I love roller coasters, I really do. I didn’t always, and there is still the “OMG what am I getting myself into,” panic when I get on a new one for the first time. I can remember some of the first ones I rode – the slow crank up to the first drop – clank clank clank, you fall – holy $%&# what is happening – you scream – it’s fun and scary all at the same time, then its NOT fun as you are wound and tossed around by the ride, you go through a loop or some kind of turn with ridiculous G’s and you want to puke, and then its fun again as you fly over a hill, and then you find yourself crying wanting to know when it will be over, begging someone to stop the ride… and then, THANK GOD, the ride stops and you pull into the station to get off, legs shaking, full of adrenaline, wondering if you will ever do it again.
Coronavirus, COVID19, what ever you want to call it, hearkens me back to one of those first roller coasters for me. An emotional one. It’s the COVID19 Emotional Roller Coaster. BUT we STILL HAVE NOT PULLED INTO THE STATION.
Mid-March here in Texas, which was during my daughter’s spring break, we were told that she would be having an “extended” spring break (which I laugh at now) – clank clank goes the roller coaster up the hill. The first day after what was Ella’s spring break, I was informed they were closing the doors of the large gym I worked at.. it trickled in from there. All the studios at which I work or sub at were closing, we were not essential and close-contact businesses – clank clank clank. It felt like EVERYTHING was closing after that and then we were ordered to shelter-in-place – clank clank clank clank. What the literal “heck” was going on here? And off the drop we go! My world and my daughter’s world ceased to end as we knew it. I would be receiving instructions mid-week as to how to continue my child’s education through this time, a time duration which has not been defined as of yet. No idea when the studios would be reopening or if they could make it through this. Dropping faster and faster here.
I can still get online grocery deliveries though and I have always wanted to try online teaching – a smile breaks the face – maybe this ride isn’t so bad, and my daughter is like, “woohoo no school!” Ok, we can handle this. Then comes the NINE PAGE SPREADSHEET of work that needs to be turned in by Monday. NINE PAGES of links and commands and logins and assignments and videos to watch. My stomach drops and I don’t like this ride anymore. Studios and people are asking for online classes – what format are we going to use, whats the best way to deliver, what if they are paying members, are they still going to pay for videos? Do we offer online free? Donation based? What about kids yoga videos, maybe a whole library of them? I am being whipped around by this ride and the G’s are making my stomach sink. How am I going to make videos AND homeschool? We convert the front living room to a studio, move and clear out the furniture, I buy a tripod, we got this. Ella and I make a couple videos… we can totally do this as we come up and over the hill. I am streaming and taking yoga classes from across the country, people I have always wanted to practice with – ok, changed my mind, this is fun! I’m learning so much about creating and posting videos.
Then reality sets in, oh look here comes a loop, more spreadsheets with more assignments, writing and reading assignments, and your daughter is dyslexic and all those accommodations she had a school, well mama, you are it. I am lost, disoriented, upside down, fighting constantly, and feeling awful as my daughter tells me, “I have no idea what its like to have dyslexia.” I want to throw up, this loop is not fun. In one of my last trips to the grocery store for a while, I run into my daughter’s dyslexia coordinator – ok I accost her from six feet away – HELP ME. She calms me down and tells me that she will be meeting with all her students online, Ella included, starting the next week and I can have Ella dictate her work to me to copy. Sigh, we are out of the loop.
The rest of ride for a while looks like filming yoga classes at home is NOT going to work. Homeschooling is going to take most of my time because of extra help and need. Ella has at least five zoom calls a week between counselors and tutoring and class meetings – some of which we miss because holy cow I cannot keep up, I “don’t have anything to do” and yet somehow all the emails and links and reminders get buried. What time is not spent at the desk or computer or entertaining Ella is spent cooking and cleaning and taking care of the house that we are suddenly in all the time. But Ella and I figured out how to use the dictation/talk to type feature in Google docs (I HIGHLY recommend this for kids with learning differences). We got the pool heater fixed so we can swim in the hot tub. Tiktok is hilarious and yes, I’m over 40 and I’m on it (we even watch the videos as a family – yes I just admitted that too). I even feel so good one day I have a juice cleanse delivered – this is going to be “a great time to take care of myself,” I said! My stomach has never felt better as I realize I may have been eating out more than I thought. Ups and downs and all around as we wind through the coaster – some good, some bad.
Luckily for us, my husband manages construction and is considered essential. So, most mornings he heads to the office to work and enjoy the peace and quiet as most of the employees choose to office at home (we have decided by the way it’s the employees that don’t have children, LOL) and our home is not, to say the least. He is even still traveling (by car) for work to various job sites in the state. While many people are having to take pay cuts or have lost their job, we haven’t seen any change in income – even the two main studios I work for are still paying me, one of which I travel to once a week to film classes. When I hit those lows in the ride and feel like I wanna puke, I try to talk myself out of it, its not that bad, at least I’m not sitting at the front of the ride. I start to compare myself to others on the ride, not owning up to the fact that this feels like crap and I don’t want to be here anymore – I DON’T WANT TO BE ON THIS RIDE ANYMORE, because I didn’t have it as bad as someone else. I learned while listening to Brene Brown, this is called comparative suffering and I was doing it hard core. But the fact of the matter is, I do have every right to be upset, to want to get off the ride as much as the person next to me regardless of situation.
So we continue on with the COVID19 roller coaster, the problem is, I don’t seem to see where it is that we are going to get off? Is there a station or even a platform? Is it even the same station we got on or is it one of those rides where you get off in a different place? What about my stuff, my life, that I left at the other platform? Will I ever want to take another ride again? Will there be another ride? Will it be better next time? Am I going to have PTSD? WHAT AM I GOING TO DO AFTER THIS RIDE IS OVER?
The ride keeps lingering on and my body and my mind are getting weary. I’m exhausted. The people on the ride with me are exhausted. We are ALL exhausted and weary and battered and bruised from the ups and downs, wondering how much more of this we can take. I keep hearing rumors from other passengers that the end is just up ahead but is it too soon? Too late?
We are told all the rules of this roller coaster and how we “should” be making the best of it – keep your arms up (learn a new language or read a new book), close your eyes (why aren’t you improving yourself?), hold on to the bar (you should set a schedule). But the fact of the matter is, this is the inaugural ride of this roller coaster. NO ONE has ridden this one before. So however you want to ride it – you do YOU. There is no right or wrong. <– THAT, THAT is something I have learned about this ride.
I love it one minute – to be home, to see my daughter work, to livestream so many classes, to have time with my family, to work around the house and yard, to cook new recipes, to read and learn, new crafts, and the home office is almost done, and hate it the next – no time or space to myself, no end in sight, homeschooling is not for me or my child, I want to walk around the mall and window shop, I miss my classes, my family, and my students, my daughter misses her friends and her cousins and grandparents.
So, my fellow passengers, I want you to know that we are in this ride together, for better or worse – some of you are riding at the front, some in the back, and the rest of us in the middle. You may love it or hate it, or love it one minute and hate it the next like I do, and I am for it, regardless. I am with you. I am pretty sure we aren’t going to be getting off this ride on the same platform or station as the one we got on it at, yes its one of those rides. And we can use the tools we are given one day for the “best ride” and we can literally throw it all out the window on the next turn. It’s ok. Don’t worry if you are making the best of this ride or if you are not. Nobody knows what we are supposed to be doing here. So like I said, you do you. You are not alone. You are not alone in your feelings. You have a right to feel what you are feeling regardless of situation. Because I don’t know about you, but I am ready for this ride to be over, I am ready to get off this ride.