People are beginning to freak out here in Florida. Spring break was rudely interrupted by a global pandemic and vacationers have gone home in droves, leaving things here empty…including the shelves in the toilet-paper aisle. Unless they are facing a hurricane, people here are unaccustomed to seeing empty shelves at the grocery store, and the fear of want becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m hoping we look back at this and laugh at what we thought were emergency provisions, but it’s still too early to tell.
We were not always comfortable and complacent, fragile and fearful. All of us have immigrants in our ancestry—our forebears came to America with little more than the shirts on their backs. Our ancestors were used to discomfort, disease, and death. Faith in God, hard work, and community sustained them and helped them survive—not just the physical hardships of their lives, but the social and emotional ones, too. During many hard times in the last few centuries, people have relied on each other for survival, neighbor helping neighbor—sometimes in the form of churches and charities, but often person-to-person.
I am thinking a lot these days of those who are feeling isolated at home during this time of “social distancing” and quarantines. Aside from the economic repercussions of businesses closing, the cascading effect on families with thousands of children suddenly without the structure of school and extracurricular activities staggers the mind.
I am a homeschool mom of five, living on a sailboat. We make our own power, we desalinate water for drinking. I grind my own grain, I bake my own bread. We have an unusual kind of self-sufficiency in the modern world. I have a unique perspective on what it means to get cabin fever—and I feel sympathetic to all the parents out there who suddenly find themselves in my shoes—at home all day with stir-crazy kids. I chose the hard life of teaching my own children to read and do long-division, of cooking from scratch, of being in a small space with my family. Many of you have been thrust unprepared into this social situation. But you can do it. You can rise to the occasion. You can help your family survive this hard time. And you might even come out better and stronger.
I’m writing a series of pep talks, which you will find here. When you need a reminder to hang in there, or a word of sympathy, because I’ve been where you are (or will be)—crying and calling a friend from behind the closed bathroom door—I’ll be here. When life gives you lemons, it’s okay to pucker up initially, but eventually you’re going to have to sweeten the sour in order to drink it down.