(Just realized I never posted this – and we’re about eight months into it…)

We truly have become a family of introverts. Whenever we spend too much time together, everyone splits up into separate rooms and we don’t talk. For hours.

Nobody ever does laundry except for me. I don’t know why. Everyone will do dishes occasionally, the kids will all clean the living room, or clean off the dinig room table. Marc happily cleans the toilet and shower, and sometimes it’s without being asked. But literally nobody, ever, even attempts to do laundry. It’s like there’s this odd bubble around it and they all collectively believe that you need ovaries and to be above a certain age in order to operate the equipment.

Julianna is really, really talented at arts and crafts. And cooking. She’s just starting to learn to cook, and I think she’s much better at it than either Jessie or I. She follows directions, first of all, so right off the bat, she’s in a stronger position.

Sam is endlessly sweet, and never, ever gets mad. Ever. That’s slightly concerning, I guess, but also so lovely. He occasionally gets miffed at his sisters, and he certainly has times when he’s stressed or anxious, but he always, always wants to make me happy and do whatever I want him to do.

Jessica Mary is rolling into her senior year, and everything feels precious and important to me. Like it’s all coming to an end soon, and I need to soak up all of it. She’s ready for college, I’m ready for her to go to college, and it’s going to break my heart into a million pieces when it happens. And that’s all I can write on that subject at the moment.

It’s 2020. Of course it’s not going to be a normal Thanksgiving.

But it’s still Thanksgiving, which means that there will be drama. Always with the drama.

I don’t like to focus on it, and I’m always a little impatient with people who blithely claim to be an empath and thus are unable to handle things. But the reality is that I really do get overly impacted by other people’s emotions – and there are a LOT of emotions around Thanksgiving. It’s not just that it’s my mother’s favorite holiday, it’s also my daughters’ favorite, it’s got traditions that we’ve been doing forever, Marc and Sam have their own traditions, it’s this huge enormous THING and summarily cancelling it is HARD.

Nobody wants to get sick, and nobody wants to spread covid-19. You can’t get a test for love or money, and even if the test is accurate, it’s only accurate for the moment when you got the test taken. You could get infected on the way home from the test, get the results four days later and think you’re safe, meanwhile, you’ve been spreading corona all over the place. Everything is risky, everything is scary, and the only way to guarantee safety is to stay home, in your house, and not ever let anyone in.

Which then starts up all sorts of other issues – namely, having money to buy food and keep a roof over your head. Marc has to work, and he’s going into people’s houses all day. He’s being safe, he’s masked and gloved and doing as much of it as he can outside. But he’s still exposed to the general public. I go to the library for book pick up and go grocery shopping. And there’s a mental health component too – giving up everything all the time takes a toll as well.

So we’re having a very different sort of holiday this year. No Pie Day, no visiting with my mother – and that devastates me. Breaks her heart too, and my girls are unhappy and sad. But we’re going to celebrate at home, with just immediate family (and I include Glenny in that group, because she is immediate family – plus she’s been quarantining for two weeks). Marc’s parents are coming. It’ll be exactly 10 people – but we have a big family, in and of itself.

Christmas isn’t going to be much different. The numbers aren’t likely to be much better (and might be significantly worse, if that’s possible). But Christmas doesn’t feel as weighted as Thanksgiving does. If for no other reason than we don’t have a lot of traditions built up around Christmas. We’ll skip our annual Hanukkah Open House, obviously, but otherwise, we’ve shifted around traditions almost every year for Christmas.

I’m pinning all my hopes on things getting better in the spring. I want to watch my baby graduate high school, and have a huge party to celebrate her. I want her last summer at home to be amazing, with tons of beach trips and adventures.

Mostly I just want my life back.

I took the girls down to my mother’s today, and we went to Harvard, MA. My great grandparents grew up there, and my mother drove us all over the place, looking at houses where she had played as a little girl, roads she had biked on a teenager, and the cemetery where my great grandparents and assorted other family members are buried.

