We’re All in This Together!

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So I haven’t felt particularly stressed, but I woke up this morning and everything hurt. All my muscles were tight and my mind was racing. “I should get a massage,” I thought. And then I realized that’s probably off the table and the only people I would consider let rub my shoulders are about as qualified as Buster Bluth with a hook for a hand. So I took a few deep breaths and gave myself the same talk I’ve been giving friends and family over the last weeks—we’re all in this together.

We are all in this together, hand lettering typography modern poster design, vector illustration

All the things I’m worried about? If they affect me, they’re likely to affect a whole lot of other people, too. It’s really easy in times like these to feel isolated and alone and like we’re the only ones going through something (ESPECIALLY when we’re physically isolated as well.) So. I’m gonna tell y’all what’s stressing me out. Please, if you feel comfortable, leave a comment telling us what’s stressing you out as well—that way, we can see that we’re not all alone.

what I’m stressed about: Trying to keep up with life the way it was before.

Our school district has not assigned any schoolwork (yet), but we’re getting a lot of messages about keeping brains stimulated and websites we can go to and google classrooms we can log into and programs we can sign up for. Imma be honest, if I wanted to figure all this out for three kids, one in elementary, one in middle, and one in high school, I would have home schooled. I’m perfectly happy to delegate when I’m out of my depth and THIS IS OUT OF MY DEPTH. Just the thought of trying to make my high schooler do homework + help my elementary schooler remember his 25 passwords for all the different platforms (IT’S THE SAME ONE, BUDDY) + lure my middle schooler out of her FaceTime lair has my Apple Watch telling me to breathe. And then, while I’m like, “Yay, vacation from church!”, people in this Facebook group I’m in for our church job are like, “I’m doing virtual music time every Sunday!” After a few days of that, I decided to snooze that group until we’re done because if I’m good at anything, it’s tuning out stuff that stresses me out.

How I’m solving it

I’m ignoring what I can. I probably will come up with a plan for my kids to do something with their brains today, but I’d also love for them to do some more creative stuff. I’m not willing to fight with a stubborn, salty teenager about doing geometry if he doesn’t actually have homework for it, so I’ve already assigned him to make a (mostly) one-man video of “Non-Stop” from Hamilton as part of the Ham at Home challenge (you can learn more about it here).

My kids are old enough that they can take a look at the district recommendations and figure out what they think they should do. We’re going to be learning a lot about cooking, cleaning, organizing. One valuable lesson they’ve already learned is not to fight in the car with a pair of metal kitchen tongs and also how to properly clean and dress a wound. We’re off to a great start.

What I’m stressed about: Money

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed about money. I’m not stressed about losing my great fortune in the stock market or that huge vacation to Hawaii that was half paid for because that’s not my situation anymore (not saying those aren’t valid concerns…if anything, it’s better this way because I’ve already done that anxiety 😅). But as an entrepreneur and small business owner and mostly single mama, there are a lot of things I can’t control and that is scary.

How I’m solving it

Wishing, hoping, thinking, praying. I had a big photography job last week and that helps ease a little bit of immediate stress. But honestly, this is the biggest one where we’re all in this together–I am FOR SURE not the only small (or large) business owner stressing about money, and if I go down, a whole boatload of people are also going down, so I guess I feel like it will be less humiliating that way. 🤣 Practically speaking, social distancing makes saving money easier–no extracurriculars to pay for, no eating out, no movies, no mindless trips to Target.

what I’m stressed about: hating my kids

Yesterday was eye-opening. Pretty sure every single one of us cried at one point. There was the aforementioned kitchen tongs fight. There was fighting about who gets to sit where on the couch. There were fights about social media (yes, oldest child, you have to make your Instagram private, I don’t care how many “cool new friends” you’ve made by having it public.) It was a doozy.

(Yes, that is a friend. She’s basically a sister. We’re not socializing with anyone else, she’s not socializing with anyone else, but her mom also has to work during the day and a month is a long time to be completely alone all day.)

How I’m solving it

We learned a lot. We apologized. We loaded into the car and ended up rolling down the windows and blasting music as we sang along and waved at strangers. I learned we’re going to have to balance the amount of time we spend together. It’s okay if people go hang out in their rooms…in fact, it’s essential. We don’t have to spend every second together in structured together time.

what I’m stressed about: the undertoad

One of my favorite books is The World According to Garp by John Irving (it’s VERY adult, so proceed with caution and if you still decide to read it, please don’t write me an email telling me how I’m going to hell BECAUSE I ALREADY KNOW. I HAVE A TICKET.) In this book, Garp, the main character, tells his kids at the beach to be careful of the undertow. One of his kids mishears it as “the undertoad”–he imagines there’s a toad hiding under the surface of the water waiting to pull them under. Their family goes on to use the phrase “undertoad” to refer to the omnipresent threat of disaster that lies beneath the surface of everyday life.

