Got Lizziebeth’s nails trimmed and fur cut way down, she looks like an entirely new dog now. Not entirely sure I love it – I miss my scruffy little mess. Now she’s all sleek and looks like a shorn sheep. The good news is that we also got her a new leash, and it’s specifically for dogs who pull unmercifully. It really does make an enormous difference – Julie is able to walk her now.

Things are starting to open up. Slowly, slowly, and I’m still scared. Also confused, because from everything I’m reading, it’s not like coronavirus is going anywhere, so at some point, we’re going to have to start living our lives again. Even though there’s this huge disease out there, just hanging out, super contagious and potentially deadly.

Kids are all hanging in, and Marc is doing the same. Jessie is focused all the time on AP tests and SAT prep. She leaves the house almost every day, going for walks or coming with me to the store. She never goes in, she just sits in the car. Sam is also afraid to leave the house, he doesn’t want to get sick. Which is perfectly rational, instead of agoraphobic. But he’s happy – I think this is his best case scenario. Although he really wishes the girls would stop fighting all the time. Julie is the one who’s struggling the most. She liked her life a lot – and it all came crashing down.

Marc has taken to working out daily, and yesterday, he was in so much pain he was literally convulsing in the car. I’m frustrated that he keeps doing that to himself, and not sure if he’s just really bad at working out, if he’s getting older and needs to chill the hell out, or if he’s psychologically dealing with all the anxiety and stress that he won’t acknowledge by subconsciously pushing his body far beyond what it’s still capable of. The hitch is that his mental health is so dependent on being able to get a good work out, and his diabetes is kept under control, in large part, by working out consistently.

I’m actually okay. I mean, on some level, I’m terrified. Of everything. Of impending financial doom (although we’re actually fine now), of everyone I love getting sick and/or dying. I worry about Jessie’s senior year, and then her going off to college, about Sam and being able to do things independently when he can’t get his IEP set up because of the pandemic, about poor Julie getting depressed and sad because she can’t see her friends and go to school. But when I’m not terrified, it’s actually a very peaceful time in our lives. Everyone is home, safe, and spending all kinds of time hanging out and reading. I’m crocheting a blanket.

We’ll get thru this – and probably look back wistfully. But I’d like to be able to go to the beach this summer.

We started our self-isolation exactly six week ago today. At least the kids did, Marc started a week later.

Overall, this has been great for us. I mean, it’s exceptionally stressful and scary, because nobody knows when it’s going to end, and there’s this plague out there, and you don’t know who has it. Everyone is wearing masks, they’re mandated as of May 6, but I’ve been wearing one since we started this thing. It’s slightly terrifying because we don’t know Marc is going back to work, or what school is going to look like in the fall. There are so many questions about the future, and the biggest one looming over everything is the uncertainty around if someone we love or one of us is going to get sick. And if we get sick, will we be one of those that gets really sick? Will someone we love die?

But… when you forget that – it’s actually a lovely time for us. We’re okay with money, between the stimulus and the unemployment, we’re making roughly what we were making before. The kids are all doing some degree of home education. Sam is still in on-line school, albeit on a slightly reduced schedule. Julie is homeschooling – I’m making up assignments and she’s doing a ton of reading. Jessie is happily working all the time, applying to scholarships and studying for AP and SAT tests that may or may not count. There’s no arguing to get ready in the morning, no rushing from place to place. Best of all, Marc is HOME all the time. Going from working 60-70 hours a week to being just here was definitely a big adjustment – but it’s been lovely to have him here.

All the relationships are getting stronger, the kids are spending more time together than they ever have. I’m still working on getting Marc to talk to the kids and the kids to talk to him – they all tend to use me as the go-between. But I keep reinforcing “he/she”s right there – ask him/her” and hope that it’ll start.

There are still a lot of questions. A lot of uncertainty, and on one level, I’m scared to death of the future. But when I push that level aside, and focus just on what’s right in front of me, I’m grateful for this space and time. The year before Jessie goes off to college, when Sam in the beginning of his teen years and Julie’s on the cusp of puberty, having these past six weeks, and probably the next six weeks (maybe??) is an incredibly blessing.

Julie is my reward, I used to say. She’s my easy baby, the one who put herself on a schedule at two weeks, slept thru the night ridiculously early, ate whatever I offered her, and potty trained herself just after her second birthday. She’s my social butterfly. Even with all the teenage angst that she’s decided to adopt about three years early, she’s still my tiny baby, the one who feels like the perfect culmination.

She’s brilliant, insightful and kind. Thoughtful and impassioned and private and operating on fifteen different levels. She struggles to find her place in a family filled with intensity and exceptions. She’s beautiful, so much so it’s hard not to constantly tell her so. She’s intellectual, to the point where her teacher told me not to bother with the distance learning he’s sending home – that’s geared so far below her she’ll be bored.

