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We Stayed Home, We Struggled, We Found Blessings ~ Mom and Daughter Reflect on the Stay-Home Days

As we slowly emerge from this time, this sort of pause on life, many of us are reflecting on all of it. Our feelings, the things we learned about ourselves and life itself, things we did and things we couldn’t do that we had taken for granted. My daughter, Mia, and I decided to come together and write a collaborative reflection to highlight some of the similarities and differences in our experiences, that we hope will help you all feel less alone and more encouraged going forward. 

Before Jumping In

Sydnei: One of my first thoughts is how this time has been much easier for me than it has for so many others. I feel very blessed that my family and I have remained healthy, and in fact, circumstances inspired me to find new ways to build my immune system and take even better care of myself. I was motivated to dive into learning all about ways to help the body prevent and fight this virus, and illness in general. 

As a mom to two in college, having my kids home for the past 3 months or so has been such an unexpected gift for me! But this very thing that is a gift for me has been hard on them in many ways. I’ve felt guilty at times for being so happy to be with them when I knew what they were missing. And my joy would be dimmed sometimes when I saw firsthand how challenging some aspects of this have been for them. 

Mia: It was so validating (and honestly very hard) to put into words how I was feeling, but the feedback I got helped me feel understood and not alone. I hope that my take on this situation has helped you feel less alone if you were/are struggling as well.

So here I am again, almost 2 months later, and I wanted to expand on my previous post and also share some of my new insights with you. 

To be honest, I am still struggling. While I may have moved on from the feeling of grief I was experiencing for all the things I was losing, I still haven’t been able to shake this feeling of constantly being stressed. Every day there is something new – a new stat, a new discovery, something newly opened or newly extending its closure. I try to avoid social media and the news these days, because the information is so overwhelming (not to mention often inaccurate as well). Even with the world moving towards opening, there is still much that is uncertain, and I am trying to overcome the stress by leaning into the uncertainty. 

I also have realized that, amidst what feels like constant unhappiness, there have actually been some wonderful blessings and joys that I want to take with me as we emerge back into normal life.

Morning Routine

Just like many of you, we found that we fell into new routines as our time in Stay-Home went on. Old routines and opportunities had been disrupted and taken away, and at first that was jarring, and for some it was much harder. So new routines and sources of fun offered relief, and we discovered some things we loved so much that we plan to make them part of our lives going forward. 

Sydnei: The one new routine that surprised me the most is that I no longer jumped right out of bed super early in the morning and into my day. I always used to do that so that I could get the most sleep, since I tend to stay up a little late and used to have to get up early and out to school on many days. With Stay-Home and everything being done remotely, there was no need to rush. So I started relaxing in bed after I woke up. I’d stretch, and catch up on Facebook or my blog, and just relax in the comfy. This is my new morning routine. Even when I head back to the preschools in the Fall, I’ll build enough time into my mornings so that I can have some of this relaxation and easing into my day.

Mia: Starbucks is basically my world, and I was missing my regular morning Starbucks experience. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, after making a daily routine of going to a different store’s drive-thru, I actually found immense comfort and joy from this. What started out as just doing what I could to get my coffee and facing my fear of drive-thrus turned into a daily activity I actually started missing as my regular Starbucks opened. I would listen to a bit of a podcast on my drive there, the sweet baristas learned what my name was and greeted me with a smile, and I would drive home listening to my podcast again while drinking my iced latte. I was so convinced that I would just be suffering through this change – and it turned into something I treasured. 

Exercise Together Can Be FUN!

Mia: I started noticing that there were other things I was doing that I loved just as much. I participated in the 28 Day Challenge for my anthropology class, and my mom joined me. I decided to move my body every day in some way, whether it was a walk or stretching or a “real workout.” The idea of having to move every single day was actually not fun, but every day since the challenge has ended we have still kept moving. My mom and I discovered how much we love to walk – around our neighborhood, to the business parks nearby, or past the apartment complex to casually peek in people’s windows. We also invented a creative means of lifting weights using bleach bottles, and found an amazing yoga YouTuber (Yoga with Adriene) whose videos we did often before bed. I never in my life thought I could actually bring myself to do something like this every day, nor did I ever imagine I would choose to exercise out of my own free will!!! BUT I DID. And I never would have if it weren’t for corona virus.

