Alrighty, I started talking to you in March, Diary, so I could keep a record of what the After Times are like. I knew then we were entering a New Phase — hopefully a finite new phase, one limited to weeks, perhaps months — and I wanted to Remember what Really Happened. What it was Really Like. How we Really Coped.
Well, I’ll tell you, Diary, I’m Fatigued at the moment. And yes, technically it’s been an Era of Increasing Fatigue, starting with Becoming a Mother, followed by Becoming a Mother of Children Who Experience Disability, followed by Becoming a Mother of Twins, followed by Realizing I Have a Mental Illness and Depression Sucks Ass, followed by Realizing I’m a Person of Profound Privilege and Have Used My Power Poorly by Staying Quiet in the Face of Injustice, followed by Trying to DO Better Now That I’m Beginning to Know Better, followed by the Election of Donald F. Trump (yeah, yeah, I know his middle initial is J — I just feel like my interpretation is more accurate), followed by the Dissolution of My Church Because It Turns Out Exclusion Has Always Been a Main Tenet of the Christian Faith, followed by Living in a Country That Cages Asylum Seekers — including babies — During the Worst Displaced Persons Crisis the World Has Ever Known, followed by Horrific Crimes Against People of Color and Folks Who Are LGBTQ (which has Always Been Happening, but bless us Whities for Our Willful Blindness in the Face of Injustice), followed by… oh, IDK, Diary… it’s just Basically a Shit Show rn, you know?
So, yep. I’m tired.
And there are a lot of things on the Tired-Of List — Systemic Racism, LGBTQ Prejudice, a Lack of Advocacy for Kids Living in Poverty, a Dearth of National Leadership — but COVID is right up there, and, like White Folx everywhere, I sort of feel like Bad Things Should Be All Done when I’m tired of them. Definition of privilege much? Why, yes. Yes, there it is. I see it. It’s kind of hard to miss once it becomes obvious. Like the glare of the sun off a glass high rise — BLINDING. But also, I realized this past week I’ve been much less diligent about COVID precautions. I’ve seen more people. I’ve gone more places. And yes, I’ve still worn my mask and abided by the rules, but I can feel my diligence slipping. Because I’d just like for it to be Over now. OK? Please?
We’re three months into the After Times, and I understand why there’s a spike in COVID cases. We’re not very good at maintaining a high level of vigilance. Those of us with a measure of privilege — which we often mistake for freedoms everyone has (hint: they don’t) — get weary and decide we’re done. I hear it in the demands for schools to open at full capacity no matter what science says. I see it in the cries for business as usual. I recognize it in the criticism that the mask-wearers are foolish fear-mongers and that we should let the vulnerable look out for themselves while the rest of us get back to normal.
And don’t get me wrong — I’d like for schools to be open, and I’d like for businesses to be back to work. I don’t love wearing a mask, and I understand the desire to return to more familiar times.
But I also see that my desire for all those things is a result of exhaustion plus privilege.
Exhaustion + Privilege = Imaginary World Where Everything Is As I Wish It Would Be
It’s easier for me to “get back to normal” because my norm met my most basic needs. I had food. I had shelter. I had education for my kids. I had justice. I had safety and the ability to turn off screens when the news was overwhelming.
Now, all of that is harder. If I’m going to maintain COVID vigilance, I have to be more organized. I have to plan my shopping and my family’s meals and prepare ahead of time. I have to manage our environment in a way that facilitates kindness and cooperation. I have to think about how to get my kids on a learning trajectory and inject exercise into their days so they don’t go BONKERS or lose themselves inside YouTube. I have to stay on top of health recommendations and safety standards and adjust as we learn more from public health officials. And, if I really, truly desire to stand beside people who are vulnerable and marginalized, I can’t just shut off injustice when it makes me brain numb and weary. They can’t turn off their lived experience, and if things are ever going to change, I can’t come and go from What’s Right as I please.
But if I’m going to be honest and say How It Really Is for Me right now, I haven’t been doing well. I’ve been falling down on appropriate self-care which means I’ve been mentally unable to engage in any of the above.
I’m staying up too late at night, trying to shut off my revving brain with Netflix. (SPOILER: that delays the revving — it doesn’t shut it off. Although I’m not sorry for loving Jane the Virgin.)
I’m making less nutritious food at home and DoorDashing more food from “out.” Partly because I haven’t done a good job of getting help from my family to clean up so I have a place I can cook without wanting to beat my head against the (filthy) counter. And partly because I’m feeling Blerg and Bleck and Meh so, you know… motivation is an issue.
I’m functionally ignoring all the thing I know are most helpful in calming myself — getting enough sleep, reading for fun, following a simple schedule, cleaning my room, setting screen time limits and small-step action plans rather than just spinning out on helplessness.
So I’m just naming that all here, Diary. Just saying that’s what Exactly Three Months Into COVID is looking like. Feeling like. Acting like.
And yes, awareness and naming it will — cross fingers — help me make changes. But that’s not really the Ultimate Goal this second. The Ultimate Goal this second is simply Telling the Truth. What’s Really Happening. Where I’m Truly At.
Over and Out, Diary.
Image Credit: Maria Azzi via Unsplash.