Day 42 : Control

Today brought some unexpected challenges to my controlled world of quarantine.

First and foremost it showed me that mostly I’m enjoying quarantine because for the first time in six years I have started to feel like an expert at my own life.

Plenty of things feel a little out-of-control when you move to a foreign country. I was lucky because I had built-in family and friends when I arrived. I had people to help me navigate. I had someone to look out for all those super-challenging (especially in a second language) getting settled things like paperwork and financial planning and health insurance. But when you have someone to take care of those things, it means you aren’t taking care of them for yourself. It means you’re not making as many strategic decisions as you might otherwise and that maybe you don’t fully understand the system in which you’re now immersed. After the initial decision to move to Germany, a variety of other decisions and circumstances caused me to become dependent. A possibility whose ramifications I honestly had never considered.

So two kids and six years later here we are a the beginning of our 7th week in quarantine. Our family of four has a rhythm now. We are actually sharing some family responsibilities for the first time and because of the quarantine when making decisions we only need to consult each other. In many ways the quarantine has simplified our lives. We’ve gotten better at communicating and at being considerate. We are more the partner kind of parents I always imagined we’d be.

Then today started. For various reasons I decided to postpone my normal morning routine (If you are mom and you are lucky enough to have a morning routine, don’t ever do this, even when it seems selfish. Just stick with your routine and work the other things around it.) I’m serious. A few minutes to gather myself before the day starts truly makes me better at fielding the 20,000 questions that come at me as soon as I open my eyes.

The only thing on the agenda today was dinner with Oma (Grandma.) We were ordering from a local restaurant and for the first time in six weeks she was joining us to eat at our house. (Socially distant of course.) My plan was to spend the entire day working on a garden project until the last minute when I would come inside to do a quick tidy-up before dinner.

Because of a communication glitch it turned out that we were having lunch with Oma instead of dinner and I needed to spend what was left of the morning getting the house cleaned up. I was very upset at this development– Lunch, I thought, would interfere with Little Bean’s nap time and was inconvenient for plenty of reasons.

I lost it. I was so angry. I felt resentful about the cleaning. I felt all the old frustrations that I used to feel about my every day life before this quarantine rush right back at me. Has nothing actually changed? I thought.

Looking back 12 hours I think it’s fair to say that I overreacted. But I understand that it was because of fear. Fear that what we’ve gained during this time could be so easily lost. And it was about control–me suddenly not feeling like I had any.

As things have a way of working themselves out, today turned out much better than expected. Having lunch together was likely better than having dinner. Little Bean had no problem going down for her nap. The house was clean (well at least a part of it) which was nice and I got to spend the whole afternoon on my garden project while Oma and Daddy hung out with the girls. (By the way–having a project while hanging out with my mother-in law-is something I’m going to try again. It’s a great distraction. It kept me present but I didn’t have to interact sooo much. Something to think about for those of you who might have a mother-in-law who could be described as a lot to handle.)

The best part of today was that I got to see the gains in communication we’ve made in action. They did not disappear at the first sign of stress. We really are more of a team now than we were before and we really do consider each other more now. We were able to laugh at things that happened today and not take them so personally.

These things sound small, I know. But the big picture of our lives is made up of a million tiny snapshots, facial expressions and moments. It isn’t only this virus that we have to worry about as the world tries to open up again, it’s us too. How we will personally navigate the shift back to a more social lifestyle? How will it work when we have to consider a variety of opinions and demands on our time?

Until tomorrow,

P.s. Here are the details of the garden project. Today I completed a small pathway made out of stone. I collected the stones from all over the yard and used left over gravel from a failed project so I didn’t have to spend any money. It took 134 stones and 1,5 bags of gravel and about 4 hours. Placing the stones took the most time. I wanted to do more curves but it ended up fitting better following one curve around like circles radiating out from a point. The purpose of the path is to give me a place to stand while I’m watering the vegetables this summer without making a muddy mess. Most of the vegetables will be in the concrete containers that are a part of the retainer wall under our deck.


2 thoughts on “Day 42 : Control

  1. Hi Laurie, I haven’t read your column for a long time and you have traveled a great distance in your life w your husband’s mother and the German culture. I give you immense applause for going all in with your commitment. Hearty Congratulations! You are a fully qualified and participating married German citizen. You have a strong marriage to a kind, loving husband and many years of happiness ahead. You have obviously earned this status through your huge and steady consistent efforts. And you have two adorable daughters! You have the best things in life and in your home.
    Kathe and I have that kind of life too after 52 yrs and a son (Andy 45) and daughter, Jean (43). We have “almost” four grandkids, Noah James (10) and Rumi Eliana (7) from Jean and Josh. Also Ewan Grey (18 months) and “Daisy” our nickname for our new granddaughter also from Son, Andy and his wife Sophie due
    In June. What a happy time for us all w so many blessings!!!
    I could go on and on! Be thankful and enjoy! Kathe and Jim McClellan…


    • Hi Jim, thanks you so much for continuing to read my stories and for sharing your observations and experiences with me. I wish the best of everything for you all. Much love, Laurie


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s