This week’s tale comes from one of our wonderful St. Martin’s school teachers, Alison Zukowski.
When I first learned that Spring Break was going to be extended by another two weeks, I had mixed emotions. I admit that part of me felt happy to have a little extra time off with my family. The other part of me felt that the time off was for the wrong reason and hard to feel excited that we COULDN’T (even if we wanted to) go back to work and school because of this dangerous virus. I had a sinking feeling that it could be longer because I also teach Chinese children ESL online and knew that my students have been quarantined since December. As expected, the stay at home order continued to be extended.
I realized that I had two choices on how this experience could be for my family and I. The first option would be to be resentful and angry (and other negative emotions mixed in.) The second option was to see this time as a precious gift from God to slow down and use this time wisely because it is not often that life as we know “pauses” for us to catch our breath. I believe that your perception of things becomes your reality. I’ve decided on the positive approach since I cannot change the circumstances.
So, what has that meant for my family and I? How does quarantine look for us? Well, for one thing, most of us get to sleep in! My husband mainly works from home, so not much changed for him other than his business travels ceased and he is forced to take vacation pay while the defense industry rides the wave of this. I miss my preschool students at St. Martin’s terribly, but I have found new ways to connect through our Zoom meetings and sending out weekly e-mails with lesson plans and activities. I have also recorded me singing some of our favorite songs from our music classes for the students to sing along with. My kids are playing badminton in the backyard (and playing way more online games than I would normally allow!) I have seen more neighbors from the front yard than I ever have since we moved here in 2012 – winning! In fact, my husband and I sit on the FRONT porch in the evenings now and enjoy watching people walk by with their kids and dogs … something that didn’t happen before COVID-19.
Is God still here through all of this? He is speaking to me loud and clear to embrace my family, neighbors and simple things in life. In fact, my next door neighbors and I now have a 5 pm Sunday night social distance gathering of about 8 of us in the front lawn. We never did this before! God wants me to realize that cooking for my family is a blessing because we have the means to provide for our family. We eat in the dining room 70 percent of the time now because my family IS my greatest company, and why not? God wants me to enjoy watching the families of Canadian Geese on my walks. Oh – and my walks! I have time to take 4 mile walks! I NEED them! I can take a nap if I need to! I learned to cut my husband and son’s hair – and I didn’t totally make a mess of it. In fact, my husband said I did a better job than the hairdresser!
So, my message to you is to choose to see this time as an opportunity. Don’t squander your time away in resentment. Learn new things and go back to the basics and help those who need your help. Eat in the dining room and camp out in the back yard. My family is my greatest gift, and I treasure this time with them …even if there is more laundry and dishes! God is here with us more than ever. Look for the message he has for you and you will find it. When this is all over, you will come out feeling like something positive was possible during such a tragic time. God bless you!

– Alison Zukowski