How is everyone feeling? Worried? Stressed? Resigned? Frustrated? All of the above? This entire experience affects people so differently. Even members of the same family staying at home together have varied emotional responses at any given hour on any given day. It’s a lot to unpack and most everyone I know is justifiably on edge. There is so much conflict amongst neighbors, within families, between the country as a whole. For every fan of Dr. Fauci, there is someone else who thinks he’s too negative. I’ve heard from a handful of people that they still see neighbors out and about without wearing masks. Some blame the recent protests as being catalysts for spreading the virus, others believe it’s the smaller at-home parties over the holidays that play a larger role in the current spike of cases. It’s hard and exhausting and I know we are all in it together but everyone has a different threshold for maintaining sanity during such uncertain times. I can’t even imagine the pressure that must come from sharing a home with a medical worker or elderly relative. Sometimes listening to the news fills me with anxiety because over and over again we hear how awful it is right now in California. Living under the threat of returning to a phase one lock down is troubling, too. But, despite all that, what gives me a sense of calm (besides an evening cocktail or three) is when I slow down and tell myself I’m doing an OK job. I take solace in the fact that I am doing the best I can. Here’s what I choose to control in an ever changing and chaotic world: I wear a mask when I leave the house and I sanitize my hands and stay six feet apart when I’m with other people. I turn off the news if it’s been a tumultuous day. I try to keep my sellers safe by shooting videos and conducting showings when they are not at home. I try to keep my buyers safe by only letting in one person (or a couple) to see a property at a time. I will often go on listing presentations over Zoom if meeting in person is not ideal. When we have a friend or family over, we stay outside, keep it small and keep our distance.
We were blessed to welcome a new member to our family: the long awaited delivery of our new baby (named Peloton) allowing me the luxury and ability to exercise at home. When it comes to avoiding the coronavirus, I remain vigilant and can feel pretty good about my efforts. However, that’s where the self congratulations end. I feel like a terrible parent when I add up all the hours my ten year old spends playing video games. Every rule we once had pertaining to electronic devices went squarely out the window once the quarantine hit. I have this vision of other parents signing their children up for amazing on-line camps, classes and lectures and we are doing none of that. I imagine there are some kids who are spending their summer busily finding the cure for Covid-19. Ours are not. These should be social, sunshine-filled days spent with friends at the mall, beach, or restaurants – possibly Ubering around town to parties, spontaneous sleepovers or weekends away. There should be those summer camp smiles that appear after hitting the bulls-eye in archery, riding a horse for the first time or mastering jet skiing. Instead of all that childhood joy, our boys are sleeping until about noon, spending way too much time with their parents and probably plotting out ways to start college a few years early just to get some much needed space.
I feel guilty about not being a makeshift camp-counselor for them this summer, like I’m depriving them of a necessary childhood rite-of-passage because of a pandemic I have little to no control over. I find myself getting swept up in this ‘perfect parent’ myth and count all the ways I’m currently failing them and worry about the social/emotional damage being done, evidence of which we may not see for decades. But then I try to take a deep breath and basically tell myself to stop freaking out. If, at the end of the day,my children missed out on a party or two and were on their phones way too much but stayed healthy this summer – that’s really all that matters. I’m no therapist but please let me give everyone reading this permission to relax the rules when it comes to raising children this year. I swear, it’s liberating. They may be missing somethings (a lot of things) and their formal education may have taken a dive, but what they lack in structured, organized activities perhaps they’ll make up for in resilience, creativity and the gift of time to do absolutely nothing. Embrace and allow yourself to become the parent you once might have silently judged with superiority or disdain. In other words, the next time you find yourself allowing them too much of what you once deemed unacceptable…whether it’s another TV show, another dessert or their eyes glued to a screen for way too long, just ask yourself: why the heck not? Think of it as celebrating another day of safety. Because, with so much out of our control, all we can do is try and get by and maybe for once in our over-scheduled, Westside hyper-parenting trap lives, that’s good enough.
Life right now is hard enough and I can attest that giving in a bit to them is like a perfect, priceless gift you are actually giving to yourself. It’s a well earned moment of not hearing them whine or complain about something. You deserve it! So, whether you are old, young, an essential worker or just a local realtor trying to keep a roof overhead, this is not the time to judge one another too harshly. We all deserve a much needed break. At the end of the day, staying safe is the destination. If the journey getting there is paved with a few extra treats along the way (for parents as well as kids) well maybe that’s not such a terrible thing after all. So, cocktail time and a Peloton mountain road it is! Cheers to you for doing the best you can, neighbors. Hope you are staying safe and well.