I’m a social person. I grew up with an Air Force Daddy, which meant moving around a lot, and that suited me fine. I’ve never met a stranger. Once, while my family and I were on vacation at the beach, we went to the Children’s Museum on a rainy day. I chatted with another Momma, who turned out to be related to a dear friend back home. We still talk. My husband and I enjoyed our honeymoon in Australia, in particular our visit to Ayers Rock. One night, we had dinner near the rock, and I made jokes with another couple at the table. Fourteen years later, they are still dear friends.
You get the idea – I’m an extrovert. But last week, when the schools closed, I did my part to flatten the curve. I cancelled my coffee dates and book clubs, I made my kids’ schedules (eventually), and I prepared to work from home. Well … I’m a writer, so I already worked from home, but I prepared to live at home.
It was a hard week. I’m privileged, and I know it. As I already worked from home, I did not have to make that adjustment, and I’m grateful that I have a comfortable place to stay and relative job security. So I spent a lot of this week helping my kids understand and showing them what the true heroes – medical staff, service industry, food banks – were up to in the face of this crisis. But by the end of the week, the lack of true human interaction was taking its toll.
As I have no intention of heading out unless it’s absolutely necessary (FLATTEN THE CURVE), I had to come up with some solutions to feed that part of me. Here are a few suggestions, from one extrovert to another.
They are not just for work. When we have our heads down in the weeds, developing lesson plans for our kids (or just keeping them from going crazy) and trying to get our own work done, we forget that other mommas are in it, too. On a whim, I messaged two of my friends, and we set up a “coffee date.” For 40 minutes, often with interruption, we video chatted, vented, and made one another laugh. It was a much-needed balm, and a reminder that we aren’t alone in the world.
When my favorite yoga studio closed, I had a moment. I long ago figured out that I’m not the kind of person who can work out at home, alone. I need a community to sweat with me, breathe with me, and push me. But they, along with countless other studios, have been offering live classes and meditations daily. So I’ve dragged my mat outside, while the kids ran around, and followed along. It wasn’t always pretty (check out my mat below), but it was better than nothing. And I wasn’t alone.
Neighborhood Street Waves
Did you know we have neighbors?! In all seriousness, we’ve lived in this house fourteen years, and while we knew some of them, we met a bunch more the other night. We had a street wave. Everyone grabbed a drink of choice, walked out to the end of their driveway, and chatted. We wandered up the street a bit, but never got very close, and got to spend a little time enjoying the weather and talking to humans. Social distance… heavy on the social.
Indoor Date Nights
Bless my introvert husband, he doesn’t get it. He’s happy as can be over there on the couch, face buried in his screen, doing his thing. I envy it. I like to read and spend time online, but I have to come up for air. And when I do, I need to see people! This week, we are going to spend more time playing cards or board games once the kids are in bed. You know. Like a real couple.
Use Your Words and Go Outside
The bottom line? Most of us are not meant for this type of long-term solitude, particularly with no defined end in sight. It’s going to be hard not to submit to depression and anxiety in the coming weeks. Even IF you are not financially impacted by this (support local businesses), and that’s a big if, we are all going to feel the effects of this pandemic for a long time.
So now more than ever how we communicate, and who we communicate with, is crucial. Reach out to the people you love and trust to talk through the dark moments. Go outside in the sun and play with your little ones. Keep yourself and your family healthy, mentally and physically. Acknowledge who you are and what makes you tick, and find ways to fill the social voids in your life while still maintaining that dreaded social distance.
I still wish I could hug you right now. I still can’t. But when this passes, y’all look out. I’m hugging everyone I see.