I have this spot on my face that is inflamed and will NOT clear up. It itches. It burns. It breaks out. I made an appointment with my dermatologist a couple of months ago and then she suddenly passed away last month (if you follow Victoria from The Bachelor, she was the nurse in that practice!) So I called another dermatologist and can’t get in until the end of July. Fine, whatever, it’s probably a fungus or something weird. Then I woke up this morning, my heart racing, cold sweat, absolutely CERTAIN that this spot is a skin cancer. And then I start spiraling and I’m like, “I’m never going to get into the dermatologist, it really is skin cancer, by the time I get in, it’s going to have spread and I’m going to die. Children, gather round, I’m dying.”

How I’m solving it

As someone who has struggled with anxiety for most of her life (and who manages it by staying busy), I know that the undertoad is subconscious anxiety. And those anxieties may be justified–goodness knows we have plenty to be anxious about. My skin fears aren’t entirely off base–I’m very fair (“Very fair and very kind.”–The Office.) My dad and two of my sisters have had MAJOR skin cancer stuff on their faces. Up until recently, I have been spotty (at best) about wearing facial sunscreen.

But.

There is literally nothing I can do about it right now. I will keep wearing my sunscreen and wearing hats and taking care of that little patch of skin like it’s my firstborn baby and not like my last-born baby, who was basically raised by our pets. Since we’re all in this together, I will practice social distancing and not take away from lab resources, but maybe when things calm down a little, I’ll see if I can get an appointment sooner. Since there are lots of things out of my control, I’ll work on the things I can control–I can meditate, I can pray, I can cut down on the clutter in our home. If the weather holds, we’re going for a little nature hike today to unplug from our electronics and get some fresh air. Nature and exercise seems to be the undertoad’s antidote.

we’re all in this together

We love you guys! We’re here for you through this! We’re all in this together. And if you can’t read that without singing “We’re All in This Together” from High School Musical, watch this (for the first time or the hundredth) because goodness knows you’re not going anywhere and have all the time in the world.

 

 

19 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing. We’ve slept in the last two days, still waiting for the school to tell us the homework plan. Yesterday it was Fortnite the whole day and I’m fine with that. We’ve binge watched The British Baking Show and stocked up on Cadbury mini eggs. It’s going to be ok. Except for your possible skin cancer…. sorry about that!! 🤞😳

  2. Thank you for this post. I’m so glad I am not alone in having these fears…and that my kids are not the only ones who hurt each other with salad tongs sometimes.

  3. Thank you for this! I’m stressed because my husband’s job is still making them go in to work–they have over 1000 employees who sit in cubicles in a big building, what could possibly go wrong? I’m also stressed about my kids keeping up with their schoolwork. We’ve gotten emails from all of my high schooler’s and middle schooler’s teachers and there are so many that I eventually just stopped opening them. One bright spot is that you guys are posting again! I’ve missed reading new posts these past few years! I totally understand, but I’ve missed it all the same.

  4. “Imma be honest, if I wanted to figure all this out for three kids, one in elementary, one in middle, and one in high school, I would have home schooled.” AMEN!! Except, make it 5 kids in 4 different schools at all 3 school levels; from a senior in 5 AP courses whose ACT just got canceled (last ACT date to count for qualifying for scholarships at UAH- get a job buddy!) down to pre-K!

    LOVE the Dick and Jane life lesson and that you are so real. (Tong injuries?!) Even if I don’t care about the recipe (I’m a picky eater- no chocolate, no cheese, or several other common ingredients…), I still love to read the commentary. Still laughing over your last being raised by pets. Maybe I should get some pets to raise mine… 🙂

    Though I did do singing time with my 3 youngest, b/c I’m the Primary chorister and that way at least someone will know the Easter song they’re supposed to sing if we’re back in Church…

    Take care of your self, and your pets (you know, so they can care for #3) and hang in there!

    1. Oh, people doing their own singing times aren’t stressing me out, haha! But the music leaders who are doing zoom or FaceTime or YouTube videos of singing time…I just can’t right now, haha.

      Glad to hear you’re hanging in there!!❤️❤️

  5. Kate, thank you! I was just telling my family it’s incredible that a global pandemic had brought my anxiety to an all time low, until I got on Facebook and saw all the moms with their spreadsheets and schedules suddenly “homeschooling with the fire of a thousand suns”! 😂 I was like wait what? My kids had been playing outside for 6 hours cause I thought that’s what kids were supposed to do when there was no school 🤷‍♀️. Anyway, I’m trying to ignore it too because like you said, isn’t this the perfect time to be creative and not just try to mimic the suffocating rigidity of normal life? Thanks for sharing your thoughts; you always have such a nice and funny spin on things! I hope your skin issue isn’t too serious and that you can get in sooner than later!

