I’ve said this (to my husband at least) since the start of the shelter-in-place season. It’s like we’ve been living in a giant pressure cooker. All of the time together created tremendous emotional pressure and unexpected responses. Our good moments became great. By the same token, our struggles have intensified. The things that, under normal circumstances would be a bright spot, became glorious beams of light and love. But the curve-balls and mole-hills, turned into mountains and freight trains.
In an Instant.
Now I don’t actually own a pressure cooker (of any variety. So this is obviously not an endorsement, only an analogy.) But I’ve seen them in action and I know how they work. With the lid locked in place, the pot is completely sealed. The temperature rapidly increases past the point of boiling, then pressure is regulated at the end, by way of steam being released. The whole cooking process is more efficient, but wildly more intense. When the cook time is over, the raw stuff is gone and your meal is complete.
When I find myself thinking of our society ‘opening up,’ (lifting the lid, if you will) it’s a confusing web of emotions. (Some might call it wildly intense.) I cannot wait to get back to the library, our favorite restaurants and my hairdresser. (God Bless Her!) But there are also things I find myself dreading about our previously ‘normal life;’ things I didn’t know weren’t working for us until now. In keeping with the pressure cooker analogy, these things are my steam. Now seems like as good a time as any, to start releasing some of those things that weren’t working in the first place.
I don’t know what your list holds … here’s the start of mine, though:
- Prior to all of this, I prided myself on busyness. I filled up the blank spaces on our family calendar and always was the first to raise my hand, volunteering for the next event/opportunity … I don’t want to do that again! Even in the past summer and school breaks, I filled our calendars and kept up with the speed of life. Our time together as a family has been fruitful, mainly because we’ve slowed down enough to enjoy it. I want … no, I need it to continue at this slower pace long past the start of next school year.
- Building off of that, I’m come to the harsh realization of how much of my emotional energy was pointed externally. Weeks ago, when we started to find a socially-distant routine, the collective mood of my kids shifted. They all became calmer, more even-keeled and agreeable. I thought it was the more relaxed pace, extra sleep or the lack of social-stressors. Instead, I’m wondering if it is because they aren’t competing for my energy (with anyone other than each other.) Because really, why haven’t my kids and I been riding bikes together? How is it only now, I thought to ask them to help me in the kitchen on a regular basis? How much did I miss out on right in front of me, while trying to focus on everything else?
- Which brings me to my next lesson … probably because I was chronically distracted, everything was so extra! Literally, I’ve been smacked in the face with this harsh truth in so many big and small ways. Here’s one example: I’ve become much more aware of how much food I cook for each meal. (Because, well… you know.) Last week, I promised my family pasta for supper. Once I started cooking, I saw we only had half of the amount I normally cook. I was filled with quiet anxiety, thinking there wouldn’t be enough to go around. Would you believe that we had the perfect amount? Everyone ate and there was enough left for me to have for lunch the next day. I’m embarrassed to think how much I wasted before! On a very regular basis … Since excess hasn’t been an option, I see clearly how much it really takes to meet our needs.
For a Lifetime
As the lid is unlocked on our society and the seal is lifted from our homes, we won’t ever go back to Pre-Coronoa times. We all know too much, we’ve seen too much and we’ve been through too much as a family and a society.
Honestly, I’m terrified that I will fall right back into the trap of how it was before. The busyness, the excess and all the unnecessary noise. I need to continue taking stock of the things I don’t want to lose and double down on the things that are helped to carry us through.