Sydnei: I joined Mia in the 28 Day Challenge. Each day we connected and moved – and we got more than daily exercise from all of this – we got uplifting time together and we have continued this newfound routine beyond the original 28 days.

The Gift of Gardening Together

Mia: Something I’ve also been loving is that this time has allowed me to garden with my mom. I used to make fun of her for pulling out of our garage and driving ever so slowly past our house so she could look at the flowers, and this is actually something I found myself doing a couple of times! Not only did we shop for flowers, but we also built and planted a vegetable garden. I got so invested in it and it became something so special for us to do together. We picked out the vegetables we wanted to plant and planted them together and it really became an activity that was “ours.” Had I been at school, she probably would have done it all herself and texted me pictures. This was no doubt a much more memorable and beautiful bonding experience. 

Sydnei: Even my creation of a vegetable garden and flower planting was much more fun and meaningful this year. Mia shared in the entire process, from taking down the old garden bed and building the new one, to choosing and planting flowers, vegetables and herbs. And she continues to care for it all with watering and checking on everything. What was once only my passion has become a passion that we share and that’s a whole new level of rewarding.

Meal Planning – A Chore Turned Cherished Event

Sydnei: Before Stay-Home we were amateurs at meal prep. During these past couple of months, Mia and I took the lead and started having meal planning meetings every Saturday. We’d check in with David and Ben and come up with a list of meals, often researching new recipes that we wanted to try, and then we’d make a list of everything we needed to cook them. This became such a fun thing for Mia and I to do together, and she would create a cute and organized grocery shopping list for us to make our shopping trips more efficient. Sunday or Monday became our grocery trip day, and usually the day we didn’t grocery shop was reserved for Target and all the items we could only get there. Even when Mia is back on campus in the Fall, we plan to FaceTime to do our respective meal planning. It won’t be the same, especially the grocery shopping, but we’ll still be able to connect over this fun and useful new routine.

Mia: I’m a big fan of watching meal prep videos. Even though I know I’ll never make the recipes, it’s some good YouTube entertainment. But with my mom wanting to go to the grocery store less, we realized we needed to do some planning. Despite watching endless meal prep videos, I really did not know how to plan dinners or create a grocery list! When I’m at school, I usually just pick up odds and ends and then wonder why I have nothing to make for dinner. Thankfully this is something my mom and I did together. I actually look forward to our weekly “dinner meeting!” Not only do I love planning with her, but I love cooking with her. My mom and I have tried a bunch of new recipes and have been baking desserts almost daily. I am truly cherishing doing this with her. Cooking dinner has become like a special event for me. As a child, we did tons of cooking and especially baking together. Who knew that coming downstairs from a shower to bake cookies in our pajamas could be way more fulfilling, exciting, and fun than an evening trip to HomeGoods? While I do miss HomeGoods, I am so grateful for this infinitely more special experience. 

Sitting With Struggles & Welcoming Light and Lessons

Sydnei: This Stay-Home time has left me with priceless gifts and powerful learnings that I’ll take with me always: Unhurried living peels back the superficial layers and reveals the soulfulness of life and in us. Real sacredness lies in family, our homes and faith. Simple things like a walk with your daughter, a drive with your husband or watching a show with your son are life’s unrecognized treasures. Less is truly more in so many aspects of life – slowing down lets us savor more BEing and less DOing. We can find innovative and very special ways to connect with and celebrate eachother, and sometimes these new “make-do” ways end up being just as wonderful or even MORE wonderful than the originals. We are far more adaptable than we realize, and while there’s surely so much that we miss, there’s also an abundance that we’ve found.      

Mia: There are still days when the weight on my chest is overwhelming and I just need to acknowledge how I feel and sit with it. However now that we are in the home stretch, I am starting to see little bits of light pop in amidst what I felt at first was total darkness. I am starting to find gratitude for this whole experience, the good and the bad. I know that these struggles are helping me grow, and I’ve learned that we are stronger than we think we are. This experience has also taught me that even amidst the darkest seasons, there are always blessings and lights that shine through when we’re ready to open our hearts to finding them. 

Here’s to going forth a little stronger, wiser and attuned to the blessings and light.

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