Thirty minute increments at most. That’s what I choose to bite off these days. I cannot take more than that.
On Saturday, March 28th, we celebrated Mack’s 13th birthday. March 27th was supposed to be a 7th and 8th graders banquet, and Mack was really looking forward to it. He got a new outfit. New shoes. And he thought the timing was perfect. Fun Friday night with friends, eating and dancing and karaoking and then waking up the next morning as a teenager.
Of course, that isn’t at all what happened. We finished up our 16th day of quarantining on his birthday. But he woke up to a fun sign in the yard so all the neighbors out and about would see that it was his birthday. He got all sorts of honks and hollers from passerbyers wishing him a Happy Birthday. That was different and fun. We went for a family walk and bikeride in the neighborhood.
We cooked ribs, peas, dressing, and mashed potatoes for lunch and enjoyed a homemade cake with “1” and “3” candles that instacart shopper picked out for him. We had lunch with our youth leader that came by with a cake for Mack! They shot some hoops. And then we all got freshened up for some photos. I wanted to get pictures of Mack in his new outfit before he outgrew it while we sat at home under quarantine. I could have held off for Easter, but that ain’t happening. I mean, Easter is happening. Just not the whole dress up and go to church part. So, I got some great photos of my big 13 year old son. He seemed to have a great day and enjoyed being together and hanging out as a family. I am glad he felt special on his birthday.
But I had to take the day in thirty minute increments to make it through. And that has been my mode of operandi the past few days. When the mayor told everyone to stay put til the 16th, I was expecting it. Then, a couple of days later the governor told the whole state to stay put until the 30th. Y’all. It’s too much. Maybe if I had been someone who didn’t take the President’s warning and encouragment to stay home way back on March 13th seriously and had actually taken note of the world and decided to stay home, then it may not have been so bad. Thirty days versus 45 is a big difference and who is to say they’re done with the extending of stay at home dates? So the thought of staying home for thirty days straight is too much. Thirty minutes, I can handle. Just make it through thirty minutes. What is right in front of me to do? Is it switch the laundry? Ok, I will do that. Is it make the bed and get dressed for a workout? Ok, that’s what I will do. Is it text a friend and then read my Bible? Ok, for the next thirty minutes, let’s do that. Or maybe it’s sit and help Mack get organized for his school day and make sure he has all he needs. I can do that in these next thirty minutes. Beyond thirty minutes, I can feel my chest tightening and my back carrying the tension of “How much longer?” I know some people are organizing every nook and cranny of their home. Good for them if that’s what helps them cope. I, on the other hand, am completely unmotivated by these projects thus far. I am doing good to keep everyone fed, clothes washed, and oversee the school work. All in thirty minute increments.
So maybe this, too, will help you get through the days ahead. You don’t always have to have a five year plan or even a thirty day plan (and let’s be honest, who is acutely aware that even the best laid plans can be interrupted?!?!???!!!). Give yourself a break. Make what you can of the next thirty minutes. These increments will make up your day. You can do it.
Addendum: I do glance quickly ahead thirty, sixty days and imagine this all over and behind us. Whether it is in two months or six months, I don’t know. But God does know and sees all things. I want to be able to look back and see my faith more mature, my relationships stronger, my perspectives clearer. There will be an end to this particular suffering. I want to be better then, but in order to be better THEN, I must figure out how to live NOW, under these hard circumstances.
Mack’s fun birthday photos: