It is now month six of the pandemic and, aside from a few trips to Starbucks and a couple of distanced friend conversations, our family has been together twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for twenty-six weeks. That is a lot of together time. Even cloistered nuns get to retire to their own cells for some alone time each night.
Being together for this long is hard, no matter how much you love each other. Maybe it’s harder BECAUSE we love each other, I don’t know. I just know that I started this pandemic thinking that we were going to do all of the family together things perfectly now that we had time and six months later, I’ve read a few books, doom scrolled twitter, and watched the boys level up on multiple video games due to their non stop playing.
And I’m annoyed. I’m annoyed by socks on the floor, dishes in the sink, and headphoned-donned boys staring at screens.
I walked into this at-home experience expecting our family would revel in the opportunity for good old fashioned together time. Maybe we would sit around a crackling fire, hot cocoa in hand, while Ma read aloud from a book and Pa played a little something on the fiddle.
Instead, we have spent weeks of uninterrupted time together, all packed into the same house, independently doing the same old things we always do at home. None of this time has felt like the vacation I was hoping it would be.
Every once in a while I completely lose my mind, ranting about the little triggering annoyances in daily life. Do my kids even appreciate me? Why do they leave their dishes out ALL OF THE TIME? It would be funny if I wasn’t so serious.
After months of reality falling short of expectation, I finally took a step back and really looked around. My family was happy. We were still happy together after all of this time. I wasn’t sure what else I was trying so hard to achieve. And so I let my frustrations go.
And you know what happened? Nothing really. There is still a lot of screen time, I still find dirty dishes on the counter and socks on the floor, but I’m no longer angry about it all. Instead of seething, I’m baking more treats. And just yesterday, my son thanked me for the cookies.
I guess they do love and appreciate me after all.