Last October, we moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to Seattle. My company acquired a business and I was offered the opportunity to lead the Seattle office. We packed up two kids, basic necessities, one car, and moved across the country with just a few weeks notice. Six months later, Washington state became a COVID-19 hotspot. We’ve been working from home since March 3 and under a stay at home order since March 23.
Only, we’re not actually home. Home to us means North Carolina. We barely had time establish ourselves in Seattle when the pandemic hit.
My husband, two sons and I are sheltered in a rental home. Our family and friends are 2,000 miles away. We still own our Charlotte home, so most of our belongings are there too. We don’t even have a Chick-fil-a nearby. Talk about roughing it.
Sheltering in a place away from our true home has been equal parts terrible and wonderful.
In the beginning, we thought this was temporary. I quickly transitioned my office to work from home. I figured it would last a week or two. We pulled the kids out of daycare to be extra cautious. It felt like a spring break. It was actually nice to get out of the rat race for a while. We took walks in the mornings, the kids colored while I took conference calls. I had time to cook meals again. I bought a Peloton (I exercise now – shocker).
But, then it never ended. Days turned into weeks, then months. The feeling of vacation turned into a feeling of desperation. During a time where my company needed my best, so did my kids. Work and life were happening at the same time. Balance disappeared. My husband and I split shifts just to get anything done. I attempted to play school teacher. I tried to keep my almost kindergartener on track with reading and writing. I created sorting activities for our two year old. Despite my best efforts, succeeding at work and home became impossible. At the lowest point, I put the kids in time out so I could take a call. There were tears, arguments, resentment and a feeling of intense guilt for putting my family in this situation. I moved us out here for MY opportunity, but it became hell for ALL of us.
We considered packing up and heading home. If it wasn’t for air travel, we would have. Out of desperation, I turned to my leaders for support and presented them with two options: we get the hell out of here, or find childcare. I can’t tell you the feeling of relief when they said: “Do what is best for your family. We support you.”
We changed our childcare arrangement and got outside help. So far, it’s working.
But for all of the terrible moments, there have been wonderful moments too. While we’ve craved the comfort of home, we’ve filled the void with adventure. When we do leave the house, it’s to explore something we’ve never seen before (safely). It’s sad that it takes a pandemic to realize all the wonderful things you would never experience if you never slowed down…
Like a hidden beach with the perfect view of Mt. Ranier.
Cherry blossom lined streets in Magnolia.
Or, the park across the street overlooking the Puget Sound.
Acres of tulip fields in Skagit Valley.
Snow at Snoqualmie Pass.
For every moment I’ve wished we were home, there have been others filled with joy watching my children experience a new world.
Yes, we would have had help in Charlotte. Grandmas, grandpas, uncles and aunts – all could have given us temporary relief. We would have had a backyard, instead of our city strip of grass. We would have had our doctors if anything went wrong. We would have had more space, more comforts of home and frankly more sanity. Also Chick-fil-a.
But we wouldn’t have had adventure. We wouldn’t have had the bond that comes from going through something really, really hard with just your family. We wouldn’t have seen the Pacific Northwest. We wouldn’t have made wonderful memories that we’ll take with us forever.
I won’t go so far as to say “I wouldn’t change a thing.” If you would have told me our move to Seattle would include a pandemic quarantine, I DEFINITELY would have changed my mind. But, I’m glad we are here.
I’ll never forget our “stay at home” time, and how it has forever changed our definition of what home is really about.