Tell us your first name and a little bit about yourself.
Rachel – I’m a 44 year old single mother, raising my son with my parents in the California town of Oakley. I am currently working as a Special Education teacher with an emergency credential and plan to start my Education Specialist credential program this summer. I also hold a master’s degree in psychology and my interests include spirituality, addiction recovery, authentic self-expression, holistic health, self-care, and more. I am 3 years and 9 months sober from alcohol. My food addiction battle continues. Had it under control for 9 months, then fell off the wagon a year ago. I’m a hardcore Supernatural fan (the TV show) and read Supernatural fan fiction daily.
I am sheltering in place with my 9 year old son and my two retired parents. My son is kind of bouncing off the walls, but overall handling it really well. He chats with his cousin via video chat on Facebook Messenger for Kids and they play Minecraft together. We’ve established a good routine for getting his schoolwork done while I work. My parents are up to the usual stuff they usually do, just in a modified way. For example, my parents attend their spiritual center via Zoom every Sunday.
On a scale of 1-10, how have you been at this whole sheltering thing anyway? 1 means you are essentially carrying on as if nothing is going on. 10 means you’re not leaving your house for any reason and having everything delivered to you. (No judgments here...just curious how people would self-rate.)
I give myself an 8, maybe it’s a 7. I leave the house to go to the grocery store once a week and go to two stores. I used to go way more than this, so this is shift. I occasionally go to Target to pick up an order. I’ve gone to my school twice to get things from my classroom. I take walks in the neighborhood. I occasionally indulge myself and have a chat, from a safe distance, with my neighbor friend. That’s it.
I do, however, let my son play with the neighbor kids. There was two weeks were I didn’t, but now that things have eased a bit, I’ve let him again. But he’s constantly told to not pass items back and forth, not touch the same things, and keep a distance. He’s an only child and he also needs outdoor active time. I really don’t know what to do.
Do you know anyone who has/had covid-19?
Are you able to get out and enjoy nature anywhere near you?
My parents have taken Ethan to Big Break twice and, early on, I went a couple times. I’ve been swamped with work since we returned from Spring Break on March 30th and I caught a case of really bad allergies that manifested as a chronic cough, so I haven’t been out as much and when I do I try to not encounter people, because I don’t want my cough to freak them out.
What kind of self-care habits have you put in place to keep you sane?
Well, at first, and I know better: nada. None. Just lots of binge eating. And I promptly added 15 lbs to the 25 that I was already up since last May #knowyourunhealthycopingmechanisms
So that sucks. I know me, so I was waiting for the click. For my moment of clarity that kind of feels like hitting bottom. It finally came and my head is back on straight and I’ve got my food on lock for the first time in a long time, and reaping all the benefits of peace and pride that I’ve desperately missed.
I’ve also signed up for Gabby Bernstein’s “Meditation Challenge” which starts on Sunday, because I like structure and really want to get back to a regular meditation practice. She annoyingly pretty, perky, and privileged, but I like her teachings and find them really helpful despite all that.
I’m trying to integrate daily yoga—again. Another thing that fell off when I fell off the wagon a year ago.
I did clean my very trashed room (my only space that’s mine) on my birthday (April 26) and that deeply felt like self-care. I took hours attending to all the piles while listening to Janelle Hanchett’s “I’m Just Happy To Be Here” (5-star, definitely recommend). It was good.
If you have kids, how is homeschooling going?
Not bad. He’s insanely resistant and homework has always been a battle, so I guess I was kind of prepared. I set up a check list with what he needs to do each day. The things he can do independently via online apps are bolded, so he knows he needs to do those himself. The rest he does with my mom, while I work, which is great. There’s a fair amount of drama: whining, wailing, resisting. I went back to his daily reinforcement chart and clarified the expectations, so hopefully knowing that Points are on the line will motivate him to stop being such a brat.
What kind of work do you do? Are you able to work from home? How is that going?
I am a Special Education teacher in a classroom for students with extreme behavior challenges. I am extremely lucky to be able to do this from home and still get my regular pay through the end of my contract (June 30th). It’s going pretty well. At first I was worried I wouldn’t keep up, but I am. I love my job and it matters, so I keep showing up and keep moving forward. I do all class Zooms twice a week and meet 1:2 with each family (a parent and their student) each week to focus on a goal related lesson. I have regular meetings with colleagues and also run special education team meetings all from Zoom.