We bought hot cocoas and an assortment of chips, loaded my mother’s insane little dog in the back with the girls and set out.

There’s something about the chemistry of my mother and my daughters. It’s not full-proof (flashback to the sunrise trip to the ocean, whereupon my girls tried to kill each other), but when it’s good – it’s really, really good. And today, it was just good. The girls got along (almost the entire time) and it was so lovely to spend that time with my mom.

For what it’s worth – I’ve always thought that bemused is a perfect meld of befuddled and amused. Which is what I am right now.

It’s 4:08 on a Tuesday afternoon… and I’m alone. Each kid is sequestered in their bedrooms (okay, Julie is in my room) and using some sort of electronic device. It’s possible Julie is reading a book. I’m hopeful she’s reading.

I’m sipping my second cup of coffee, working on Lilli’s blanket (I’m hoping to get it done by Thanksgiving), and watching television. Everyone is happy, content and quiet. Without my involvement.

So much of the past few months have been all about togetherness. The kids can’t go to school, we really shouldn’t be going anywhere or doing anything, so we spend a LOT of time together. And we still do. I mean, Jessie filters in and out of the living room, and I spent most of the day educating Sam and Julie. But this quiet, alone time seems so bizarre to me.

For that matter, so much of the last seventeen years have been me with a kid. First with baby Jessie, and then Sammy, and then my little Julianna Ruth. Once Julie was off to school – we almost immediately had Sam’s accident, so I’ve always had a kid at home with me. All the time. And now… they’re all good. All content doing their own stuff and leaving me with time to crochet and sip coffee and wonder how it all changed so fast.

I miss those years. I do. But I kind of love this time as well.

The coronavirus is still here, and appears to be taking over the country. To say that I’m relieved that Biden was elected is ridiculously understating it – there’s a weight that’s been lifted. Donald Trump was simply… beyond description, and I’m profoundly grateful that he was ousted. I’m also really hoping that the language around covid will both calm down and get more realistic. Because so many people seem to not believe that it’s real, the ones who do go overboard trying to convince them. I’m hoping for more caution, more measured information. More information, period.

Marc is back to work on the road – while he’s been working for a few months now from home, now he’s back in the car. I’m cautiously, hopefully, and perhaps foolishly ignoring that he’s going into people’s houses daily, multiple people’s houses, and putting all my confidence in PPE and assiduous use of sanitizer and masks.

Jessie has given up all hope of a normal senior year. Originally, there was talk of some kids going back in November, and her grade/group was slated to go back at the end of January. Now the November date has been pushed back to January, which maybe pushes her back to March – and given that AP exams are at the end of April… she’s probably just going to be home for the year. I’m hoping for some sort of graduation for her.

Sam is dealing with a LOT of stomach issues. Dry heaving, throwing up all the time, and there’s no explanation. Sam suggested that it might be the allergy shots, because the throwing up got worse after we started immunotherapy – but Sam wants to continue with them, because he wants to not have allergies anymore. His allergist essentially told me I was crazy, people don’t throw up from environmental allergies. But we can’t find anything else.

My Julianna is bopping around the house. Homeschooling is going really well – we’re on the third or fourth curriculum, but it’s been hard to figure out the right one. I think we’re in a good routine – she’s doing an interactive notebook for science and history, and workbooks for ELA and math. I use a lot of videos and make her read a lot. And I’m also pushing reading. All the reading.

We’re on hold with the house hunting. As we’ve been for years now. First it was that we didn’t have enough credit. Then it was that we had not enough income. Then it was that we should get even more credit, and then we had enough income – then Marc got furloughed. And then it was wait until he’s back to work, and back up to where he was pre-covid. And now it’s that we can’t count any of the unemployment income, so we have to wait. Again.

I’ve lost all hope.

But I JUST found out that Julianna got into TECCA, which delights me. She’ll start second semester, which means that she’ll be able to transition back to in person school without a hitch once school goes back. Which it has to, at some point, right?