Instead of rehashing the ways this situation has ramped up in the last day — my employer officially urging everyone to work from home until the end of March; church canceled for some extended period of time; etc. — I’m going to focus on things I’m thankful for in this situation. Because, frankly, this situation has brought these into focus much more sharply than in regular life.
Thankful for our jobs.
It’s easy to focus on what we don’t like, but right now I appreciate having a job I can do from home. My boss generally doesn’t like us working from home — he feels, rightly I think, there are some things you just need to do in person. But since my employer has asked everyone who can work from home to do so, I deeply appreciate that both Ian and I have a white-collar information industry jobs that we can do from pretty much anywhere that has an internet connection.
This takes on particular importance with schools canceled. We keep earning our paychecks, paying our mortgage, buying groceries — work gets more difficult, but everything else can carry on.
I think now of all the families whose wage-earners can’t work from home. In particular, I think of service industry workers who get paid hourly and for whom not working means not getting a paycheck. Those families would already have been struggling to make ends meet in the expensive Seattle-area economy. Now not only will they have to figure out the expense of unexpected childcare during school hours, but if they were getting free or reduced lunches, that’s unanticipated breakfasts and lunches to provide. And if they don’t get childcare, there’s staying home and not getting paid.
In short — we have a lot to be thankful about right there. Especially the second thing:
Thankful for family support.
Particularly, how my mom has stepped up to do Nana School three days a week during the time Benji’s school remains closed. Each day she has a plan for doing reading, writing, math, PE (swimming at the Y!), social studies, science, and more. Frankly, it’s probably a much more comprehensive education than Benji would be getting in his normal first grade classroom.
So I’m deeply thankful for the fact that both my parents and Ian’s parents (to an extent) are available to do some days or part days during the school closure weeks.
Just because I can work from home to be physically present when Benji is home doesn’t mean I can parent as actively as normal. I’m responsible for working during that time, and if our parents couldn’t take Benji, he’d probably end up doing a combination of bored tearing the house apart and a zillion hours of videos or other screen time. That’s going to still happen, but at least it’ll be way less than if Ian and I had to try to “work” from home while also “watching” Benji.
Thankful for our health.
So far we all remain healthy, and everyone we know has remained healthy. We haven’t started wiping surfaces constantly or anything, but we have substantially upped the handwashing intensity and frequency. Benji’s nose remains a faucet, but fortunately coronavirus doesn’t cause a runny nose — that’s just normal winter seasonal nose-running. Even if we do get sick, we’re all generally healthy with every expectation of quick recovery.
I hope we remain so. But no matter what happens, I’ll focus on remaining thankful for the many, many blessings we don’t normally even think about every day.