Be honest...you’ve cut your own hair, right?
Of course! But I do that anyway. I haven’t paid for a haircut in years. For my hair at least.
The real challenge was cutting Ethan’s. That was scary! He wouldn’t stop moving. It came out pretty good.
What surprising positive thing has happened because of the time being spent at home/with family?
We haven’t killed each other yet. Does that count? I’m only kind of kidding. I’m genuinely surprised that my mom and I haven’t had a major blow out, but we’re getting along pretty well, which has been the case for around 2 years now.
How are you doing birthdays and other celebrations with all of the restrictions in place?
I mailed my nephew his gift, but he lives 4 hours away, so I would have done that anyway.
There was a parade for the boy next door and we stepped out for that and gave him his gift.
For my birthday we didn’t do anything special.
For Mother’s Day we ordered Melo’s in, for the second time that week, lol.
I sent Amazon gift cards to my son’s teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week.
What changes do you think you will permanently implement after this experience?
My life was already pretty unexciting and now it’s just more so. I really can’t think of any change that will continue.
I signed up for Disney+, I’ll probably keep that. Hamilton is coming!!!!
Yes! I miss going to school and being in the classroom. Also, I was looking forward to attending school in person this summer and now my pre-service program for my credential will be all online, which is a bummer. I want to be able to see people’s faces when I smile and talk to them at the store. I want to go to the movies.
Which TV shows have you been watching and what do you think everyone else should start?
I’m currently watching the second season of Dead To Me.
I really enjoyed the first season of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist these last few weeks.
I’ve also watched a ton of others, like good ole Tiger King, as well as Everything Sucks, Atypical, The Morning Show, The Mandalorian, and rewatched Firefly with the kiddo. He and I are currently watching Parks & Recreation and The Office (he’s only 9, but he loves the humor and I’m not worried about the semi-inappropriate stuff, he handles it)
Right now, I would recommend something light, but thoughtful, like The Good Place, if you haven’t watched it yet. Another fun escape is Superstore.
My all-time favorite show is Supernatural. I will never not recommend this. Anxiously awaiting the last 7 episodes, which are on hold due to the current crisis.
What are you happy to leave behind in the “old world?”
Having my classroom trashed by students when they spin out of control and waking at 5:40 a.m. for work.
What can you appreciate most about the “new world?”
Less rushing and less expectation, fewer demands. I can just focus on what I think is important and necessary in my daily life. A lot is out of my hands and that’s rather freeing.
What is the first thing you’re going to do when the shelter-in-place is lifted?
Go to the Oakland Zoo. We have a membership and we miss it so much. We signed up for the online live, behind the scenes, zoo show and it’s been great, but we really miss being there in person.
My sister, but she lives 4 hours away, so I don’t see her enough anyway. I actually “see” her more, because we’ll sometimes talk when the boys are connected via video chat.
Second, my students and all the kids at school. I’m very happy to see kids when I go for a walk.
What song would best represent the time you’ve spent at home?
For this time in general, I always come back to Doom Days by Bastille. So good.
For the time at home itself, I can’t really think of anything; though maybe Doom Days applies there as well.
What significant impact, if any, will the virus have on your plans for this year?
My plan is to go back to school to get my special education credential as an intern. Due to the virus the third test I need to pass keeps getting rescheduled. I need to pass it by September 30 (and it takes 4-6 weeks to get results, so I need to take it by mid-August to be safe). Ideally I would have it passed before my job starts at the end of July (if I get a job). Everything is kind of up in the air, but I just keep moving forward and hoping for the best.
Other than that, everything is pretty much the same.
We had to cancel our vacation in March to Monterey and I don’t know when we’ll be able to reschedule given both the virus and my upcoming school and work schedule. It is what it is.
In a fantasy world where the virus doesn’t exist and money isn’t an issue, where is your dream vacation destination?
Ugh, that’s way too hard. I’d love to do the full Disneyworld experience, never been. But Hawaii, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, and Manchu Pichu are also high on the list. Or just a basic Disneyland vacation, which is beyond my financial reach right now and I really want Ethan to go before he leaves his childhood behind.