It’s been three weeks since COVID-19 has directly affected our community. The Austin area is now sheltering in place, and I have never been so grateful to find a four-pack of toilet paper at the grocery store (shoppers are limited to one package each). I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions, from anxious to thankful, and every feeling in between.
My husband, now working from home, set up a make-shift office in our master bedroom on a rickety card table from the garage. He tells me it’s one of the nicer set ups as compared to other co-workers who texted their work-from-home spaces, but I’m not so sure.
My kids are attending what I call Griffin Academy. It’s not homeschool for many reasons. It’s doing the best we can with resources provided to us, sharing technology devices, and trying to gauge every family member’s emotional needs above the kids’ academic needs. I call it coviducation.
I’m trying to finish the final edits on my book and plan for a book launch and release date when the months ahead look more ambiguous than ever before.
This is Coronavirus 2020.
The word that keeps surfacing over and over is cope. Part of me thinks, “Cope? Are you really in such a low place that you need to cope?” I think about my fellow human beings worldwide who are suffering terribly, and I feel selfish that I even need to cope.
Sure, I’m stressed about rationing our eggs and getting the virus. Yes, schooling my children during a pandemic for an indefinite amount of time is daunting. Yeah, being with four kids and my husband under the same roof 24/7 feels claustrophobic for an introvert who relishes her alone time. I feel a bit lonely since I can’t meet with my church family on Sunday mornings and talk face-to-face with my friends.
Yet others around our nation and globe face greater difficulties.
Do I have the need, or even the right, to cope?
I decided to look up the definition:
1) to struggle or deal, especially on fairly even terms or with some degree of success
2) to face and deal with responsibilities, problems, or difficulties, especially successfully or in a calm or adequate manner
Coping = dealing with difficulty
Coping involves a struggle, an encounter. Am I face-to-face with responsibilities, problems, or difficulties? Yes, yes, and yes. I breathe in deep, validated that I not only have the right to cope, but I need to. Comparing my lot to another to justify difficulty is unhealthy. I feel what I feel, just as you feel what you feel. We are all coping with problems of the pandemic.
In coping, we need to be kind to ourselves.
We are all in uncharted waters, and how you navigate probably looks different than your family members, friends, and neighbors. Also, how you cope will most likely change with the tide.
Remember, to name something brings it out of the dark. So saying (if only to yourself, but even better if to a friend) that your current situation is undefined, unwelcome, and unsettling shines light into those dim corners, giving hope a chance to flicker.
Coping is not perfection
The definition says, “with some degree of success,” not with complete success.
Now more than ever, we need to extend ample grace to ourselves and our families, considering how we might relax the rigid lists, pause from productivity, and reframe our routines. These are uncharted waters, so there’s no formula for “success.”
Coping is not copying
Let’s not insert that little “y” into the word, ok? Coping does not equal copying—looking to someone else for how they are dealing with this difficulty. We can look to others for help and encouragement, but they are not our compass. . . God is.
I think this especially applies to parents as we find ourselves with the responsibility of educating our children at home.
- Some of us don’t like teaching. Some of us love it.
- Some of us may enjoy teaching other kids, but not our own.
- Some of our children love learning from us. Some of them don’t.
- Most of us are trying to juggle this added responsibility while working from home with a spouse working from home too.
- Some of us are struggling with this new role thrust upon us. Some of us are doing ok with it. Sometimes, it depends on the day.
This pandemic is difficult for students, parents, teachers, and school districts.
This pandemic is also difficult for business owners, employees, those in leadership, those who volunteer, the working, the retired, and healthcare professionals (the stress facing those in the medical community is beyond my comprehension — thank you to all of you on the front lines caring for the sick in your community).
Wherever you find yourself in the description above, your coping does not equal copying someone else. Your personality, children’s personalities, and home dynamics are unique. And we are all doing the best we can in a pandemic, which we’ve never done before.
Part of my personal practice of coping is putting words on a page. I’m not a pandemic expert, but I do process life through writing about it. I hope this piece has encouraged you in some small way today. Isn’t it wonderful that we can connect through technology in such a time of isolation?
Through the highs and lows of today,
here are 3 things for you to consider as you cope:
1. I have a right and need to cope because I am dealing with difficulty.
2. How I cope will not be perfect, but I will do my best to deal with my difficulties in a calm and adequate manner.
3. Coping is not copying others; the world is coping collectively, and I am coping individually.
Save, share, or send this article.