My Julie is endlessly dancing, loves the rain and helping in the kitchen. She walks faster than I do, and wants nothing more than to be older than she is. We got her a tablet for her birthday, and she’s on it now, texting her friends, and begging for just ten more minutes. Her hair is greenish/blue now, after begging for weeks for me to color it. And I’m thinking about her, perched on her top bunk, with her dyed hair, her tiktok account and her friends texting her non-stop.

I wouldn’t trade the last ten years for anything. And as much as I wish that she was still little, I think the next ten years are going to be even better.

Happy birthday Julianna – I love you more than you’ll ever know.

It’s been an odd day. Yesterday was terrible, I was in the worst mood, and all I wanted was my life back. My friends, my car, my happy little schedule. My kids dancing off to school and my baby girl happy. Sam and Jessie are managing this well, but I feel like my little Julie is so sad.

Today, I went to Trader Joe’s. Waited in line for about twenty minutes to get inside, but it’s the only place that sells the GF oats that Jessie needs. And while Jessie is handling this whole covid-19 well – she’s still a lot more fragile than I’d like. And adding in no oats – why make it worse? So I bought some oats, and apples (because it’s the only fruit they’ll all eat reliably) and something else… cucumbers and milk.

Then we came home and there was a huge rainstorm. Hail, sleet, a little snow, and torrential downpours. But now, it’s gone and the sky is blue. It’s freezing cold (as I just had to take Lizziebeth out again) but from inside, it looks beautiful.

There are so many questions about the future. When will Marc go back to work? Will it be the same as it was before? Will colleges re-open for the fall? Will either of the older girls take a semester off, if it goes to on-line? What does k-12 school look like, with the prediction that we’ll have periodic shut downs? Am I making the right decision by sending Julie back to public school? I could pull her and enroll her in TECCA, like Sam, but she hates doing the online school now, and she loves her friends.

I walk around, with the future entirely up in the air, and when I think too much about it, I start to panic. Then I choke it down, grab another cup of coffee and pray that we all stay healthy.

We’re on the fifth week of the lockdown, and I’m officially losing my mind. I’ve lost any semblance of patience and am so frustrated and tired and I just want my old life back. With happy kids who had school and friends and a dog who could go to the dog park and a husband who bounced off to work happily every day. I’ve got an unending headache and I’m not sleeping well. There’s no end in sight – or rather, there’s all kinds of supposition and guess work as to what the end will be like or when it will happen.

Will the kids go back to school? Will college visits ever resume? Will colleges resume? Where do we go from here? Is it just going to be masks all the time? Blended learning? Will they go to school for a few weeks and then come back home? We’ve managed to avoid getting sick so far, but I don’t know if that’s because we literally let the kids go nowhere, and other than a few masked trips to the grocery store, we aren’t going anywhere either. Or maybe it’s because we already had it – back in February, early March, when both Marc and I were so sick and then Sam and Julie got it.

I’m frustrated and sad and in need of… something.

1 – Julie requires structure. I’ve learned this before, but have to relearn it over and over again because it somehow doesn’t sink in for me. From the beginning, when she put herself on a sleeping schedule by the time she was a week or to old, Julie gravitates towards order and predictability. I prefer to keep it loose, laid back, chill, even. Which is a recipe for disaster for my girl. And by the time I clued in, she was miserable. So now we follow a regimented routine, where I plan out her wake up time, her meals, her activities – there’s flexibility built into the system, but overall, things have gotten much better for her.

2 – Jessie requires activity. I have to get her out of the house daily, on a walk or a drive. Otherwise she goes nuts. She’s mostly handling everything really well, only one major melt down in the past month, and that had more to do with a migraine and lack of sleep than anything else.

3 – Sam really misses his old life. I don’t know if it’s just that he’s more expressive about it than the girls are, but he’s missing being able to see the older girls, and having these girls at school. He’s worried about restaurants opening back up and life going back to normal.

Just so we’re clear – I am not rising to the challenge. I’m frustrated, scared, near tears a lot of the time, and fighting with everyone. Except Sam, because it’s really hard to fight with a kid who steadfast refuses to ask me for anything that might stress me out. Not that I’m saying that’s good – because it’d probably be a hell of a lot healthier for him if he didn’t have this desire to constantly please me, but right now, when I’ve argued with Marc, Jessie and Julie – having one person who simply wants me to smile is reassuring.

Everyone is stressed out – I know that. Jessie is miserable stuck at home, she hates this apartment, can’t find anything to wear ever because her weight keeps going up and down, and nothing fits. She’s been losing weight over this year, because her diet is so limited, and now none of her clothes fit. Plus, the apartment is small, and everyone is on top of each other and that’s especially hard for my girl. Marc is outwardly doing great – he’s structured and doing 100% of the dishes, and the majority of the cooking, he’s teachig himself Hebrew and working out all the time. But he’s stressed out in little ways, and it’s not always easy to manage that. My poor Julianna is stuck, feeling like she’s always in the way, not on any kind of a routine, and super sensitive.

