Meltdown at 6pm


By Julie 

Wow, pandemic, right?

What’s your average day looking like right now? Because let me tell you. I don’t know what to tell you.

I get up feeling pretty good! About 6:30 I wake up, alarm doesn’t go off until 7. I enjoy my coffee alone and sometimes attempt to write, other times just sit. With a game on my phone. Chess. Sudoku. Cookie Jam. I alternate. Just to ease into the day. But if I can write, I do. Today, I did! But there’s just the creative black hole most mornings, no matter how good I feel.

I go to work, because I am essential in shipping infant and NICU products. I try to keep up with the few commuters who go 90 on the highway past the state troopers who won’t pull them over for fear of exposure. I pass two COVID emergency stations. I wear my mask all day. It smells. I am conscious of every single thing I touch. I know what I’ve touched at the end of the work day because I of course, clean it all with bleach. My work station, my pen, my clipboard, my tape gun, the table, the light switch, the doorknobs. We lock the doors so anyone looking to come in has to knock first and try to come in despite seeing the sign that says they have to have a mask on and wash their hands immediately. My incredible boss has a meeting with us every week to tell us how proud of us he is for coming to work with such good attitudes every day. And I really am thrilled to be there! I love my job, am endlessly grateful for it. But after a few hours in the same warehouse with intermittent contact with my coworkers, I’m freaking out inside. What if she didn’t wash her hands as well the fifth time as she did the first time? What if that order that came from upstairs got coughed on? The longer I’m here the greater the breakdown of the air quality. If I have the virus the more I’m near people the greater the opportunity to give it to them. I need to make interactions short as hell. 

So then I go home after not filling out my timesheet because I didn’t bring my own pen again, and then it’s time to homeschool. I shovel food into my face as the kids run down where they are with their work. I help them with the remainder–mostly it’s Sam with his writing (sparse) and his reading (dull) and doublechecking all his assignments. I try to do science experiments, get them outside for exercise, feed them and also get them to brush their teeth as well as have quality time and down time and do virtual therapist appointments and doctor checkups that require no less than three apps to complete. I read aloud from the book that’s actually interesting. We do this at least three times a day.

It’s not until about 6 at night that I get really irritable and have a quick cry.

I remember that we’re stuck together, all with our own brain stuff, and it’s HARD. Sam is coming off seasonal depression. There’s been a surge in OCD that has him drained. It’s pretty goddamn draining on all of us, truth be told.

As I write this, I have just botched logging the kids onto an Outschool class that we were pumped about, and I did it wrong so they missed half of it, while I tear up. They were there for a few minutes but just could not deal with it. Goodbye, Outschool fee. It’s 6:45 and I’ve reached and surpassed that melting point of the day.

So you’ve got me at my low point.

I get better.

I don’t know why I’ve written this except that I needed to SAY STUFF. Most of the day I’m happy! Happy that I have a job that matters, happy that my boss is understanding enough to be flexible and generous, happy to have the kids home where they’re comfortable and can learn at their own paces, happy that my husband’s hours are cut shorter and so we’re together every single night. Happy that we’re making good choices for our protection. Happy to try to run a book fair online for the elementary school kids, even though it failed. Happy to be healthy.

But it’s okay not to be happy all the time. All the feelings matter.

And it matters that I have this spot to speak about it. I hope it does something for someone out there.

Published by Julie Hutchings, Pretty Scary Author

I write scary stories with pretty insides. Mythology-twisting author and editor, reptile hoarder, coffee drinker, harpy. Author of The Vampires of Fate and The Harpy.

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