The first few minutes of the day are the hardest.
When I open my eyes and slowly regain consciousness, it takes some time for my mind to adjust and remember our new reality. Even though it’s been almost two months of living this way, it still hits me every single morning as if the restless night’s sleep somehow erased it from my memory.
I lie in bed groggy and tired, the weight of it all feels heavy and hopeless. I roll over and close my eyes, as the flood of emotions pours through me while I’m in this raw and vulnerable state. I’m caught off guard- in a revolving cycle of shock in what is happening in our world and the enormity of it all consumes me. I melt into the depths of despair, but know I can’t allow myself to stay there.
The first few minutes of the day are the hardest. I don’t want to get up and face another day of this confining existence. I’d rather just go back to sleep and hide under these covers, buried away from it all. I can’t think of anything to look forward to right now, and I have no idea when things will change. I’m tired of our daily lives in quarantine. So tired.
I don’t want to cook more meals or clean up after everyone living in this house 24/7. I don’t want to see my kids stuck in this place, forfeiting their once active lives to another day of monotonous schoolwork and boredom. I don’t feel like trying to concentrate on work while being interrupted constantly by my kids’ questions and requests. If only the weather would get warmer and the rain would stop, we could at least get outside for some much-needed fresh air, but I glance out the window and see the rain pelting the glass, forcing us to be captive within these walls once again.
These first few minutes of the day are the hardest. I lie in bed a few more minutes thinking of all the things we should be doing. We should be spending weekends at my son’s soccer tournaments and he should be going on his eighth grade Washington D.C. trip next week, a rite of passage he will never get to experience. These last weeks of school were supposed to be filled with excitement and celebrations for all he has accomplished in middle school while anticipating the high school years ahead. And I wonder if he’ll even get to train for high school soccer or participate in his wrestling camps this summer. I wonder if his first year of high school will be held in the virtual world. I stop myself from thinking too far ahead too soon. There’s enough loss to manage right now.
I think of my daughter, ending her junior year of high school this month, while trying to figure out how she is going to take her required nursing course at the community college next fall if this continues. I think about her summer experiences she’s been planning for years and how none of them will transpire and she will never have these opportunities come again. I wonder what else she will lose that she had hoped to pursue in her senior year and I worry about how this will all impact her future. I just don’t have the heart to tell her we recently canceled our family summer trip. There’s enough loss to manage right now for her, too.
I sit up in my bed and take a deep breath, my eyes closed and my body aching and stiff. The images of people lying in hospital beds, dying alone and the healthcare workers desperate to save them, flood my mind as I remember the post I read from a front-line nurse detailing the horror and anguish of such circumstances. It catapults me back down into the depths of darkness, filling me with sheer heartache for so many lives lost, so many experiencing a pain I can’t begin to imagine. I whisper a desperate prayer for the countless people suffering and feel both relief and guilt for thanking God my family is okay.
I push myself to get out of bed and put on the sweats I threw on the floor last night and meander downstairs for some much-needed coffee. The house is quiet and the silence is both peaceful and sad, as I think about what our mornings used to be like in our pre-pandemic busy lives. Those early morning routines, getting the kids out the door to school are faded memories that seem so long ago. I wonder if or when those rushed mornings will return. But for now, I soak in the stillness before the house fills with the kids raiding the fridge and the dishes clanking and the tv blaring and the messes and madness begins. The coffee helps me find clarity amidst the blurry state of our lives as I recommit to staying strong and positive as best I can for both me and my family.
The first few minutes of the day are the hardest. Once I push myself through the heavy weight of overwhelm and navigate through the assault of those raw exposed feelings, I dig through my arsenal of tools to survive. They slowly come back to me and I grab each one tightly, trying to buoy myself up above those deep dark waters I dare not dive down again.
I cling to the lifeline of hope that someday things will get better. I hold onto every piece of gratitude I can find, as I steer my racing mind toward all the gifts in my life I can celebrate still. It brings me the perspective I need to go forward into another day. It carries me through the long hours and strengthens my resolve to stay positive.
I think about how resilient my kids are and how well they are handling so many hard things. I’m so grateful they are independent and smart and although they have struggled with their online schoolwork, they are pushing through and figuring it out as best they can. I know they are missing so many important experiences they deserve to have and I’m so proud of how well they have accepted the circumstances they are forced to endure.
I think of about how fortunate we are that my husband, being our main provider, still has a job and can work from home, while millions are facing such terrifying financial burdens and unemployment. I whisper a prayer of thanks for the provisions we have, when so many are without.
I look around my home and see all the markings of memories we’ve lived and I cherish each one. Every detail of our lives together, fills this place, full of years of building our family and raising these amazing kids I have the privilege to love.
And although we are all wanting so much more than life can give us right now, I am surrounded by what matters most. These people, with all our different personalities and incredible talents and annoying habits and amazing strengths, well, they are my everything. This truth will never change. And a peaceful assurance swells up within me, as I realize once again, that we have each other.
The first few minutes of the day are the hardest, but then I remember I am given a rare and wonderful opportunity to love my people well. And now more than ever, this is what I’m called to do. And someday, these will be cherished memories too.
This is a contributed post by Christine Carter. She writes at TheMomCafe.com, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith. Her work is published on several various online publications and she is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” and “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World”. Both sold on Amazon.
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