Welcome home! Here’s some Covid-19.
I feel guilty for saying my life is easier now than it was two weeks ago. But it is.
Last week, when Joe Public panic-bought all the food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies in all the stores; when schools, restaurants, and pubs closed; when online sites trembled before imploding due to the unprecedented demand from cloistered customers; and on 23 March, my father’s 74th birthday, when the United Kingdom officially ordered lockdown to protect us from each other, my life was still easier than it had been.
I’m not surprised the UK finally ordered its shut-in – this should have happened weeks ago. If China is an example too extreme to contemplate, just look at Italy. And the United States, and New York in particular, is now the leading nation on all the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Britain isn’t far behind. Yet still, I smile. Despite these unprecedented restrictions, the ever-sobering news reel, and the barely concealed hum of terror coursing through my sister as she prepares for my ICU nurse brother-in-law’s inevitable self-isolation, my life is still easier. My husband is home.
He is not Superman. He didn’t return with a year’s stash of toilet paper smuggled in his helicopter. He doesn’t have extra hand sanitizer or respirators or ICU beds or even a face mask. In fact, he’s coming out the other side of being holed up for a week in the guest bedroom, suffering through seven months’ worth of germs my daughter and I have accumulated (it’s a cold; he doesn’t have any “classic” coronavirus symptoms). But he’s back. He celebrated British Mother’s Day with me through sniffles and an overly helpful toddler. He brought the trash out in his slippers. He’s made dinner more than a few times already. I no longer have to wait for a phone call from a ship that may or may not come through sometime in the late night before he heads to bed, exhausted. I no longer have to wonder if he’s in harm’s way again because tensions in the Middle East are peaking. I no longer have to count down the days. We’ve reached ground zero and we can resume our life pact as a team again. Even if that means being stuck in the same house for weeks.
Forced companionship: not exactly the homecoming leave we were expecting. We are, however, really good at giving each other germs, as I’ve got whatever I originally gave to him (sniffles, congestion). He’s had to head into work a few times already, despite having been away so long. The Navy takes what the Navy needs. (I understand, but I don’t agree.) For the time being, and while things are still quiet, we’ve decided to make the most of our lockdown restrictions:
1) get healthy,
2) cook good food,
3) spring clean like we mean it, and
4) potty train our toddler.
That’s right, we’ve decided to take the pants off, and we do mean OFF. Beaner turned 20 months old yesterday (when do we just say, “almost two”?) and we’ve been sitting her on the potty or a potty chair since she was six months old. For a while, we were those smug parents you love to hate – our kid is doing it! – and we thought she was just a natural. Sure, we got lucky on the timing, had great insights into when she might be ready for a pee or a poo, and had some pretty baller distractions (may I suggest a toddler abacus…). But, oh, retribution is a bitch.
31 March was Day One. We batted 50-50 (with an assist onto the potty when the farts proved she was about to blow). We thought we were on it, nakey bum and all. No great spills, no chasing the dog to leave the poo alone. Yesterday was more exciting. After the morning’s trifecta of pee puddles, we jointly came to the conclusion that maybe training underpants might be better than strictly naked bottom time. We suggested the potty, put her on two toddler potties and her toilet seat, showed her Bunny sitting nicely on the potty, and made many poop, pee, and toilet hand signs, but to no avail. We had exactly a dozen accidents, to most of which our dear daughter turned around (after letting loose Niagara Falls from her perch on the step stool/sofa/high chair) and cooed over with a surprised little squeak. It’s both funny and distressing every time.
We’ve been reading up on potty training. We have friends, family, and neighbors who’ve gone through the same tribulations. We have online forums and parenting websites at our fingertips. We still have many tools left in our potty arsenal. We still have plenty of hot water and laundry detergent. We have seven underpants with another five coming in the mail (there’s no panic-buying pull-ups, it seems). And we still have our patience, though that might be in short supply at the end of this week. We can do this.
I am always one to look for the silver lining in any scenario, but particularly the bad ones. My husband is home and, even sick, even with a potty training toddler, even with my own nose running freely, my workload is less.
I am thankful.