I casually look at the calendar one morning and I am taken aback we are in August already. August spells back to school, Fall, cooler weather, and festival season. In any other year, this would have been when I am scouring back to school lists, actively networking to find which kids are in my children’s homeroom, and making to-do lists of things to buy. Clothes, shoes, bags, lunch totes. I love these beginning of year rituals more than the children do.
This year though, I am anxious. I like to tell myself I have made peace with whatever the universe is throwing at us. In reality, I am awake in the dead of the night wondering how I am going to shoulder the responsibility of three kids at home all year long. The idea of working, managing home, managing the online school schedules of three children, and continuing to nurture my fledging publishing success is daunting.
I post on message boards on FB looking for in-person tutoring help. I jump up and call dibs when a local parent arranges for a school pod of sorts nearby. Everything is in flux. Just when I think I have a grasp on the situation and everything seems to fall in place, I get a message saying the tutor who was to come in for an in-person interview has found a new position or that the pod I am interested in is full.
Anxiety shows up in many forms. I grind my teeth at night. My jaw muscles are tight. I am jumpy and irritable. I sleep every chance I get. I am unable to read or write for pleasure. I have lists upon lists. On my computer, on my whiteboard, in my head. None of them have checkmarks indicating done yet.
I began the year with plenty of hope. 2020 to me has been a good year despite everything. I want to be optimistic about the news of the Oxford trials and a vaccine by 2021. I want to believe this will be a blip in my memory, a wake-up call from Mother Nature not to mess with her. I want to believe people in power will wake up to Science. Yet, there is a sinking feeling that we have not seen all that this year has had to offer yet. I dread the political turmoil that is bound to happen post-October. I am afraid of what December will hold. I am truly fearful of people not buying into the vaccine if/when it is available. I am worried about impacts on the economy, our jobs, our children’s, and by extension our mental health. I am scared that this will be our new normal.
I walk every day because the weather is nice and I enjoy the reprieve from chores and everything at home. I schedule doctor appointments and annual well checks because I want to believe traditions root us and serve as anchors in choppy waters. I want my children back in school and playing outside. I want sleepovers and get-togethers without worrying about exposure. I want to talk to my sister about things other than COVID and anxiety and gloom and doom. I do not want to be making plans to set up a school like classroom at home. I want these things but I am also aware enough to know that these have to be distant dreams for now.
I hope I can end the year on a hopeful note. I truly do.