Early this month, from March 5-8, Jad and I went to Asheville, NC to celebrate our 10th anniversary. It was wonderful to go out and do exactly what we wanted and spend lots of time together, mostly stress-free. It was sweet, peaceful, and exciting – just what we needed.
But when we got back from our trip, we were hit hard with all the things we had to do, how busy our schedule was for that week and every week after, and how difficult the kids were to deal with. True, it was just our normal life again, but the contrast from the days before was astounding. We love our children to pieces and would do anything for them, but they weren’t making it easy for us!
Then, just a few days later we were told Orange County Schools would be closed from Monday, March 16 through at least April 3. But that wasn’t all – soccer was canceled, and then church, and as time has gone on, almost everything we would normally do with the kids or together has closed (i.e. children’s museums, movie theaters, libraries, restaurant dining rooms), with the exception of parks and nature trails.
What a whirlwind of a month! And yesterday we found out that school will be closed until at least May 15!
I have a lot of thoughts and feelings swirling around my head from the past couple weeks.
Regarding School: I am definitely learning a lot more about patience and multi-tasking now that I have to home school. It was really hard the first couple days, but I’ve gotten the hang of it. We’ve been lucky, too. The teachers have been providing lots of assignments, online and paper, so we know what we need to do, at least for now.
Even though home schooling is hard and not ideal in many ways, many of my concerns have been alleviated: no bullying, no bad influences or temptations at school, and no uncomfortable bus rides. That has actually been a great blessing.
Of course it’s hard not being around friends, and some classes, like band, just can’t be done online, but being at home for schooling reduces the amount of time away from home and each other, and being at home helps the kids (especially Rigel) focus more.
Regarding Activities: To be honest, I was not that sad when soccer got canceled. I was so overwhelmed at how much time soccer for Kamren and Rigel (him especially) would be taking from our time together as a family, especially on the weekends. The boys were sad at first, but they haven’t mentioned it. And they still play soccer in the back yard sometimes. Tae Kwon Do took longer to be canceled, but it hasn’t been that hard without it. It’s a wonderful skill the boys are learning, but our Monday through Wednesday evenings have been clear. We haven’t had to rush anywhere, and the boys still practice their moves at home. It isn’t completely ideal that we can’t go to the museum or the library or many parks anymore, but the kids have been playing outside a lot, reading a lot, and Casey has also been teaching his brothers Dungeons and Dragons, which they play daily, so they are still having fun. Piano is a little different – they can’t go in person, but Casey and Rigel are doing online lessons, which is not as easy, but still works! I’m glad they are still practicing.
I am so happy, through all these changes that my kids aren’t on electronics and TV all the time, which has been great! So, even though I think the activities we normally have are good, we now know we can have just as much fun doing things at home. We’ve been having lots of fun outside and making fun food and treats. We also are feeling how nice it is not to have to rush everywhere all the time.
The one thing that I don’t like about just about everywhere being closed is that Jad and I really can’t go on date nights right now. We can obviously do things at home, but I miss getting out and about. I look forward to when we can go out on dates again!
Regarding Church and Church Activities: This one has been harder. I truly miss my church family, and the kids miss their church friends. It isn’t ideal that all church activities are canceled for now, we can’t go to church Sundays, nor can we do choir, etc. However, having church at home the past couple weeks has been lovely. It hasn’t been perfect, but I have felt the Spirit strongly as we have sung, prayed, had the Sacrament, bore testimony, discussed the scriptures together, and more.
I have an even stronger testimony of our prophet, President Nelson, who I know communes with God. Our church’s Come, Follow Me program came out a little over a year ago, and because we have it, we can have meaningful gospel discussion and learning in the home. We haven’t been worried about growing spiritually because of the abundance of wonderful resources our church has from manuals to videos to magazines to activities.
The biggest blow to me, out of all the closures, has been the temples being closed. I made a promise this year to attend the temple faithfully once a month. Due to the temple closures, I cannot keep that promise right now. There is no place I feel more peace than in the temple, and I have a strong testimony of the work that goes on there. I know that they will reopen soon enough, so I am waiting patiently for that day!
Regarding Social Distancing: This has also been so hard! We have so many friends, loved ones, and family in the area. Not being able to see them either not at all, or not as often, is really hard. I am so grateful, though, that we have modern technologies that allow us to text, call, send photos, and video chat. And since it is springtime, being outside together is usually pleasant!
So even though we don’t see many people right now, at least the six people in my house have each other to hold on to, and can feel the love from others through other means.
In General: I have gone from completely calm and full of faith, to overwhelmed, to a little worried, back to overwhelmed. There have been so many changes so fast, and there are so many unknowns. Yet, through it all, I still maintain my faith that God is with us and He knows exactly what’s going on. He’s there to help us through.
I know what my family is experiencing is only one of many experiences, and what is a blessing for me may actually be very difficult for someone else. I have compassion for those in very difficult situations at this time. I pray for you and wish the best for you. I do hope, though, that regardless of our circumstances surrounding this virus, that we can see blessings in it.
I have felt from the beginning of these temporary lifestyle changes that God is trying to wake us up, to tell us that we need to be prepared temporally and spiritually, because this is just the beginning of things that will happen on the earth in the last days. That doesn’t frighten me – it gives me hope because I know God is merciful.
Why is this virus here? Why has God allowed it? Perhaps that’s the biggest question for believers.
Well, there could be many reasons. It could be chastisement; it could be a please to turn back to Him; it could be a way to us to get our priorities straight and realize what really matters; it could be to unite us as people and families; it could be to encourage us to show compassion and give meaningful service to those who need it; or it could be all of those reasons and more.
All I know is, God is all-knowing and the circumstances surrounding this virus, though a nuisance and worrisome in many ways, have and will bring good fruits as we choose how we will react to them.
It may be a while before things go “back to normal,” and the question I have is, will there be a “new normal” when all is said and done? Perhaps, and it probably wouldn’t be a bad thing.
What have your experiences been during this time of quarantine? Have you seen blessings too? How has your life changed?