Broken Agreements

The second full week of social distancing/shelter in place/covid-19/whatever this time is called started out on the rough side. Early on I realized that I am more introverted than I thought, and that I had some hard moments with the high amount of togetherness. I continue to have thoughts about wanting everybody to relax and other thoughts about not being lazy or wasting time. Wanting and needing time alone but not sure how to achieve that. Feeling guilty about relaxing, and feeling bad about making people do stuff. Confusing.

With all these conflicting thoughts, I talked with one kid in particular about some duties they have been slow to complete. It was a hard conversation with lots of frustration on both ends. We worked out a system-ish thing to get the desired duties done. It was about 10am. Lots of day ahead. So I started working in the yard clearing some long neglected overgrowth. Kids grudgingly agreed to come outside and put the clippings into lawn bags, maybe clear some weeds from the patio. Their reluctance was hard for me.

After about 5 minutes of bagging of weeds, one kid became particularly emotional, and kept saying it was because their hands were cold. Very close to completely losing my patience, I pulled them aside and tried to find out what was going on. I knew this strong reaction was not just about cold hands, and felt irritated that such a small job would be associated with so much drama.

Referring to our earlier conversation, they were mad that I asked them to do this when their understanding about our plan for the day was completely different. “I feel like you broke an agreement!” they said, and “I don’t like broken agreements!”.

Ok. Now we are getting somewhere. Drama is warranted, young one. Many many many many “agreements”, formal or otherwise, have been broken by the situations resulting from this terrible virus. I had a loose agreement with the school system that kids would be busy for 6ish hours per day so I could work sometimes on grading and class prep in a quiet house. My husband and I had a loose agreement that while he was working from home already, I would often be out of the house working as a postpartum doula. I never agreed to getting all these “family prepping” spam emails, WTF? My kids had agreements about meeting up with friends, school projects, middle school musical, time with their grandma, spring baseball, and so forth. All gone. So many expectations abruptly changed.

While this felt like an eye opening pivotal moment, it was not like some permanent resolution for my family. We are still figuring out appropriate agreements about how to spend our time. They need to be renegotiated periodically. We continue to realize old agreements were broken and grieve some of those more than others.

Remember the puzzle that we were working on feverishing, during week 1? , Well, the map of the world is complete. The pieces are all together. We are resisting taking it apart. I don’t want anything else to come apart. The world is in a rough state as it is. Also, we are (no so patiently) waiting until sometime in April for our next puzzle to arrive. We all seem to agree that the puzzles are helping to keep things together around here.

A couple days ago, some poison ivy rash arrived on my chin. It probably started to take hold on the drama fillled gardening morning. The overgrowth was neglected for a good reason. Now it is very clear that I can’t seem to follow through on the constant advice to not touch my face. More adjusting, ugh.

I wish you whatever you need to get through these changing agreements and adjustments!