It is now September, and 2020 has been anything but expected. A pandemic swept our world, stay at home orders and mask mandates, school and business closures, lack of necessities, extreme social justice issues, rioting and looting. All of it seems so overwhelming, yet I realize what a privileged and comfortable existence I have lived thus far.
In our own little quarantined world, I told my husband as he left for Costco one day this past May, that if he found any meat whatsoever, to buy one of everything, knowing it may not be available anytime soon. Severe hoarding of toilet paper and cleaning supplies had begun and we were beginning to see the decrease of available meat and dairy products as farms and factories decreased their production and sometimes even closed their doors. I said I didn't care if it was something we normally ate or if I even knew how to prepare it. We would learn to like it and I will learn how to cook anything. I am thankful he was able to fill both of our freezers and we were able to order out when our food levels ran low.
I have to admit, I loved having extra time at home during the stay at home orders. Not only did my husband and I complete quite a few projects that we had been meaning to get to, we also purged 41 bags and boxes of donations that were then brought in when the donation sites reopened. I also enjoyed making new foods and trying new recipes. My husband bought an air fryer, and in combination with my instant pot, I have experimented quite a bit. Some big winners, a few horrible failures. But more often than not, smiles and clean plates.
Now as fall begins and kids return to school, whether it is distance or at school learning or even hybrid learning like both of my kids, we are learning to make accommodations in our lives so that life can continue, even in the presence of a pandemic. Masks in both cars and even an extra set for our whole family. Lots of hand washing and antibacterial pumps in both cars. Masks in all public spaces and avoiding busy areas where keeping 6 feet apart from others isn't always possible. But we make these accommodations to remain healthy ourselves and to also help those we come into contact with. My kids still complain, but they usually quiet down right quick when I ask them if they would like to continue just staying home all the time.
While my family was home all spring and summer and now continuing into the fall, I have realized something quite interesting. I feel as if I have been quarantined with a bunch of critics. People who have always had ideas and opinions about things, but now feel super comfortable sharing all of this unsolicited information. Whether it is about how they would do something, how I chose to do it differently or even ideas about how this something should be done differently in the future, so much conversation seems to be taking place. Sooooo much conversation.
I am an extroverted introvert. Meaning, I like going out and having fun and meeting new people and having great conversations. But I also enjoy being by myself, the quiet that entails and solo activities such as walking, swimming, reading and watching movies. Because of the work that I do as a Professional Organizer, I talk a lot at work. I talk with clients about everything involving organization and how they would like for me do something. I talk to them about what I will do in between the day that I am with them and the next time I work with them. I also listen. A lot. Being a Professional Organizer has made me into the equivalent of hair stylist or bartender. There are issues. I listen to said issues.
So when I get home, my brain is tired. And sometimes my heart also. A lot of heavy burdens are shared with me that can weigh me down a bit as the day comes to an end. This can be exhausting. At home, I still need to cook and clean and prepare for the next day. This is a lot.
Yes, I want to know about what my kids do during the day. Yes, I want to know about how work was for my husband and if he was able to take care of some of the problems with a troubled employee. I however have found that I do not wish to hear my daughter tell me about how she needs me to do her laundry more often because she really wants her camp tee shirt and her three sweatshirts available to her most days. Or how my son doesn't want to eat what I have prepared for dinner and then goes to fridge and pulls out what he really wishes I would also make. I have little patience when my husband doesn't understand that I can't drop everything to help with something that seems so very urgent when my evening to do list is a mile long. So, again with the excessive talking, I explain that I am one person and can only do so much.
-Hey, next time maybe you could put peaches or strawberries on the cheesecake, and not cherries again.
-I saw that there was a different type of hand towel on Amazon. Maybe buy those.
-I am not wearing these. I hate dresses. Stop buying me anything like this.
-I'm not eating that.
-Maybe next time you can get all the skin off when you cut my apple.
-Did you change the detergent you are using? My face masks smell weird.
-Can you always buy this hand soap for this bathroom and the one upstairs? I love the smell.
-Why don't you try flipping the tater tots more often. Then the one pan won't get so crispy.
-Don't fold my laundry. I wear it all before I even get it out of the basket.
I purchased the hand towels, he was right. They are great. I made the cheesecake with peaches. I stopped buying her dresses and you bet, he ate what I made. The face masks are clean. And they smell amazing. I can't find that hand soap all the time, but I will keep looking. I have now taught my kids how to make quite a few different items in the microwave, on the stove and in the air fryer. And I will still do the laundry but have now taught everyone how to put it away and to actually put clothes in the dirty clothes baskets so that I know it is dirty and needs to be washed.
Will there always be opinions and suggestions? Yes. Will they be different from what I want to do or even from what I want to hear? Yes. Will some of it sound critical of how or why I do things? Absolutely. But what can I do to soften the blow? What can I do so that the critic understands I am doing my best and that I am willing to work as a team if they are? I can love them as I explain the why, the how and the when. I can explain my day, what it looks like and what I hope to accomplish. I can tell them when I need help and not try to do everything myself. I can joyfully delegate, trust that they are doing a good enough job and not be critical myself. And I can encourage my family. Because often when extra conversation and suggestions or even rude behavior occur, it is usually because something isn't understood. And understanding comes from modeled behavior and further explanation.
I may feel overwhelmed, and that some days are just too much. I may feel like I am so behind and will never catch up. But I need to be a good listener, and a good example. I need to take suggestions and implement them when I can. I need to love and answer questions even when I don't feel like it. I need to lead by example.
I hope at some point I will be able to quiet the trivial concerns of the critics that I have been quarantined with. I know they will always need lots of love, lots of hugs and lots of information to make sense of our home life and life in general in their own brains. And if I can be of assistance on that journey, I feel honored. So very tired, but honored.