Meredith C. Carroll: This phase, too, shall pass
My family started sheltering in place 341 days ago, but who’s counting because the simple act of one person counting would probably annoy someone else so at this point it’s probably best if we all just stay in our corners and remain calm, but most importantly, quiet.
No, really, we’re fine.
My family is 341 days into this thing and I am happy to report that all of our limbs and senses are intact (save, perhaps, for the sense of humor). We talk often about how it is that we’re doing so relatively well, and one theory is that breaking down the pandemic into phases has made it feel slightly more manageable.
There was the phase at the onset of the COVID-19 panic when, faced with little, confusing, wrong or alarming information, no one left our house, my children watching forlornly as other children played outside. (Just kidding. They glanced at me with mild indifference for exactly 2.4 seconds before turning back to their screens.)
That was also the phase when I’d go to the grocery store just once every two weeks. My family greeted me like a war hero each time I returned home, applauding my bravery, resourcefulness, determination and impressive candy selection. They had too much respect to ask about what I’d seen (although apparently not enough to refrain from complaining when it turned out the pretzel M&M’s were stale).
There was the phase when we doodled at lunchtime with Mo Willems (for two days), followed by a panic-buying arts-and-crafts phase, after which time came the Bob Ross binge-watching phase. From that we went right into the Bob Ross Chia Pet phase, which, if you’ve ever had a Bob Ross Chia Pet, then you know came with its own subcategories of phases.
We watched bakers on TV and then phased into our own baking — first challah, then focaccia, and of course, cake(s). The phase we’re in now involves eating salt and vinegar kettle chips directly from the bag while on the couch (just kidding, I sneak eat them in the shadows to avoid sharing). All phases have coincided with one of extensive diabetes research and self-loathing.
We went through a phase where half of us left home for a month while the other half stayed behind. It wasn’t actually a phase so much as a carefully planned trip, however, calling it a phase serves to break up the monotony of 341 days at home by 30 whole days don’t fight me on this one.
We are still in the phase where we comment on maskless people after they pass us by. I’m 341 days in and you should know I’m 100% still in the phase where I’ll judge you for not wearing a mask all while ignoring your looks of derision when I’m not wearing one, because I wasn’t wearing it just that one time (every time). It’s different with me, you see.
My husband and I went through a phase where we discussed going pescatarian for a week (the discussion lasted a week. the pescetarian phase is still pending). I googled the feasibility of a vegan phase (the results were unanimous: LOL). The current phase is one of bacon appreciation. It is ongoing, and it is delightful.
There was a phase at the beginning of distance learning where I printed out daily customized school-home-life schedules for each of my daughters, complete with coordinated colors, dramatic fonts and a riddle or motivational quote. We went through a phase where we made lists of everything we’d accomplish while sheltering at home. That was followed by a phase where we swore off lists entirely and vowed to live in the moment only (or the reason why I now just eat the salt and vinegar chips in bed).
There was the Zoom cocktail hour phase; the drive-by birthday party phase, the organizing of the freezer and pantry phase; the throwing out phase, the gardening phase, the false hope phase(s); the considering a bidet phase, the reading about the amazing things other people are doing in quarantine phase (see also: the self-loathing phase); and the there’s nothing left to buy for the holidays because what does it even matter phase (see also: the existential despair while watching and reading about the insurrection phase).
We went through one phase where we just knew everybody else was out while we sheltered in place. Following that came a phase where we legally gathered and socially distanced (twice) and spent the entire time figuring that was precisely when the rest of the world knew to stay home.
My daughters went through a phase where they stayed up watching “Dance Moms” all night, every night, which actually turned out to be fine, or at least convenient because they slept through most of my husband and I doom scrolling pandemic news the next day, every day.
There was that phase when all of us had a good day, on the same day. Oh, no, wait. That wasn’t a phase — just that one day. But, yeah, it was as lovely as it sounds.
More at MeredithCarroll.com and on Twitter @MCCarroll.
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