Sarah is also my first cousin thrice removed but on the other side of my family. Like Dóra, Sarah found me (actually, it was her husband Jason who was brave enough to call) when doing genealogical research. Both these young women, in their thirties, mothers of young children, have a deep commitment to unearthing and understanding our family history and the impact the Holocaust continues to have on us.
Sarah kindly gave me permission to reprint this post from her blog, Writing Light in Dark Corners. I always appreciate her “Musings on life, politics, religion, motherhood and anything else that animates my soul.”
4 – 6 weeks
by Sarah Doeppner Snow, Fairfax County, Virginia
Now that many of us have been in this quarantine for over a month, I feel a shift in the way we’re operating. It’s not the best shift. The grace and forgiveness that flooded our veins in the beginning of this, when we were all figuring out our “new normal,” has started to subside. I’m not saying people are being less helpful or kind, but we’re ramping up our expectations of normalcy. We are sure that it’s time for things to be OK (whether or not they indeed are).
Some of this is evidenced by states and localities who are planning to open up despite evidence that this is unwise. Some of this I see in work places when folks are now expected to go back to their usual workload (or be able to increase it), as if now is the time when we should have this work-from-home thing figured out. (Thank God not my work place, but I have friends who are back to the grind times ten!) Some of this I see in ourselves, where before we said, “It’s OK, I can be gentle with myself in this time,” we are now saying, “Well, I really should have this figured out by now, why am I so stupid?”
I don’t know what the science or sociology is behind all of this, but I suspect that there is something empirical about 4 – 6 weeks as the amount of time humans expect to adjust and be back in business. After 4 – 6 weeks, no matter what is actually happening, something in our brain says, “This should feel normal now, all unrealistic expectations are invited to return!”
We’re at that mark, when folks are antsy. What was good-enough is now not. What was reasonable is now ridiculous. What was above-expectations is now sub-par. But here’s the problem: just like a mother in week 6 postpartum, a time when women are often expected to be ready to rejoin the work force, we’re not fully adjusted. We’re not fully healed.
Also, I don’t think we’re ever supposed to be fully adjusted to a pandemic. Just sayin’.
So instead of being fully adjusted and completely ready to move into this new way of being, we’re actually losing it. We’re less adjusted because what we’ve really been doing is holding our breath. We’ve been holding it as long as we could, still functioning and moving around, but knowing that it was weird. We’ve just all finally broken and taken a collective breath of pandemic, and I think all of us just went “OH Hell no. This cannot be what it is.”
So, we close our eyes and walk off a cliff.
Sorry, no, I mean, we close our eyes and just imagine that it is, in fact, normal. That this is all fine, we are fine, you are fine, it’s FINE. And in order to fuel our collective delusion, we just will normalcy into being. I am now fully functional, and so are you. So help me God, or I have to open my eyes to see the truth.
I believe that there is a new normal in all of this, but we’re not there yet. It’s going to take a little longer, and it’s OK if you are not feeling OK yet. It’s going to take a lot longer than 4 – 6 weeks. We are doing good work; we have made lots of adjustments. Now we need to give ourselves some time to adjust to the adjustments.
It’s OK if this is still hard, or actually, harder.
Thank you so much for your post, Sarah. Your words put me in touch with what I wasn’t even aware of. They helped make my feelings much clearer, and opened my heart more fully to myself.
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Thank you for your excellent post. We ALL need to cut ourselves some slack. Everything is not normal and whatever that means to you may be different for me.
It seems to me not much has changed for working mothers since I became one 30 years ago. It is hard. It is very hard. And now you have quarantine and no daycare. These are uncharted waters for modern work/family life struggles. Make it work FOR you as best you can. You are strong, but don’t forget to ask for help.
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I start my day with these heartfelt posts, Ruth. Blessings all. In their thoughts, reflections, feelings, being. The presence of these writers is palpable.
Now, on this last one: Sarah, I will never have a way of knowing —:really knowing — your experience as a mother, as a woman. I do know though as a member of the Tribe the truth with which you speak about our current malaise.
Leadership makes a difference.
And, if it is a truth universally acknowledged that a country in need of this leadership will suffer mightily without it then our time I believe is coming. As a people, as a country.
In the meantime it is posts like your own that awaken the heart to the possibilities.
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Fully understand your thought and feelings. It’s incredible how similar cultures can differ so greatly in Their sociological artitude and behaviour. Being an Australian I’m very proud of our government as well as the population who took on and accepted responsibility to, as a community: as a nation, manage the Covid19 menace. (I should say the Wuhan Virus). We have been in lock down for over six weeks now
And the famous, all telling “Curve” is flat as a pancake. We still register a few deaths but these are the poor souls (mostly 70-90+) who lost the fight against this very specific, designed virus. So here are the stats: 25M people, 6500 infections, 5800 declared safe and healthy, 90 dead and another 40 fighting in ICU)
America DON’T DO STUPID. Liberty and Freedom are fine but fighting a Virus by sacrifice your, your loved ones lives is not brave but totally stupid. Patience is a virtue as well as it will save thousands of lives.