What day is it?
As the days and nights blend together and I switch from day sweatpants to nighttime sweats and back again, I am struck by the concept of time and how it impacts us all. Today is Wednesday and I woke up convinced it was Saturday. How is that possible?
While I struggle to balance my workload, the kids e-learning, cleaning, laundry, entertaining my children, cooking, and so on during this pandemic, in theory my pace has slowed down a lot. No more running around to karate class, baseball, guitar lessons, or religious school, yet time is always moving forward. Before I realize it, it seems to be noon on any given day and time to prepare another meal for my three children who apparently have bottomless pits for stomachs.
Typically, we associate different days of the week with different feelings. Friday excitement and anticipation for the weekend can ultimately lead to Sunday night blues, knowing the week ahead has lots of running around, and potentially limited family time to connect. I still experience these feelings, but to a different degree since leaving my house isn’t an option any longer, and family meals together are definitely more frequent.
I feel like I categorize our world into two time periods now…Pre-Covid and The Present. Pre-Covid was a time when we could freely leave our homes and go wherever we wanted without even having to think twice about it. The Present means challenging ourselves to make food last so we can minimize delivery orders or trips to the grocery store. It means finding creative ways to connect with others while avoiding human contact. It means finding ways to collaborate with colleagues without meeting in board rooms, and it means managing the blurry line between work and family that is happening all in the same environment.
The days keep passing as they always have. I often find myself saying, “Take one day at a time.” I am not suggesting that we completely ignore our feelings, but when we get too ahead of ourselves anticipating the what if’s, predicting when and how we will return and what that means to us all financially, it can lead to a sense of being overwhelmed and can exacerbate any anxiety we already have. It also inevitably speeds up time and wishes away the here and now. However, there are valuable lessons and blessings to be found in the present.
So, while I have felt betrayed by my usual sense of time, my understanding of what it means to be present in the moment has drastically increased. There is no more priding myself on multi-tasking and being a “super-hero Mama.” After all, how effective are we really while attending to multiple situations at once? I am trying to set aside time, so I am able to give my full attention to each child when they need help with their e-learning. Pausing whatever I am doing to make full eye contact and give them the sense they are the only person in my world. Putting down my phone during our family game of Jenga and not refreshing my work emails constantly during breakfast. Going for walks in the fresh air and remembering to breathe. This is how I am passing my time. I may not remember what day it is, but I do know that I am going to face it with open eyes, ears, and an open heart.
– Rachel Schwartz, LCSW, Director of JCC Chicago Early Childhood Social Services