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Coronavirus, Connection, Conversation, and Carbohydrates

Coronavirus, Connection, Conversation, and Carbohydrates

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - April 9th, 2020

Today Joanne is sharing her Surviving Sudden Homeschool life, three weeks in and almost finding her stride. Joanne and Karen are hosting 2Moms@Home on Monday nights. Be sure and sign up for this NEW live event. Then stop in with your favorite drink and meet us there in-person for a little adult conversation!

Communication and connection. Trapped inside this snowglobe of virtual classrooms and social distancing the unthinkable has happened. Someone decided to bring back chain letters! In the space of 4 days I have received no less than 5 of them. Confession time here: I was never a chain letter person. I would like to say it’s because I was always confident in myself and believed that these chain letters were filled with false promises, but I am honest enough with myself to recognize that it’s simply because I am, at heart, too lazy to care about them. I am old enough to remember when you were required to write them out individually in order to avoid never finding love or the cruel 5 years of bad luck. Now these letters are wanting me to share my favorite recipes, poetry, quotes, and happy memories. Sure it’s easy to cut and paste, send and check off the list. But as I see these pop into my inbox at an alarming rate, I cringe, and am convinced that, despite my current circumstances, I am still not a chain letter person. What I am is a selectively-social person missing my people.


I used to have all of my best friends’ phone numbers memorized. My mom never understood how I could spend all day at school and still need to be on the phone with Jodie, Kelly, Amy or Rachel for hours after school. We would talk, analyze the boys we liked, laugh over inside jokes, and occasionally do homework together while keeping the only landline to our busy household busy all night. When call-waiting came along, the only thing that changed was which friend I would have to put on hold and for how long. My life is very different now and so is my definition of conversation. An occasional text to “check in” with any of my friends and family counted as connection in my eyes. The same “too busy” or “too tired” ballad of regrets rang out when I would consider taking the time to call someone. I am very guilty of calling people on my walk from the subway to my home, knowing full well that the 13 minutes I had, was JUST enough time for a quick catch up but also guaranteed that I had an easy out once I reached the chaos inside my front door. Sometimes I would see a call coming in and think, “That is an hour I don’t have to give. I’ll just send a text to make sure they’re ok.” Well, guess who suddenly has that elusive hour?

Conversation Chains

Balancing the many roles I’m playing in this current production of “this is my life” means I am still busy, but now I’m very open to dropping out of the show for an hour to host a deep discussion on life as I see it, or ramble down memory lane with old friends and family members. I am making a concerted effort to pick a name from my contacts of someone I haven’t had a real conversation with in years, each day, and check in. I have had such wonderful conversations the past few weeks, reconnecting with people who made an impact on my life, rediscovering the inside jokes that we share, and laughing together through this crazy time. Since we are all in the same small space, I have now brought my children into the fold, translating the secret language of time shared with them, and letting them see how valuable it is to have those people in your life who share experiences, humor, and maybe the occasional recipe with you. This is how I want to spend our “free time.”  These are the chains I want to build and maintain.

Quarantine Quandaries

I am thinking a lot about philosophy lately, especially regarding time. Abstract or not, as I watch Monday melt into Thursday, I simultaneously loathe and am grateful to Google classrooms and virtual classrooms for giving us all structure. The repeated nature of our days has been wearing on all of our nerves. My husband, being the only one to ever leave the home, is the only one who seems to be oblivious to the monotony of the quarantine. It’s disgusting. My irrational frustration at his indifference to quarantine is palpable. Last night, he had the nerve to turn to me with a giant smile on his lovely face and say, “I’m really enjoying quarantine. The roads aren’t busy, we’re always here for dinner together, and the kids seem so happy to play with me!” My mother used to try to convince me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say I shouldn’t say anything at all. I don’t always remember that when the blood is rushing to my ears.


Carbohydrates and the At-Home Classroom

My oldest has been turning in his math and vocabulary pages on a regular basis, while my little one has been procrastinating every assignment sent her way. It took us three days to write 3 paragraphs to nominate her favorite book. Her teacher is gentle and considerate, reminding families that connection to each other is as important as connection to the curriculum, and I am so very thankful for that. I can’t lie though – the rose has lost its bloom. Trying to keep motivated right now is more challenging than I had anticipated. We are all looking, and easily finding, distractions from our path. We have arranged and rearranged the bedrooms and living room. We have organized closets and pantry shelves. We haven’t quite worked up the strength to clean out the garage, but we have been getting our little flower bed ready for the seedlings we’re watching grow on our windowsill. We have worked on the various gifts the kids have received of crafts and science experiments. We have read, we all took a core-building, abs-aching “Off-ice Conditioning Class” with my daughter’s skating coach, and we have baked. Oh, have we baked. The cinnamon rolls, the cookies, the muffins, and banana breads we have made and consumed these past few weeks is a testament to our creativity, while I try to turn cravings into a science class.

Light at the End

I try to keep injecting unique and enjoyable activities into our daily routine, but am having difficulty seeing the light at the end of this homeschool tunnel. I am in need of a break from the incessant pressure of “keeping up” with the class and wondering if we missed a virtual meeting with one of the teachers. I am tired of emails from the school and department of education telling me that we’re in this together. I am emotionally exhausted from trying to keep our spirits and our school morale up. I want to pack a lunch for my kids and know that they are either sucking it up and eating it, or mastering their negotiation skills by offering to trade for what they really want from a friend. THIS is why it felt like a punishment to take away Spring Break. We need to reconnect with our desire in order to keep doing this distance learning thing. I think, like bathing suit season, it helps me to have a goal in mind. I may not meet that goal exactly as I had hoped, but at least I know it’s coming. Finishing out this school year at home may be our reality, but like my bathing suit, it doesn’t matter how it fits, but how I feel in it. I want my kids to feel proud of what they accomplished, proud of how they persevered, and proud that they know how to make a delicious cinnamon roll.

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