pandemic diaries: weeks 48-49 (and a half!)

With less than three weeks until the one-year anniversary of school closures here in Oakland, alongside dramatically improving COVID numbers nationwide, there's been an uptick in the heated debate around schools reopening. I won't repeat any of it here, but if you're interested in my take on it, you should follow me on Twitter, where I'm trying my best to keep it positive and respectful. Locally, we were recently asked to fill out a form confirming whether or not we'd send our kids back to school given the chance to return to at least a hybrid model of in-person/remote learning and we indicated that yes, indeed, half or full days will work for us, thank you very much. My kids have been consistently wearing masks, maintaining distance from others, and washing their hands well throughout this pandemic (the latter since way before - first thing we do when we return home from literally anywhere). They've got this. That said, I'm not holding my breath for a return to campus anytime soon, especially for the middle schooler.

In other (related) news, on the heels of requesting a mental health services referral for my increasingly glum 8 year old, we celebrated her birthday virtually with friends (llama paint-by-number kits provided by my high school friend Amanda's company Wehgo), which seemed to open the door to conversations around in-person playdates everyone felt comfortable with. We've since established a couple of standing, weekly back yard playdates with a couple of her friends and the difference it's making in her overall mood is simply stunning. 

Evidence of a successful (masked) back yard playdate.

Both kids are also doing a "shelter scouts" program one afternoon a week at the East Bay SPCA. Here's a cute pup they met last week.

The 12 year old, meanwhile, has been a little easier to support in this way, with a couple of friends open to outdoor hikes and hangs for a few months now (not to mention the upside of having a smart phone and playing video games in that he likely feels a bit more connected than his little sister does to her friends). I was reminded of how parenthood warps time when I saw that Homeroom was getting ready to celebrate its 10th (!!) anniversary. Seems like just a couple of years ago I took the then 2 1/2 year old to try it out during opening week.

On a personal note, I too have been struggling with some bouts of mild depression (mild clinically, I'm sure, but worse than I'm personally used to). Though we're fortunate in so many ways, the chronic nature of things is getting really, really hard to deal with. I keep thinking of that section in I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson, and I'm paraphrasing since I read the book on a Nook I no longer have so I can't look up the exact quote, but something about how she didn't feel suicidal exactly, but she had days when she just wanted everything to stop for awhile. I have a lot of days like that lately, mornings when it's really, really hard to get out of bed. To counter this groundhog day quality a bit, in addition to trying my best to eat well and exercise every day (just started my second six-week "journey" using the Freeletics app), I've returned to random national "holidays" for some daily inspiration. It's surreal to think back to some of our early coping strategies during the first couple of months of this pandemic, when national days often served as homeschool inspiration.

Happy National Banana Bread Day!

We also did a major, multiple-weeks long purge of lots of random stuff in our cozy home (some stuff the 12 year old has had in his room since we moved in 10 1/2 years ago!). Getting rid of things lightens the load a bit, both literally and figuratively, it seems.

Enjoying the areas outside the house is also helping me get through what is hopefully the home stretch of this pandemic. Our hummingbird feeder out front continues to be a huge hit (hummingbirds around here don't really migrate away for the winter) and this past weekend we found the perfect spot in the back yard for the wren house that Grandpa Randy built and sent us for Christmas. I can't wait to see who moves in!

Otherwise, with no remote school last Friday, a rather gloomy day in the middle of a long stretch of unseasonably warm weather, I played hooky to take the kids on an epic outing in El Sobrante, about a half-hour north of Oakland. A foggy, muddy hike was followed by take-out pizza enjoyed at a new-to-us playground.

Converting to full-time has been challenging some weeks so far this year, but paid time off is quite the perk.

No comments: