Now that we’ve been in physical distancing mode for a few weeks, I’m trying to get out of bunker mentality and figure out how to live like this for a while. Depending on who you ask and which theory of the the testing numbers they subscribe to, we could be doing this straight through for a year or more, or we could be doing it in waves for a while.

There’s been a weird impulse to engage in pre-nostalgia for this time, with lots of preachy memes about the value of everyone slowing down and cooking more and spending time with their families, and children looking back on this time as an extended summer vacation, and just… gross. This is a crisis caused in large part by a failure of political leadership. It didn’t have to be this way. I plan to hold our national leadership accountable for that failure in any way I can.

And yet. We have this enforced time at home together whether we want it or not. While I feel a certain sense of responsibility to stay angry about it, it’s also my job to help keep the family running, and to ensure my son feels safe and protected. So it would not be the worst thing if he grows up and remembers long afternoons playing with LEGO, reading books, making pizza dough with Dad, and taking family bike rides.

So I’m giving myself a break on anything I can. I’m only emphasizing some basic skills practice for school, plus the video calls so he can feel connected to his teacher and classmates. Reading books and acting out elaborate stories with his toys is plenty of exercise for his mind at this age.

I’m trying to add what I can, too. I try to eat breakfast and/or lunch with the fam. I’m trying to prioritize getting out on my bike as much as possible, even though my grand designs of picking Charlie up from school and taking him and his friends to the playground on it are on hold. I’m doing Zoom happy hours with friends (but not too many, because we overdid it that first week and it was exhausting). I’m trying to get more outdoors time, at least before the mosquitos start showing up.

And I’m resisting (loudly at times) the urge to ratchet up the precautions and the sanitizing of every possible surface and the shaming others for not social distancing to some arbitrary standard of “correctness.” Not because people shouldn’t Clorox wipe their Amazon boxes if it really makes them feel better, but because this performative “I’m being SO much more careful which means I will be extra safe, and therefore I need YOU to do the same thing” behavior is counterproductive and anxiety-inducing for everyone else. We have to live like this, possibly for a long time. We cannot do that if we are constantly worried if we’re doing enough, perfectly enough, to say 100% safe.