Things We Keep From the Distancing

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Things We Keep From the Distancing

I’m a single mom to three boys and a small business owner. As I write this, I thankfully have some money coming in, but am literally $1 over my monthly bills budget for April. Financially, this virus outbreak and the social distancing to flatten the curve have been devastating. I work in a very non-essential way and am in people’s homes usually for days and/or weeks at a time. All that is gone now. For how long? Can I live off my savings? Is there oil in the backyard that I’ll maybe strike trying to edge a flower bed? My mind races and my heart pounds. I’ve doubled my sleep meds, lest I lay awake at night adding dollars and cents and trying to make it all come together…

I got sick. Really, really sick in the first few days of March.

For two weeks I barely ate, slept constantly, couldn’t walk across my house without gasping for air and needing to sit down. My fever shot up to 104°F and I slept in fits of sweaty delirium for two days. Recovery was slow. I had worked myself nearly to death prior to getting sick. I was dehydrated, I had lost weight, I worked in my workshop hours after the kids went to bed at night. I had no joy and no energy. Being so ill was miserable, but also a blessing. For the first time since having mono as a college freshman, I had to — actually had to — rest nearly constantly. I slept for 12-16 hours a day while my mom and my boys’ dads took over caring for them. On my “off weekend” when the boys were with their dads for three days, I joked to my best friends that I was “growing into my bed.” I watched every single show/series/period drama/masterpiece classic I had ever wanted to see. I read a whole book. I breezed through magazines. I drank water and tea and juice and ate with reckless abandon.

Then the world sort of stopped.

And I sort of stopped too.

And it’s been beautiful.

We homeschooled for a few days and then I gave up, fearing a mutiny the likes of which Blackbeard would be scared to see. We talk about documentaries on Nat Geo and make books. We walk and identify trees, flowers, and animals. That’s enough school, I think. We don’t have a schedule. We don’t have a bedtime. We don’t have a wake time. I don’t worship at the altar of fast food anymore. I feel physically well. I’m cooking more than I ever have. My boys are each other’s best friends and worst enemies. We are hugging more and talking a lot. We are outside and active. We planted a victory garden. There are forts and living room camping. There are drives with the windows down and the sunroof open just to feel the wind. We feed the ducks in our neighborhood pond. I look forward to such simple things now: seeing a neighbor, waving at someone while weeding a flower bed, sunny days to blow bubbles and draw with chalk, a breeze to quickly dry paint on a home improvement project, talking constantly to friends and family…these are the things I want to keep.

The world moves so fast, and yet for the last month it seems to barely move at all. I want to set my own pace from now on. I want to never take for granted a girls’ night or even a trip to Target. I want to stand in front of my pantry and concoct a meal from whatever is laying around. I want to feel human touch again (from someone over the age of 10) and will never take for granted getting to go out and do whatever I want to do on any given day.

I love a good period drama and one of the things I love most has always been how much simpler everything seemed. No racing ahead. No deadlines. Nowhere to be and no regard for keeping things scheduled. It seemed that way because life in most of these times portrayed (Victorian times, both world wars) had to be that way. We are all living in our own version of a period drama now. We can all be the heroine we’ve dreamed of being or a version of her anyway. We are setting a much calmer pace and anchoring our families. And while we aren’t doing it in vintage fashions or with plucky one liners, we are doing it just the same.

The things we keep after this pandemic is over, after we return to normalcy again, I hope shape a life in which we all have been shown what is the upmost importance: family, rest, human interaction, simple pleasures, kindness, self-preservation, and love in many forms.

This time is hard. And frustrating. I’m scared. We are all scared. But this time has also been sacred. Please, oh please, let’s let the goodness of the ordinary and the small blanket over the things we keep after the dust settles and life resumes again.

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Ashley
I'm a single mama to Maddox, Walker, and Finn as well as our three dogs Charlotte, Ladybird, and Nick Carraway. The boys and I live in the Colonial Village area of South Knoxville where I run a furniture restoration business, teach voice lessons at a non- profit school, and blog for Dollywood on their Insider panel. I love summer, British period dramas, baths, cheese, Charleston SC, Biltmore, travel, wine, and books. I'm Beatles obsessed, I sleep with too many pillows, I've been known to burst into song on the regular, and I'll never pass a stray animal or abandoned piece of furniture in the road that I won't put into my car. My house is a wreck, I don't limit screen time, we eat way too much convenience food, and I'm a top contender for the World's Okayest Mom.

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