Day 1: On Mute

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“Working Mom Loses Mind Balancing Conference Calls and Cartoons”

I can see the headlines now, but somehow they don’t really tell the entire story. There’s a weight sitting on my chest these days, and I cannot tell if it’s the cold (?) I have not been able to shake since early February, or just the wheezing, incessant buzz of worry.

I am worried. Particularly on days like this one – Day 1 – of a school closure that could be extended indefinitely, when the clouds hang thick and low over the Upstate and I can’t even see my beloved mountains in the distance. My husband is annoyingly chipper on the phone because he is in an office where they are pretending to forget and it makes me so frustrated that I cry a little. Because sometimes when I am frustrated, I lash out and spew poison, but sometimes when I am frustrated, I just cry. And the weight on my chest gets just a little lighter and I realize this is how I will breathe.

I will cry. And then I will breathe.

I worked from home for nearly 3 years, 18 months of which with a baby. First a newborn, quiet gurggles and sweet nursing sounds muffled on mute during conference calls. Then a baby – squeals of delight and dirty diaper screams from the room down the hall at the end of his nap, still on mute. Then later, a toddler – still on mute, always rushing to grab him off whatever he was climbing or licking or drooling upon.

Always on mute.

I realize that I may live weeks or – God help us all – the next few months of my life on mute. And yes, I realize why. I realize why it could be necessary. To protect those with weaker immune systems. Those who are elderly. I realize all of that.

But what if things change. What if the playing field becomes more even and it starts to really hurt children beyond what we already know? What then? Cause really, let’s be honest: We don’t know fucking anything.

In 2019, I wanted to tell stories that nobody had heard about me.

In 2020, I suppose the best thing to do will be to take daily stock, catalog all the broken pieces, pray, wash my damn hands on repeat, yoga myself into a pretzel, and tell you what it all looks like when the haze lifts. But for today…

Mute.

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