Yesterday was a sh**show! Let me say that again – yesterday was a sh**show! I mean a “Murphy’s-Law-If-it-ain’t-one-thing-it’s-another-the-devil-is-ALWAYS-busy-Mama-said-there’d-be-days-like-this” kind of day. Which led me to do something I promised myself I wouldn’t do – write about my experience with this pandemic. I know the situation the world is in right now makes for a lot a material for us creatives, regardless of your medium, but I decided early on that I wouldn’t be one of the people using COVID-19 in my writing; despite the fact that is partly responsible for me having more time and head space to write. I appreciate all the writers who are using the pandemic in their work. But I’ve always been a stick my head in the sand kinda girl. I have never been good at facing hard reality head-on. Ergo, no one had to tell me to limit my consumption of news and social media about what’s going on. No one had to tell me not to bathe and bask in it. I don’t want to see and hear about this all the time; really any of the time, but I know I have to stay informed for the well-being of myself and my family. So I take little nibbles of information, but I am basically flat out running from the reality of this really bad situation we are in right now.
But yesterday showed me I can run, but I can’t hide. And before I go any further, let me assure you, concerned reader, that none of what happened was life-threatening. It was a one thing after another kind of day, but in the midst of COVID-19, it became almost more than I could handle. And I think I’m pretty tough most of the time. Hell, I have to be – I’m a single mom. But more about that later.
So, I woke up in a fairly good mood and prayed, as I strive to do every day. I decided to take a nice hot shower before conference call church. I really enjoyed that shower, nice hot water on my aching back and other muscles (since I might have done a little too much physical activity the day before because I’m determined the “Quarantine 15” is not going to get me). Anyway, I go to turn the shower off and it won’t turn off. So, there I stand, twisting and turning the knob this way and that, to no avail. While I’m doing this, two things are occurring simultaneously – my frustration meter is rising and I’m thinking “how sad is it that I don’t even have to leave the house and I still can’t get to church on time?” Finally, it occurs to me to hit the little button (lever, knob? whatever) on top of the spigot to make the water stop coming out of the shower head (cause that’s just annoying now), then I keep twisting and turning and finally get it down from a full-force flood of water to a steady stream.
Great start to my day. I truly have no idea how I’m going to resolve this problem, so I close the door that connects the bathroom to my bedroom to see how annoying that sound is going to be when I’m trying to sleep. I breathe a sigh of relief when I decide that I can barely hear it. See, head in sand.
So, I carry on with my previously scheduled program. Church. Meals. I’ve ordered groceries from Shop-Rite from home and have to pick up at 5. That’s a little late for my liking, but thanks to COVID-19 time slots are few and far between and I had to take what I could get. Then I get a call about 1:30 telling me my order is done and I can pick it up early. Whoo Hoo! I take a nice walk in the park with my son and we head to our not so local Shop-Rite. Oh, and I talk to my landlady’s handy man who says he can come by today to look at the shower. Win!
Let me just pause here and be clear. I hate grocery shopping. I mean hate it with a passion. I always have. Which is why I started using the shopping service about 2 years ago. It really worked for me. But now, not so much. I can’t get a time slot in a reasonable amount of time, they don’t have half of what I need, they’re not doing substitutions and no returns. I don’t know about you, but I find shopping in this current situation soooooo stressful and nerve-wracking.
Anyway, we get to the store, glove-and mask-up and head in. When they called me, they told me what items on my list were not available, so we have our secondary list. Once my son became a teenager, we’d divide and conquer in the grocery store (cause my boy doesn’t like it any more than I do), but with this mess going on, I like to keep him close to me. But, having to pick up a few items is better than doing a whole shopping trip (did I mention I do my mom’s shopping too?). So we get those additional items and go to the pick up counter and check out. Not too bad. We load up the car, separating my mom’s groceries from ours for the drop off at her house.
We get to mom’s, I chat with the neighbors (social distancing, of course – have you noticed that now whenever we say we talked to someone is person, we assure the listener that we were “social distancing”? It’s like if we don’t we’re afraid we’ll become a social pariah). Anyway, I digress. We take mom’s groceries to the porch – that’s our system because she is a member of a high-risk group. We’re about to leave and it dawns on me we should have more bags for her and I get to thinking…where is her this or that? And by the way, where is my such and such??? Hmmm. So, I begin to peruse the print-out they gave me of what I ordered and what I got and lo and behold, there are several items I’m listed as having, but I don’t recall seeing. I get out of the car to madly paw through the groceries looking for frozen broccoli and spinach and pizza. Not there. Now I grab my receipt and I’m thinking dammit, did I pay for stuff I didn’t get? And of course that’s exactly what happened. Meanwhile, my poor mom is standing at her door asking if I’m OK and all I can do is growl “NO!” When she asks what’s wrong, I just keep yelling “I can’t talk!” Because I really couldn’t. I didn’t have any words that were fit to utter. I’m slamming doors, cussing and trying valiantly not to just scream at the tops of my lungs because that’s what I so desperately wanted to do. And my sweet son is half in the car, half out, looking like Linda Blair just jumped in the driver’s seat.
So, then, I frantically start calling the store while heading for home because I’ve still got perishables to put away. They’re not answering the damn phone and it’s all I can do not to hurl mine through the windshield. I’m thinking I probably should not have been driving in this state.
Finally, I get someone on the phone and I’m primed for a fight – my word against theirs about these groceries, I’ve already envisioned it. But no, after I give my name, the young lady says “Yes, we have two bags here in the freezer for you.” I heave a big sigh and tell her I’ll be back to get them.
But, in the house I find that it’s hard for me to come “down the ladder”. I can’t seem to get myself together. I’m still on the verge of throwing things, I’ve got to call the handyman and tell him he can’t come today, I’ve got to drive another 40 minutes round trip to get food I should have gotten when I was there, it’s already after 6 and there is no dinner in sight for my child. I’m standing in the kitchen with all this swirling in a nasty brew in my head and suddenly I’m exhausted. I’m just done. The next thing I know I’m nearly in tears about how my job should have given us our Spring Break off, because don’t they know this “shit will make you lose your mind!” Yup, that’s what I said. And my baby, son of a social worker, is talking me through deep breathing and rubbing my back, like I do to him when his emotions get the best of him and telling me one of the frozen foods I’m going back to get will do him fine for dinner. And my old friend, single mom guilt, rides in to mock me. So, now I feel like the worst mom ever. My child should not be comforting me. So now I’m apologizing to him, telling him I should be modeling for him how to handle the stress of this situation (because everything I read about how parents can help their children through this says so). He gives me a hug and tells me it’s OK and I think, not for the first time and surely not the last, that I am so blessed that God gifted me with this child.
As I sat at my desk at almost midnight writing this, single mom guilt had slunk away to prey on some other overwhelmed, tired, anxious mother, the handy man had come after I got back from the store the second time and at least turned the water off, my child was asleep and I was tired deep in my bones. I can’t say I wouldn’t have had the same reactions to the day’s events if we weren’t living through this pandemic, but I do believe that my emotions were heightened by this situation. But…I came down the ladder and was so thankful that I prayed in the morning and I serve a mighty God.
And this probably won’t be my last COVID-19 blog post. So much for my resolution that this pandemic won’t dictate what I write about.