On Edge — Perpetual timeout: Making extreme sacrifices in a pandemic

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    Emily Green

    By Emily Green
    Special to The SUN

    My days before COVID-19 were busy. I juggled work and having four boys in a blended family, plus a husband. I was genuinely happy in my work. I worked really hard and threw myself into my work and the people I cared for. I spent time with my kids on the weekends and got pizza two times out of the week to feed my family. I followed the latest trend diets and my biggest concerns revolved around my bills and having enough money to have fun on the weekends. 

    My life was pretty darn easy. Then the news about the virus and its impact on our community was revealed.

    Suddenly, our kids weren’t in school, we had to wear masks everywhere we went, hand sanitizer was being used obsessively and there weren’t any toilet paper or paper products at the store. 

    We learned to live in constant fear of a virus and the death that it could bring upon our family and friends. 

    It was the buzz that I didn’t realize was going to become my life for many months to come. As the months dragged on, my family coped, compensated and collaborated on the next change, and then the next and then the next. We were constantly adapting. It was exhausting.

    All three of my older kids failed their spring 2020 semester. Their education was suffering because both parents in the home worked. 

    It was at this time I began pondering the ultimate sacrifice that I would have to make with the onset of the fall 2020 semester. It was inevitable, I was going to have to give up my financial security for the sake of my children’s education. 

    My anxiety wore on as the uncertainty of life’s future balanced on an uneven precipice. I was lost with so many others tasked with juggling their “essentialness to society and to themselves and their family.” 

    I ultimately came up with one final question. I was an essential worker, but was I able to be essential to myself and family? 

    My answer was no. I felt like a failure. I felt like giving up my job and staying at home to work on myself and my family was a failure. 

    I knew I wouldn’t be able to provide for my family in the way I had once before. I knew, however, deep down inside, that if I didn’t change something, that I would not be of use to anyone. 

    I did the unimaginable; I quit my job. I cried the day I left my job. The job that once and still did give me so much purpose was now going to be nothing but a distant memory. I was embarking on a new chapter in life. I was terrified to know what the coming months would bring. 

    Little did I know that I was about to be confronted with many hard truths and revelations concerning my family.

    Trying to find the meaning and my purpose at home those first couple weeks was proving difficult. Until I started to spend more time with my children, I didn’t realize before how little “time” I actually spent with them. 

    I didn’t realize how little I actually knew about them and their hobbies. I didn’t realize how much I dismissed them because I was stressed from work and life in general. 

    I felt like a horrible parent. I realized I hadn’t been a very good teacher to my children. I hadn’t given them the tools they needed to be successful in life because I was too busy chasing my own career. I had been selfish. 

    I justified my selfishness and measured it by the things I was able to buy for them instead of measuring it by the things that I was able to teach them. My kids were lacking the knowledge that I was supposed to pass down to them. 

    I have had a few weeks now to mend things and help shape my boys into the men they are going to be one day. I feel full of purpose. I can teach my kids to cook and bake. Teach them to use the potty, and say their ABCs and have the energy to be actually present in their lives. 

    Yes, we’re still struggling. It’s tough to spend so much time together, but it’s needed; it was needed far longer than I ever imagined.

    One day I will return to work and put these family matters back for a while, but until that day, I choose to be present. I choose to relish in the time I get to spend with my family. 

    This virus is awful and all of us have had to make extreme sacrifices. We don’t know the effects this will have on our society in the now or in the future. One thing is for certain in these uncertain times and that is this virus has forced us all to slow down, stop and smell the roses. We have been forced to ask for help from those we didn’t know we could and we have relied on those around us we thought we wouldn’t have to.

    We have all had to swallow a huge chunk of pride in finding the root of what matters the most. 

    However, in this personal and societal growth, this perpetual timeout, we gained so much more than what we lost. We’ve gained friends, l earned some new tips and have grown closer to those who matter the most, our family.

    If you’re struggling, help is available on Colorado’s crisis hotline. Call (844) 493-TALK (8255).