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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.
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.
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.