It’s been a really crappy day, on top of a really crappy day yesterday, and I’m worn out. I’m afraid of losing people I love, afraid of getting sick, afraid of not getting a paycheck anymore, afraid of Marc not going back to work, afraid of not being able to buy a house. The news is terrifying, all the time, and it’s just this sense of impending doom. Because you can be sick for up to two weeks before showing any symptoms, I don’t know that we aren’t sick, or that someone isn’t going to get sick. And even though I know, statistically, if one of us (the seven of us) were to get sick, we’d probably be fine, there’s always that chance. Of dying alone, in a hospital bed, without anyone we love there. And when I’m not worrying about that – I’m worrying about my mother, my in-laws, my aunts… this is just such an awful time, and even though I’m trying to handle it all with equanimity, I’m a hot mess much of the time.

All is not delightful this morning. Don’t get me wrong, it’s entirely my fault. Although I think if Lizzie would EAT HER STUPID MEATBALLS I’d feel better about a lot of things. Social distancing, self-isolating, whatever it is that I’m doing is not fun. And it’s getting harder and harder to remain cheerful and upbeat all the time. We’re coming up on two weeks (or is it three? Maybe just one? I’ll lost all sense of time), and I’m growing increasingly frustrated with the whole routine of bopping around the house, Marc, me and the three kids. And as soon as I form that thought, I start to beat myself up because we’re all healthy – and I feel this overwhelming sense of anxiety all the time. Will we get sick? Please God, let this just be something that we watch – the economic collapse, strangers getting sick and dying, but not have it actually happen to us.

Lizzie is recovering from lyme disease, and the treatement is 4 pills, 2x a day for thirty days. She hates them, and is now refusing to eat them. I’m not amused.

I read today that in NY, the doctors are recommending, literally, that you not leave your house. No walks. And we’re about a week, maybe, behind them.

I have to go grocery shopping today. I have a complicated relationship with spending money, and generally have developed a work around where I shop often but for very little at any one time. In addition to panicking about going out shopping today, I also have a low level fear of spending a lot of money in the trip.

It’s getting real now. The news is reporting more and more on the people who are dying, and the panic is low-level but constant. School has officially been cancelled through May 7, and I’m sure they won’t go back this year at all.

I go back and forth between thinking that this is all being blown out of proportion, and knowing that I’m wrong. Knowing it’s a survival mechanism so that I don’t descend into full blown, non-stop panic, but somehow manage to maintain some semblance of normalacy for the kids.

Oddly enough, it’s possible that, as long as we stay healthy, we’ll emerge from this financially okay. We qualify for unemployment and emergency SNAP benefits, and I think they ended up passing the government stimulus package. But the reality is that it’s all still up in the air, and the last time we were on unemployment, it took nearly four months for it to start, so until we start getting checks, I’m operating under the impression that we have no income. Which, as you can imagine, does not improve my overall sense of impending doom.

We’re all healthy. Marc is probably at the highest risk, because he’s 50 and has diabetes. But he’s in good health, and works out all the time. Plus, we really go NOWHERE. I hit up the grocery store once or twice a week for perishables and milk, but other than that, we go for a lot of walks, and read, watch too much television and crochet. The kids are all holding it together. Sam panics at night, and has basically stopped sleeping thru the night altogether, which is not great. Jessie is still throwing herself into AP prep, and Julie is spending far too much time on tiktock and reading her way thru the Harry Potter series.

But we’re waiting. Waiting until people start dying, people we know, and the lock downs get more intense. Waiting until the warm weather comes, and praying that things get better.

Days are merging into each other. Each day is the same as the one before, with nothing to distinguish them. Nobody is going to school, nobody is going to work. We’re all here, all the time, going nowhere, and literally no plans for the future. Every three or four days, I venture out, go to the store, check for toilet paper (there isn’t any), look for fresh meat (there isn’t any of that either). I buy cereal and fresh fruit and vegetables, coffee and milk and cream and bread. Then I come back home, and try to figure out what to do next.

The girls have basically had everything cancelled. All of Jessie’s exams, SATs and AP test – they’re either cancelled or adjusted to a shorter, on-line version. The MCAS have been cancelled – which throws Julie’s acceptance into the GSA program I was hoping to get her into up in the air. Sam’s IEP is put on hold, so he’s not getting any services for vision loss any time soon.

We’re just at home. Waiting. I’m not sure if we’re waiting for people we love to die, for one of us to get it and play the odds that the five of us won’t get seriously ill because we’re all pretty healthy to start off. Waiting for the world to start back up, to buy our house, to start our lives again.