new languages, pretty chalk drawings on sidewalks, jigsaw puzzles, and family movie nights are monopolizing my news feed.
I’m not sharing.
Until recently, nearly every moment has been cloaked in gravity. It’s been heavy. We’ve all been coming to terms with reality in our own ways. Mostly it’s been lots of tears and raised voices. It’s been chaos and frustration.
I’ve been building raised garden beds. Figuring out how to secure an area in the yard for the dog and children. Ordering seeds in hopes of growing food that will sustain us in these uncertain times. Preparing for and planting the trees and fruit bushes I ordered before the pandemic. We’re raising meat chickens. Laying chickens will arrive at the end of May. There’s a coop to be created. A mobile structure to house the meat birds. Like most things I undertake, I really don’t know what I’m doing. With everyone home all the time, there’s not much time to research or learn.
Then there’s the meals and snacks. Everyone is hungry all the time. On a consistent basis, I resort to store bought cereal. There isn’t time to produce home made breakfasts each day – something that happened before the pandemic. I struggle to churn out a batch of bread each week. School snacks that keep coming via Amazon subscribe and save are devoured in record time leaving the children with nothing until the next order arrives.
There are memories being made but not necessarily the picture perfect kind. They’re fuzzy and often convoluted. Like the moment before the 1yr old tries to bite into a baby chick because the 10yr old said it tastes like chocolate.
Chocolate is what gets us through most days. After dinner two pieces are handed out for children who went to bed without any trouble the night before and managed to eat the food given to them at supper. All of that’s easy for everyone except 5yr old, Branch.
Multiple times in the day, I throw up my hands and declare, “Nailed it!” I can hear the announcers voice from the tv show, “Here’s what you were supposed to create: a lovely learning experience of growing an orchard together. Here’s what you’ve given us…..” I’m crawling on the ground replanting all the apple saplings because the 5yr old pulled them out. I’m crying. The baby is crying in her stroller because no one will push her. The dog is barking at something. The 5 & 6yr old are running around somewhere, I’m not sure where. 10yr old is complaining that it’s too cold to be outside when I ask her to stroll the 1yr old. She goes in but then is out like a shot as soon as the neighbour children appear in their backyard. The 12yr old is standing over me saying with her usual measure of force, “These trees better not die.”
“It’s much easier to keep human babies alive than baby chickens,” my 10yr old observes when she finds another lifeless body. We started with 52 chicks and are now down to 43. Life lessons. Not necessarily pretty ones. “We’ll miss you, Supper!” the 5yr old says as the 12yr old transports the casualty. The chickens will eventually be food for us, so Branch has named them all Supper.
Life is unfolding. The children are learning but not through the vehicles provided. I can’t find hours a day to corral everyone around devices. The oldest are observing the parenting style of robins. There’s a nest visible from our dinning room. The younger watch flocks of red-winged black birds pecking along the driveway. They’re being read to daily. Most of the time, they’re getting along. As time goes on, there’s less strife. As time goes on, the fleeting beauty of significant moments are reaching me.
It’s hard. This season of life with all it’s uncertainty and unnatural restrictions is hard. It’s really hard. There’s goodness in the midst of it but that doesn’t negate just how hard it is.