Covid19 Check In Part 5


I have been pregnant, given birth and breastfed.  I have changed diapers and potty trained children.  I have cleaned up bodily fluids and stayed up late with scared children.  I have installed multiple carseats, and I have sat in the parked car for an hour while the baby naps in the carseat.  These are all things that moms do.

But nothing- NOTHING- has made me feel more like a mom than standing in the PetSmart check out line holding a plastic bag of live crickets.

Did you know that I drive myself to PetSmart every other week to buy 60 crickets?  I do.  Even during Covid19.  I put on a mask and wear gloves and buy $7 worth of crickets.

I think that when I pictured being a mom, I pictured the pregnancy and diapers and carseats.  I heard stories about being vomited on, or sitting in the driveway so the baby could keep napping.  I heard about fevers and potty training.  I felt prepared for that.

But the crickets- I wasn’t ready for that.  That’s what really reminds me that I am a mother.  Who else would do something so nonsensical, but a parent?  How is this my life?  Buy live crickets…to put in the cricket keeper habitat…so my son can feed his geckos…that he sometimes loses in the house…and don’t forget the cricket food, because they have to eat too… repeat repeat repeat.

Also this week I sniffed a freshwater snail to see if it smelled like rotten eggs (that’s how you know it’s dead!) and that also counts.

Happy Mother’s Day, all.


Covid19 Check In Part 4

A few weeks ago we met (online) with a counselor we have utilized for the past few years, off and on.  One of our kids was having a particularly rough time and an outside set of eyes and ears seemed helpful.


it’s hard to take a picture where he’s not a shapeless blob.  contrast and stillness helps.

She suggested (among other things) an exercise with our kids.  Three buckets- What We Lost, What We Have, What We Gained.  We did that together as a family that weekend.

Here’s a sampling:

What We Lost– trips, time with other people, hugging my friends, school, teachers, feeling okay about everybody’s health, seeing cousins

What We Have- each other, soccer goals, a swing outside, basketball hoop, mom’s phone (for texting friends), ice cream, hospitals, books, food

What We Gained- more time outdoors, chrome books (*), more time with the puppy, google hangouts, more baking, more time with each other

*Last week I told my boys that I would happily put the school-issued chrome books under the tire of my van and run over them.  So it really depends on who you ask, as to whether these are a gain or a loss.  TBD.


something i lost: cute preschool crafts, that i will probably never do with my kids at home

One thing that has felt really sad lately is that I won’t get to take my youngest to preschool anymore.  That’s Something I Lost.  On school mornings, we would get the boys off to Venable- either walking them there or letting them walk themselves.  Then a little pause before hustling my oldest to Walker, then driving straight on to the church/my work/my youngest’s preschool after that.  (It’s a one-stop shop.)

On my workdays, I would bring her to my office and let her watch a video on my phone or color while I pulled out files and got ready for my day.  She would turn the lights on and the sound machine outside of my door.  She liked to say hi to Jason, who was usually already in his office when we got there.  Once he gave her some rocks, which she still has in a rock collection in her room.  He started her rock collection. Sometimes we would go by Lane’s office to slide a picture under her door.

To get to the preschool we walked through the church sanctuary.  It was usually dark and she liked to sing or say “hecko” loudly when she walked through.


between two ferns poinsettias

Downstairs there were double doors and we were often the first or second family through there.  Say hello to Miss Keri, say hello to Miss Laurie…  Extra excitement for Lunch Bunch and special time with Miss Laurie after school, so I could work a few more hours.  She was always happy to go to school.  She loved her class, loved her teachers, and loved her buddies.

Three out of the four kids won’t return to their schools next year- they’ll move up to the next school.  No more walks with both boys to Venable.  And no more driving my daughter to Walker.  No more walking my daughter from my office, down to her preschool.

There’s a lot to be said for counting your blessings and being grateful and so on and so forth.  But there’s also something so important about naming what is gone.  Don’t leapfrog that to just land on the silver lining.  Go ahead and name it all.

We did that exercise when the coronavirus was still newish.  We were social distancing, but had not bought face masks yet.  Schools were closed for the year, but I had not considered that they wouldn’t open again in the fall.  Google hangouts were still new and exciting.  Zoom was still cool, how it highlights the person talking.  Do I want the grid view or just the speaker view?


phase two: when UVA started coming on strong about social distancing

Safe to say the thrill has worn off many of these things now.  I feel the shock of seeing other people at the grocery store in masks, and I feel the shock when I see someone without one.  I hope we can safely see people in person again soon, but know we probably won’t without a cost.

What are your losses, haves, and gains?   I’d love to hear.




Covid19 Check In Part 3

Or, alternate title, Sometimes This Helps and Sometimes That Helps.

*I actually wrote this a week and a half ago, as I was circling the drain.  But here you go.*

This morning was rough.  I woke up feeling down, with a whole day stretching in front of me.  A whole day to feel mildly depressed; meaning unmotivated and apathetic.  Flat.  And all of the days pile up after this one.


Some days like these- because they are not uncommon– I need words like “It’s okay to do nothing…it’s okay to not have much to show for your day.”  Probably lots of us need that permission while we are sheltering in place.


UVA laying down the law.  “Say aloud and keep walking.”

Today I needed the opposite.  A reminder that I will probably feel better if I do something- produce something, check something off a list.  Create some semblance of a before and after.

I’ve been very, extremely, overly, hyperaware of my kids’ needs and emotions lately.  In enneagram speak, it’s the 6 in me.  What do they need?  How do they feel?  How do they feel about what they need?  I’m out here waving my emotional thermometer, constantly checking temps.  Who’s running hot?  Who’s okay?

I think this is just parenthood.  This is a byproduct of my job, too.  For work, I listen and go deep in the weeds of a person’s story.  (I think stories are important.)  When I think about my kids, I wonder what stories are forming that will play out in relationships and on a therapist’s couch down the road.  Because they will.

Sometimes all of that consideration and temperature-checking is exhausting.  And not entirely helpful.  I’m like that fly that keeps buzzing into your kitchen window…zooming away…and coming back for more.  Dear fly, you are working your ass off but not going anywhere.

*Who on earth is still reading right now?  Hang in there; I am running out of words.*

Today was a day to- again, in Enneagram-speak- move away from 6’ing and more toward 3’ing.  Take into account the emotional temps, but GSD a little bit too.

  • push the kids out the door to play at the Rivanna River (even if they don’t want to)
  • edge around the flower beds
  • make a dinner that I am excited to eat

Tomorrow might be another day where I need a reminder that it’s okay to zone out, it’s okay to use screens as filler, it’s okay to have cereal for dinner.  Those things are all true. Today I need to aim for the opposite, and that’s true too.