When There Isn't Space

Everyone has to decide on a risk tolerance.

watercolor desk in a dark room with a lamp with an edison light bulb giving light
Image created via Midjourney

When there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, and leaves a space.

-Naomi Shihab Nye, “Burning the Old Year”

In the category of “there are no good options,” we decided to only send Autumn to preschool for half days. By doing this, we can pick her up before lunchtime so she doesn’t have to remove her mask at all while she’s there.

Everyone has to decide on a risk tolerance. Over Christmas break, she constantly talked about her teacher and her friends. She loves preschool. We kept her home from March of 2020 to April of 2021, but it was different then. She was younger (two-and-a-half). Her brothers were home during the day for remote learning, so she wasn’t completely alone.

It’s different now too. Omicron is astronomically more contagious than the original variant that dominated the United States when we chose to send her back in April. Our household now enjoys some protection, with four out of five people vaccinated, but I know that Omicron could s(and probably will) still reach us.

So sending Autumn for a partial day, masked the entire time, seemed to be the middle ground. We could keep her home full time and try to juggle watching her with working during the day. She’d be miserable. And we could do everything by the book and still get infected—one of our older kids could bring Omicron home from school.

Having her home for only half of the day is hard. Ger drops her off in the morning and I pick her up at 11:30. He feeds her lunch and puts her down for a “nap” and I have the afternoon shift.

In trying to squeeze my job into fewer productive hours, the thing that flies out the window is time for myself. I write almost every day, but this week my writing time was absorbed by catching up on work from the day prior.

By the end of the week, I was disappointed with myself. I make a list every week of things I want to work on, and now I’m staring at my incomplete list. Could I stay up late, try to work in the evening? Not really. Sleep restores me. If I try to work when I’m tired, any task will take twice as long—particularly anything that requires my creative juices.

I am trying to tell myself that this won’t be forever. Unlike “the middle” part of the pandemic, there was no clear end in sight until the vaccine was announced. Now, I’m just waiting for approval of the vaccine for kids under 5. But I also know that we could (and probably will) face additional disruptions, like a quarantine due to exposure or testing positive for Covid.

I’m trying to be easy on myself, but it’s hard. Working on my own projects is immensely satisfying, and I don’t have that right now.