As of this afternoon, Houston is under a shelter-in-place order. At our house, we’ve essentially been living this way since last week, so nothing is changing for us, practically. However, it feels more confining.

Despite the girls getting lessons from school and now having video conferences with their teachers and classmates, I’m finding myself constantly interrupted. Oddly, this time reminds me of my first maternity leave. When our elder daughter was born, I had these grand plans for what I would do while I was “off” from work for three months. I will pause for you to laugh maniacally. The aftermath of childbirth and my daughter’s first few months were a T. S. Elliott poem incarnated. April truly is the cruelest month. Entire days would go by and all I could think of was that I began and ended the day in the same clothes, hadn’t showered, and had accomplished nothing all day other than keeping the creature alive. All my preconceived notions of what constituted productivity were shattered. Interruption became the norm, rather than the exception. Unable to concentrate for any prolonged period on anything (other than feeding, which took about six days per session, or so if felt), I gave up on the idea of counting completed tasks as a measure of success and moved, instead, to more intangible indicators. My new system was less transactional and more transformational. Instead of trying to do it all myself, I started asking for (and accepting) help graciously.

I’m seeing parallels between that time and now. My recovery timeline, which was always more of an aspiration than a prophesy, has been knocked off course again, the first time being when I had to switch psychiatrists and therapists back in January when I started my leave of absence. I don’t know when I’ll have my medication figured out. There’s no way to circle a date on my calendar and say that’s when things will go back to normal. Although I’ve known all these things intellectually, admitting the reality of them is hard.

Success for me, right now, is like it was in those early days of parenthood. There is neither a manual nor a scoreboard. I cannot “win” quarantine. What I can do is keep going, reaching out, asking for help, and offering support to others. It’s enough.

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