What’s that thing, Mom?
Max, you know what that is.What’s it called?
That’s your bra.
Is it white?
Not exactly. This color is called, uh … nude.
Oh, nude. Mom?
Do you poop in your bra?
Social isolation, Day 17. In the kitchen, in the bathroom, in bed, on walks, my husband and I, plus our boys—Max, 2, and Finn, 5—are all alone, all together, all the time. These weeks have been wild and strange and exhausting. They have been many things, but chief among them is, I think, intimate. I picture the four of us exiting quarantine as a single, many-headed organism.
On Friday, March 13, the email arrived from my sons’ preschool, its subject line devastatingly simple: Closure. I put the phone down. I couldn’t quite bring myself to read the rest. I felt my incredible luck—the worst thing to befall me during this global pandemic, so far at least, was a state-mandated staycation with my favorite people on Earth. Still, a jolt of actual panic seized me. How would we make it through with no outings, no playdates, no relief?
How would I get any work done? This part answered itself almost immediately: At least initially, I wouldn’t. Within days, my freelance career dried up, every story in the hopper vanished—poof! As a financial hit, it was bad, but it could have been far worse. I was already set to begin work on a book, the contract for which remains intact (I checked). As an emotional hit, it felt heavier. Overnight I went from working journalist to homeschooling mom. Let’s be clear: I didn’t feel demoted. I felt deeply unqualified.