  6. I’m an early morning seminary teacher and our seminary superintendent is hung ho about online sem. But it’s not easy to set up and get kids doing it.. too many texts and emails! I just need space to breathe. If families read and pray I’d say good enough! That’s why I’m not in charge. My youngest who was raised by his brothers and the x box is home. Lastly I’m worried about my missionary. I want him home now please. They can’t do any work anyway…

  7. As someone that has been treated for anxiety for a decade, I thought I was OK. Then headaches, nausea and really tight muscles. Same as you, I was thinking massage but alas all spas closed. My middle schooler already struggles and no school for one month and no online plan yet. I have worked at an ambulatory surgery center for 20 years. We are now closed until…..and no pay. We need my income. I feel sick and powerless….thankful to have a roof and plenty of food.

  8. We’re better off than a lot of people, neither of us has to miss work. We had plenty of food storage in the house. We don’t have any kids to herd. But…they closed my gym at midnight last night. I know that sounds stupid and frivolous, but I have, um, a psychiatric disorder and exercise is a lifeline for me. I know I can still go out for walks and do hand weights in the basement, but the routine of my good, hard workouts every morning is something I just can’t do without. I feel bad being so crushed about this, of all things, but I really don’ t know how to handle it right now.

    Thanks for the venting opportunity. You are my favorite, Kate.

    1. Check out Momstrong workouts. She does great at home workouts, $9.99/month. I was doing her gym plan, but yeah, just switched to the at home. I need to be told what to do for my workouts otherwise I’m wimpy. ❤️

  9. Thanks for sharing. My worries aren’t that much different than anyone else’s. But now I’m worried about your face and hope you can see someone sooner rather than later 🤞🏼🤞🏼

  10. Oy, oy, oy, where to start?

    I’m worried because my mom’s an RN in a major local hospital and at higher risk of exposure. I’m worried because my dad has three risk factors for vulnerability (60+, history of respiratory illness, underlying health disorder). Not to mention elderly/vulnerable aunts/uncles/neighbors/siblings/cousins. I’m worried about my job closing down and losing my income and not being able to maintain my health insurance. I’m taking a class at the local college, which has switched to online–will that be a mess? I’ve applied to nursing school and am supposed to find out if I’m accepted in 2 weeks–will that be delayed? Deep breaths…

    2 Timothy 1:7 is my mantra, y’all. I repeat it to myself at least a dozen times a day– “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Repeat as needed until heartrate lowers…

    Thank you for this forum to say this “out loud”. <3

  11. AAAAND to top it all off, we had a 5.7 earthquake at 7:00 this morning. I was standing in the kitchen and it scared the daylights out of me. A tea pot fell off the baker’s rack and smashed, but nothing else. Of all the weirdy macweirdo things to happen right now…

  12. I laughed out loud several times while reading this (and I’ve wanted to cry all day because homeschooling kids sucks). I’m glad my youngest aren’t the only ones being raised by pets. When it’s time for them to read at night, I call my dog and tell my girls (twins) to take turns reading out loud to him. (Among many other things that my dog does for my kids by just sitting.) Sometimes when life is so stressful all we can do is laugh! Thanks for being so funny.

  13. Kate, your post and all the comments have me crying, laughing, worried and hopeful all at the same time. My biggest worry has been that I haven’t done enough to prepare my family for disasters, particularly earthquakes, because I live on a major fault line and I’ve been deathly afraid of them since I was 8 years old and “the big one” was predicted to happen on my birthday (duh. I know 🙄). I had the next 2 weeks slated for disaster prep, stock 72hr kits, finally get the drop ladders for my kids bedrooms windows 25ft off the ground, etc. Then the earthquake this morning. It wasn’t big, but it put the fear of ByGolly in me. Truth, I’m trying to remember to just get through this day, the next hour, or however small I need to make that interval to keep my head up. And thank you, Kim, for the mantra!

  14. Thanks for sharing and putting humor into what so many of us are feeling! My anxieties are very similar – my husband is a dentist so our small business is closed except for emergencies (we found out our employees can apply for standby unemployment which may help others in a similar situation). I have kids at home and haven’t been here as I am trying to help my husband navigate keeping our business afloat with no income (for 3 weeks or 3-6 months). I completed treatment for cancer just a few months ago so probably am at a higher risk for getting the virus. But we’re going to take it one day at a time with deep breaths and some crying and laughing. Kate, you may want to see if the dermatologist does any telehealth or would look at a picture and bump you up if they felt it was serious.

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