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Lessons in the ‘Groundhog’ Days of Quarantine

I feel much like Bill Murray’s character in the movie “Groundhog Day.”

For six weeks, my alarm has been set for the same time each day, chiming with a zen iPhone tone, which now seems just as annoying as the daily blare of “I Got You Babe” in the movie.

https://youtu.be/eTNgHo7UbmU

I rotate through a small variety of what I call “loungewear chic” outfits each day –  clothes that are comfortable yet put-together enough for a Zoom call.

I do the same workouts and consume the same breakfast – a green smoothie and decaf coffee- when I’m done. 

Being a creature of habit is multiplying the monotony of life right now.

Even my daily heated conversations are predictable:

“Have you done your homework.”

“Don’t say stupid!” and “Don’t talk back to me!”

“Are you wearing underwear today?”

Despite the mundane-ness of life, I know all of it is a blessing.  

Unlike Murray’s character, who goes on reckless benders knowing there will be no consequence, I have been pretty tempered in my Groundhog Days.  The wildest I get is a dessert in my grocery cart or a skipped workout.  

I, maybe like you, have been lucky enough to be sheltering at home since March. 

With lift orders starting across the country, I feel tenuous excitement and anxious anticipation about life returning to normal.  

I know my blessings are unlimited – everyone close to me is healthy; I have access to food; The option to work from home is available. I would never trade this position – or the memories. 

There have been so many magnificent moments during this time of family bike rides, friendships rekindled thanks to Zoom and a record number of snuggles. 

Yet, I am having difficulty processing this time. 

Homeschooling three kids is no joke. Working from home feels impossible. I feel cooped up.  We fight daily. I miss people – all of them.  I am tired of my own cooking and the lame options on TV.  My projects haven’t all gone so well. Despite being tethered to home, I can’t find spare time to organize a closet or drawer. I would trade a handbag for a little personal space or a yoga class.   

Yes, these are small, inconsequential discomforts. I write it anyway because it is my experience. They create stress. And it doesn’t feel good. 

Almost everyday I bark at my three children. I show impatience, fall off my eating intentions and leave much uncrossed on my to-do list.  I have been rude, loud and factually wrong often on the same day. My family has been the same.

Is there a psychological term for the space where you feel grateful, wise enough to know discomfort is temporary and yet still feel frustrated and grumpy at some point everyday? That’s the space I occupy.

Social media doesn’t help. Scrolling through my Instagram app, it is flooded with messages to seize the day or to “just love.”   

Sure, I love my Rachel Hollis posts.  But when I saw her husband, Dave Hollis, post to “CHOOSE JOY” everyday in green super effects – I got pissed off. Real pissed off. 

Because on the same day, my Kindergartner sought attention by kicking at my bedroom door for 20 solid minutes while I led a Zoom call on the other side of it.  Yes, kicking my door. His siblings begged him to stop because “Mom said she is doing a meeting and needs us to be quiet.” There was a scuffle, tears and then silence – all while I rattled off on Zoom.

Choose Joy? WTF. 

Reading economic forecasts and hearing stories from friends who are healthcare workers and running local businesses keeps me grounded. I care deeply about what is happening in the world and try to help. This is how I recalibrate myself. 

It is a similar recalibration Murray’s character goes through when he decides to better himself in light of being in the time loop, not to break out from it. 

He learns to play piano and does charitable deeds. Some events he can change, some he cannot.  But when he drops the resistance around his circumstances, his life changes.

From this 90s Hollywood tale, we can apply something to our quarantine life now. 

Instead of greeting the wind chime ringtone with dread, I can arise knowing I can “redo” the day better with the people I care about most.  I can drop the underwear and homework inquisitions. I can shrink my to-do list. I can try a different tactic with the ‘sass talking.’

My day may still involve tears and kicking at the door.  Those may be inevitable.

But I know, only if I am blessed, will I get another chance at it tomorrow.

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