There is so much contrast between how each of us is experiencing this COVID19 shut down. I’m sitting at my breakfast table watching my grandchildren play in the backyard now that the weather has turned spring like here in Flagstaff. I have already placed a grocery delivery order his morning before 8 and updated it 3 times with input from my daughter. Every morning she prints out work sheets for her 3 children and hopes they will nap at my house so she can have some “me-time”. I put clothes on early today relative to yesterday when I didn’t get dressed until 4 pm.  I joined a video chat at 6 yesterday and I laughed at myself for preparing to see a small group of friends via technology by vacuuming my rugs.

Every night at 9 last week, I hosted an AZAFAP Happy Hour via our ZOOM account. No agenda, no intent, no structure, no plan; just a chance for foster, adoptive and kinship parents to see understanding faces and compare notes and coping strategies. It has been amazing to hear their stories. One parent has described her child’s difficulty coping with this development. He is angry and verbally abusive of her. Another parent talked of the relief that a child unable to respond to all the efforts made to help her accept a place in their family has moved on to live with a biological relative. Both families are bringing their best game to this challenge. Both families know that by taking care of themselves, by knowing their own capacities and limitations and by reaching out for support they can face each new day with hope that their families will endure and possibly even thrive in these odd circumstances.

Jenna brought us all to tears with her experience with her 8-year-old daughter whose anxiety whenever she has to leave home is a debilitating source of stress for her and those who love her. All this togetherness has freed her of the need to encounter strangers and given Jenna the chance to find out how very funny she is. Another J talked about realizing she now has time to teach her 5 girls how to cook their favorite dishes. To a person, each spoke of being grateful to have another adult to talk to but being pleased with how well the family had adapted to all this change. I was envious of how much toilet paper they all had.

I would describe my emotional state as on a roller coaster. Though early on I spent considerable time researching and learning about the pandemic, now I find I need a news break. I carry on fairly contentedly until something strikes me and I let myself become fully aware of the horrific possibilities of this moment. I’ve realized how fortunate I am to be so close to grandchildren whose parentstook this shut down very seriously even before life was officially snapped shut.

I also have become much attuned to my friends who live alone. They lived alone last February, too, but now I realize how hard it is to be alone when fear lurks in the most mundane places like cell phones and door knobs.

I hope you are continuing to take care of yourself and if you find yourself needing to see a friendly adult face, consider joining us at 9 pm for Happy Hour or at 7 am daily for our Coffee Chat with your beverage of choice, of course. Check your email for the ZOOM link. It is easy and free to download the ZOOM app on your device but be warned, you’ll probably have to claim the household bandwidth by throwing everyone else off for that hour.

Thanks for listening. Take care of yourself.

Cathy