I think about writing all the time these days. But I never actually sit down and do it. It’s become abundantly clear that I can’t commit to posting any of my normal “content” with any regularity anymore and I constantly feel bad about it. I feel like if I can’t even keep up with those easily structured weekly posts, I shouldn’t jump in with anything random or different in the meantime. Which is pretty stupid considering I’m writing this blog mostly for my own enjoyment, so I can do what I want, right?! Right.
I did a quick search to see when I last wrote a monthly recap and it was November, so my inability to stay consistent happened long before the pandemic life set in. I’ve really been struggling a lot since November, trying to figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life. November is when I went to the Hope Writers conference and was re-energized with a deep and longing desire to pursue a writing career, something I gave up midway through college. By the end of December I cancelled my Hope Writers membership because the pressure to write for profit was too overwhelming. There are so many days where I’m just trying to survive (moreso now than ever!), I can’t handle trying to build a platform to launch an eventual writing career when I’m not even sure that’s exactly what I want. But giving up that dream – again – has made me really hesitant to write at all anymore. But I miss it. So here I am again, unpolished and prone to rambling. Ready to reflect on June!
June has kind of sucked, to be honest. It’s probably my least favorite month. Summer begins and long days of challenging parenting stretch out before me. Allergy season is at its worst and going outside makes me miserable. I’m usually mourning the loss of my beloved routine, but trying to make the most of a new routine so I don’t just sit around wishing the summer away. This year, though. Oh, this year. We’ve already been home all together, Greg included, for three and a half months. We have no idea what will happen with school in fall and we have no idea when Greg will go back to the office. So there is REALLY no end in sight and I’m struggling with it A LOT right now. I’m not finding many reasons to be optimistic and hopeful anymore. This is just my life now, indefinitely. And some days I really, really don’t like it.
It was actually a relief to finish out the school year after three months of trying to make this cobbled together online curriculum a success. There was a lot of sadness around the end as well. It was Shepard’s last year at his charter school and he missed out on so many amazing opportunities that were saved up for the final months. It was Caden’s last year in his school (technically he’s not leaving the building next year, but still) too. He loved his teachers so much. They both had such great friendships that really fizzled out after the first month of being home and trying to stay in contact via messenger. Like kids all over the world, they were robbed of some great memories in those final months of school and it was hard for me to just let those things go. I’m so sad for them and all they missed out on and all they’re continuing to miss out on now.
We were signed up for summer school before everything shut down and much to the boys’ annoyance, we kept them signed up even when we found out classes would still be held virtually. I thought it would be a good distraction for them and it would give me a little more time to do my own thing without constantly needing to entertain them. Oh, how wrong I was. That first week was SO stressful. They had all these big craft projects that required hours of work and me needing to keep digging through all my random boxes of supplies to build these projects together. And don’t get me wrong, it was actually really fun to do something creative with both of them, the three of us working together. But it was overwhelming to me how much time it took up – and that was just for one of their classes! There were also a few mix ups on which classes they were actually in. Eventually I sorted it all out and we dropped Caden out of two classes and Shepard out of one and now they’re both just in two classes and it’s all much more manageable. But this past week? I don’t have a clue what they did each day. If they needed help, they went to Greg. Or they just didn’t do the lessons, I don’t even know. There’s only one week left, so we will get through it.
I also signed the boys up for free breakfasts and lunches from school for seven weeks this summer. After countless arguments, mostly with Caden, about food in the last few months I thought it would be such a relief to get those extra meals (or at least snacks!) coming in that I wouldn’t have to think about or cook. What I wasn’t prepared for were the daily arguments about who is going to actually go to school to get the food. Shepard insists on knowing what’s on the menu before he’ll go, even though we’re getting the food no matter what it is. And pretty much every day he starts whining that “it’s so disgusting!” and refuses to go get it. The same meals that he was eating every single day when school was in session (or at least paying for…) he refuses to eat now. I’m eating most of their school lunches because I hate to let the food go to waste. Caden’s pretty good about eating whatever it is, but it’s not nearly enough to fill up him, so I still have to make him food anyway. The real challenge is trying to figure out what to do with four cartons of milk every day when none of us drink milk. I HATE wasting it, but I’m throwing most of it away because we just don’t have the fridge room to spare for something we don’t even want. Anyway, I realize I sound incredibly ungrateful for this free food – but I’m not. I just didn’t know it was going to cause more problems than it solved. And that’s on my kids.
