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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Bryant

Stinky Circle?

This circle of dead grass isn’t very pretty is it? I wish you could smell it… you know what dead grass smells like? At best it smells like a horse farm which may bring to mind pleasant images of majestic animals and beautiful barns and people in smart, crisp, groomed horse riding attire, kids at camp, etc. It may also actually smell like the slow death of millions of maggots or a marinade of crap and dead insects guts. Regardless, it stinks, whichever perspective you choose.

Stinks kinda like what this image represents to me. Quarantine started with a stay at home order. This was brutal for a lot of folks - granted. Change in job status, child care, schooling, family dynamics, I know, a lot of shitty stuff. We had our own challenges and opportunities to overcome adversity. I also know in the scheme of things that our household was inconvenienced, not devastated, I own my truth in that. We, in fact, were able to quarantine with 2 other neighborhood families. Our kids had playmates, we had drinking buddies, we all had outlets other than our spouse and social media. Sounds ideal, yes? A lot of it was - we even went in together and bought a blow up above ground pool for the kiddos to play in. It was fresh, it was new, it was fun, it brought the kids together and the parents too for that matter. It was a different "April" and it made us happy.

Eventually though, it needed more care than just a pool you could tip over and refill. The 3’ high walls and 15’ diameter held a lot of water. Over 3000 gallons - enough to need a bit of chlorine. And scooping, and vacuuming, and cleaning, and shocking, and then ph balance, and scrubbing, and then a full empty and restart. It needed the filter run daily. The filter was small and weak and seemed to lose it’s zest for the daily workload. Sometimes we would forget to run it and the pool would become algae infested and need extra care. You see where this is going, right? The filter and pool a metaphor for our daily lives and ups and downs….becoming over-worked and ignored and stressed to limits it could not sustain.

We became slack, the algae proved to be more than we could battle. The pool may have even had a slow leak. The kids became less and less enamored with the glory of the newness and lifestyle of “pool life.” The new, sharp edged cardboard box that delivered embodied all the hope and aspirations of a 9 yr old boy who just found out that school was cancelled (basically) and that he got to spend the next however many months (infinity and beyond in his mind) in his own backyard with his very own best friend. Fast forward 3.5 months later and the drooping pool sides filled with a very special shade of green water on top of dead grass that smelled that crap doesn’t have nearly the same appeal. So, we drained it and thought about cleaning it, then thought better of it and it all went in the trash.

The filter, the chemicals, all the time and effort and supplies and thought that went into the pool’s purchase and set up and care are all now in the landfill. Along with our hopes and dreams for a family-filled, craft built, art projecting, closet cleanout, garage organized, homeschool award winning, puppy adoption (my mom really wants me to write a puppy blog so maybe I will one day cause we got one too lol), fitness focused, meal prepping, mandated, quality time spent at home. I don't even think that's a sentence actually....sorry.

That all feels pretty much over now doesn’t it? Now all that’s left is the vacant, stinky circle of what we wanted, what it was, what it most definitely wasn’t, and what it will not be.

School has been decided for our district. All virtual. Until when? Who the heck knows. I rarely watch the news and the tidbits I do hear are brutal. Just today I heard someone from the CDC saying that winter of this year may very well be the worst yet - meaning that Santa and 2021 hold no gifts of relief for us this year.

I still have no idea how to manage work and homeschool in the best possible way for our kids. Are they coping ok? Is lack of socialization hurting my rising 8th grader who has ADHD and no phone (still) and struggles with friend connections past surface level? Is my rising 4th grader declining in his academic progress because he hates to read and has discovered Fortnite? I just don’t know the answers. I don’t know how to navigate and make the right decisions for everyone’s health and well-being. I know I miss family and my friends and hugs. I really truly miss hugging, you guys!!!

What saddens me the most about our current stinky circle is the notion that “we are all in this together” is now over. Everyone has stinky circles - yours may stink more than mine today or mine may be stinkier than yours tomorrow. Point being that we’re all well past whatever fun and different "April" phase we may have been in and we’re all making different decisions and have different levels of comfort on every level possible every single day. This makes me nervous and sad and worried.

How to wrap up this post….I’m not sure except to say that although our circles may be different or may still overlap I know that a lot of the time we will not always agree or be on the same page or make similar decisions, yet I do know that I will not give up on making an effort to understand, I will not judge (well maybe for a quick second I will then I will take it back), and I will give you space and grace to do what you need to do. That is what I can offer, and the assurance to others that we are making the best decisions that we possibly can for our small family in the best way we know how with the limited information that we have. May I ask the same in return?

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