Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Virtual this, virtual that

Makeshift virtual school in session

I see another invitation to a virtual class on a Slack channel at work, this time it's on sketchnoting, whatever that is. (Clearly, I didn't attend that one.) This was one among many, many videos shared internally by well-meaning IBMers, who created them to help the rest of us stay positive, healthy, creative, you name it. I'm joining a kickboxing class tomorrow, led by the CMO of North America Marketing (how awesome is that?!) And I had a rare morning open (actually, I had to reschedule a meeting for this) and got to enjoy a virtual class on how to grow succulents successfully, taught by a guy who sat on my floor at work. (Note to self: need to check out the beautiful plants on his desk when we get back to the office.)

But when do we get back to the office? Million-dollar question indeed. Right now, they're projecting early June. My girls' school will delay opening to May 4th. But they've already moved that date three times. I suspect my 11-year-old will never have another class again in her beloved elementary school, and my heart breaks a little for her.

More weeks at home. More virtual this and virtual that. More digging into our well of positivity. (Won't it eventually run out?) We've got this, I announce and smile at my family, projecting a cheeriness I barely possess myself. But what choice do I have? We'll keep to our schedule, continue our daily walks, get our sunshine, find more ways to have fun, and stay connected. And do our best to remember gratitude and grace.

Daily family walk after lunch

Apparently, those are easier to follow when I had a manageable workload. Last week, when several projects appeared out of thin air and dropped deadlines from the sky, keeping my family's COVID-care routine became another burden. There are only so many hours in a day, but parenting doesn't yield to work deadlines. Or vice versa.

But something has to yield, right? Turns out, that something was me.

For someone who takes pride in getting shit done at work and at home, it hit me hard when I realized I was just not going to be able to do it all. I had to swallow my pride and force myself to ask for help at work. And I reluctantly pushed back on a deadline--something I almost never do. I also had to depend on my family to step into the parts I normally played at home.

And you know what? Everything turned out just fine.

It was an important realization for me that, when given the chance, others do show up for you. When given the opportunity to shine, they will, and they do so happily and brightly.

Not only were my coworkers not disappointed in me for admitting I might not be able to deliver, they jumped right in to share the burden. One even took it upon himself to complete my part of the project without my asking.

Unsurprisingly, my husband swooped right in and kept the family engine going. He prepared the meals and kept the girls on task. He kept me fed and hydrated. He kept me sane. And even seated ergonomically so my neck and wrists wouldn't hurt.

My girls would occasionally come by my desk and declare how proud they were of me just to cheer me on. Sometimes, they'd bring me candy. Because they're sweet like that.

It's the little things, they say, but they all add up. On a week like this, it meant the world to me.

* * *

What we're reading now.
I fell in love with Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, when I read it for a college class over 20 years ago. It felt like a good time to read it again, especially when the title so aptly describes these long days of social isolation.

Big Girl is enjoying every bit of her tweendom, especially now that I've allowed her to venture into teen and adult books--at least ones I've read and know she can handle. She's on the last book of the "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" YA series, right on the heels of the "Crazy Rich Asians" trilogy, which she devoured in a week.

She can go for hours

The little one is on book four of the Percy Jackson series. Thankfully, the once reluctant reader is voraciously tearing through those pages, giving us long stretches of quiet time throughout our day. Yes, it's definitely a positive outcome of this dreadful crisis.

What we're playing.
Thanks to a friend who introduced it to my family on a camping trip, we've been into Monopoly Deal these days. It moves a lot faster than regular Monopoly, and there's actual strategy involved. I'm not usually a fan of long, complicated strategy games. I already juggle several things in my head at once, I don't need something else forcing me to think. This game is just complex enough to be interesting, and short enough for post-dinner entertainment. Tonight, I finally won a round. And commemorate it I must. It's my blog, after all...

Someone's not too happy she didn't win, but look at all the properties I got! 

The highlight of our week.
Surviving each week of isolation from the world always feels like a win. But after an especially long, hard week a special treat was in order. We unanimously decided to drive 16 miles to pick up our favorite food from Taste of Ethiopia on South Congress. The deserted streets of a once-bustling city on a Saturday evening was not lost on us as we made our way past empty parking lots and shuttered stores to get our food from a shell of a restaurant. Then we (quickly) drove the 16 miles back, our mouths watering from the aroma of kitfo and key siga wot, our bodies tremulous from the excitement for our impending feast. All the while, grateful that this was still possible, yet fearful that our favorite place might not survive this harsh new economic reality.