One bright spot in June was having the opportunity to hang out with our nephew/cousin Hudson for a couple of days. It did cause some strife between Greg and I because we had to basically give up all the social distancing rules we’ve been trying so hard to enforce because two year olds don’t know how to keep germs to themselves. I thought the risk was worth it, but we did have to do a lot of reevaluating that week. Some days it seems like that’s all we’re doing. The world opened back up in the middle of May, but it’s only getting more dangerous out there. Weighing the risks and benefits of every single decision we make has really been stressful. We’ve just kind of had to come to terms with the fact that we’re still going to be as safe as we can be, but we have to open back up to the world a little bit at a time and respect each other’s choices. We’ve seen family more often and in closer proximity. I’ve shopped inside of a couple of stores for the first time since early March. Greg went to his great uncle’s funeral. The guys went to the pool for the first time this weekend. We have no plans to go to any large gatherings or events, probably for the rest of this year. We’re wearing masks when we go into buildings. We’re still just seeing family in outdoor settings. But we’re trying not to feel so completely confined to our home the way that we were March through May. I couldn’t take it anymore.
Oddly enough, I’ve actually been super productive with doll making this month. Around the end of May I was so stressed out trying to keep up production while also balancing all my family’s needs that I decided to take an indefinite break away from it. But it took me about two days to realize that I can’t walk away from my business. I NEED it. I just needed it in a more flexible way. In stepping back for about a week I figured out a new system that has been working crazy well for me. I only make three dolls at a time and I’m under no pressure to photograph and list those dolls until I have enough saved up that it feels worth my time to do all those listing steps. I love this new system because I’m seeing constant results, finishing three new dolls every 1-2 days. It also gives me more freedom because I’m kind of obsessed with making batches of similarly themed dolls and feeling like I have to list those dolls all together for the greatest impact. But now I’m finally free to make all these totally random themed dolls I always think I’m going to make but never actually have time for because they don’t fit into my larger picture. Now there is no larger picture! I also don’t have that stressful time crunch to finish dolls by the perfect time of day for photographing so I can list them immediately. Honestly, all these little changes have worked together to create the perfect production style for me. And I’m kind of addicted to it. I’m sewing all the time. I’m having so much fun with it. I’m being creative and reveling in doing something I feel so GOOD at, when everything else in my life seems to be falling apart. Granted, I could probably still step back a little bit and work on putting those other pieces back together. But…it’s hard to do that too. I like to be good at things. I like to have something that’s just for me. And I like a good distraction. Continuing to crank out these dolls every day has been awesome for me. Also – I don’t call it “work” anymore. I think I needed to call it that for a long time to try and justify why I gave it so much of my time, and why I was still staying home even though my kids were in school all day. But I realized I don’t need to justify myself to anyone anymore. This is just something I do because I love it. Yeah, it brings me in some extra money. But it’s a choice and an outlet and it brings me a lot of joy.
This is pretty new, but I also started biking this month. Thanks to my CBD oil, my plantar fasciitis actually seems to be doing a lot better, but I still can’t push it too hard on the walking or I relapse. But I need to do something active to counteract all the sitting I’m doing every day. Biking just might be my thing. It’s good exercise, but also fun! And I go alone so I can do it at my own pace. I have a love hate relationship with my beach cruiser bicycle, but I’m trying to see how reliably I can commit to this exercise before I seriously consider buying a different style of bike. I’ve only been biking every day this past week, but it’s been a highlight of my days.
Overall, June has been pretty rough. I feel like all four of us have been unraveling. We rarely have good days on the same days, which really sucks. It’s hard to imagine continuing to live like this for much longer. I miss time alone SO MUCH. I miss quiet rooms. I miss cleaning and having a space actually stay clean for more than five minutes. I miss shopping for fun. I miss eating at restaurants and going on dates. I miss planning vacations, especially the ones I take alone. I miss looking forward to fun events because there’s not anything to look forward to anymore. I miss seeing my friends and actually feeling connected to people face to face. I miss seeing my kids have fun with their friends instead of running away from the neighborhood kids in fear because of how hard we pushed the social distancing rules back in March. I also miss feeling like Greg and I are participating equally in our parenting roles. You’d think it could be more equal when we’re all at home all the time, but it hasn’t been the case. The boundaries have become even more blurred this month as the boys are constantly interrupting Greg while he works to deal with their technology problems. He’s helping them all day long and then he spends all night playing with them or watching tv with them. I cook for them. I clean up after them. But I rarely feel connected to them because they always just want him. He’s buried under the weight of their constant expectations and I’m left feeling like the outsider and relegated to the role of chef and house cleaner with no real connection to anyone. I feel like a failure ALL. THE. TIME. It’s been hard. I’m still searching for bright spots, but it’s becoming more and more challenging to reach those silver linings. Hopefully July will be better.