On a typical weekday before the COVID-19 pandemic, my son Carlos would ride the school bus to Kindergarten, and my husband Ricardo would leave to go work for Google. Our au pair Paula might sleep in or might leave to go have coffee with friends. On most days, there would be some time in the morning when I had the house to myself. I relished the quiet and the solitude. I loved drinking coffee and having time to myself to do house chores and get caught up on email. That time helped keep me grounded in the afternoon and evening, when Carlos and Ricardo returned and there was a whirlwind of activity.
Now that Carlos is home from school and Ricardo is working from home, we are all together in the house all day. My work, Ricardo’s work, Carlos’ school and all of our family interactions overlap and blend together throughout the day. As I write this article, I can hear Carlos making noises and running in the basement, and hear Paula and Ricardo talking to Carlos’ physical therapist on the computer. There are many things I appreciate about our new normal. I love getting to see Ricardo more often and have lunch with him every day. Carlos always brings joy and playfulness into our lives. Paula is one of the most cheerful people I have ever met and it is fun to talk to her more every day. Coming together to deal with COVID-19 has brought us closer together. I feel a new sense of coziness and comfort in our home. At a time when things in the world feel overwhelming, I appreciate the warmth of our home, wrapped around me like a soft sweater.
At the same time, I miss my alone time. I recently decided to set my alarm for 5:30AM in order to get a little time to myself in the morning. I am naturally an early riser, so this felt doable to me. In this time of COVID-19, we need to figure out new strategies for self-care when our old strategies don’t work anymore. This felt like a good adaptation. Now on some mornings, I wake when it is quiet in the house and everyone else is sleeping. It is still dark outside. I start the coffee, and then sit down with a blanket and have my morning meditation and prayer practice. This ritual offers me a sense of peace and calm. Although I still experience stress throughout the day, I feel I am better able to stay grounded in the midst of the chaos.
Some of us are struggling with not having enough time and space to ourselves. At the same time, many are struggling with feelings of loneliness and isolation. This pandemic is impacting everyone in different ways, and it is hard for all of us. For those of you who miss human contact and human connection, I hope you are able to find new and creative ways to find those connections even as we stay physically apart. For those of you struggling with not having enough time to yourself, I hope you are able to find ways for some calm and quiet in your day. For all of us, I hope you feel the loving connections of this congregation. Our compassion reaches out where our arms cannot go. May you feel held in this love and care.