After all the news of shut downs and closures finally starting to happen, I now realize we’re going to be here for much longer than any of us anticipated. If you and I thought two weeks was long, try eight. Or three months. Or however long this thing will last.
Since we’ve already been self-quarantined for going on three weeks ourselves, I’m accepting it: Life will forever be changed and there is nothing we can do to get back to the way it once was.
As a society, the majority of people living and working in the US have lived the last 10-15 years doing way too much. Everyone is hustling. Moving up. Getting ahead. Trying to catch a break. Therefore we’re overworked and still don’t feel like we’re enough. We’ve learned to multitask ourselves into the ground and become so multifaceted, there isn’t enough time for rest or sleep. We’re always on. Always available. Always exhausted. And we have evolved to be extra time sensitive. There isn’t enough of us to go around, to get it all done. And so it’s hustle hustle hustle. You’d better do it well, and do it quickly. We’ve been persevering like sharks in a tight tank—forever moving forward, circling ourselves, so we don’t drown.
This increasingly intense behavior has taught us over the course of at least a half a lifetime, that going slow is bad. That taking the time to do something, means it’s not worth it. Our patience has dwindled—with ourselves and with each other. And the knee jerk reaction is always to step it up.
As a busy mom of seven, and with a full time career, I know the incessant feeling of not feeling like I’m good at much of anything. There simply isn’t time to zero in or hone my craft. I hate that feeling and I have often dreamed of stepping away from doing things that reinforce this feeling of inadequacy.
Indeed, the thing I think about most is living a slower life. This fantasy includes me doing less, and being able to still make ends meet, with a reduced income. It means reusing and repurposing. It means being more conscious and producing way less waste. If I could flip a switch now, I’d be on farm and in a home with only the things we need and use. The kids pitch in more than they currently do—and we can function like a small company.
Part of me realizes this thinking is unrealistic, head-in-the-clouds, la-la-land-type nonsense, but another part of me recognizes that it’s time to make some of this a reality. In terms of the tragedy currently unfolding before our very eyes, slow living is the answer. It is the way we’ll get through this. Slowing down intentionally will reduce panic and anxiety. And it will take time to adjust and undo all the years spent doing nothing but stepping it up. But it’s worth it, because what’s the alternative? I can’t come up with an answer.
Dialing down the intensity of life could look like this: Doing less, trying to re-center in the present moment, put an emphasis on people you care about and even know when to unplug. The point is to reduce chaos to enjoy life more; take your foot off the gas pedal and try to coast a little bit. To get out of the fast lane. Right now. Instead of freaking out about being cooped up with family you’re realizing you barely know, shift. Do something that previously felt like it barely mattered, and do it together.
Yesterday I woke up and found myself digging through our craft bin. I found some loose origami paper and looked up how to make something simple like swans. I drank my coffee and made swan after swan until it was memorized and everyone else was up. Then they joined me.
We have a bunch of stuff to use that I never got around to tossing after our previous attempts at homeschooling, but even if you don’t have these things, have no fear. Have a pair of scissors and some shoeboxes? Make box robots, or small houses with cardboard furniture. Make finger puppets from an old t-shirt and a needle & thread. Dismantle an old dvd player and repurpose the pieces.
The time is now to use your imagination. Let go of all the other stuff we’ve been programmed to cling to. It simply doesn’t matter anymore and will not be of use moving forward.
Creativity is the new normal. However we rebound, we will forever be changed by this. Emerge with a strengthened sense of self by slowing down.
Stay sane, parents. This too will eventually pass.
xo, So Called Mom