Quarantining, pandemics, civil unrest, politics, hurricanes and typhoons, 2020 you’re not playing. Like many people, current events and a near-constant onslaught of horrifying information coming at us over this year has left me antsy.
We covered an overview of American History this year in homeschool. We discussed not only what was in the text book, but what was left out. Conclusions were drawn about how our past informs our future. I want to raise people who dig for information from multiple sources, and do not just take the first thing served to them as truth: to be lifelong learners and critical thinkers. As we went through the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement, we looked at the photos of angry mobs of white people screaming at kids who were attending newly-integrated schools. We looked up online information about Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr., watched movies about Ruby Bridges and her family, we read other books. As we researched beyond the text and had very frank discussions, I wondered where my place would be. In Glennon Doyle’s latest book, Untamed, she discusses a very similar conversation:
We looked at pictures of civil rights marches, and we talked about why people march. ‘Someone once said that marching is praying with your feet,’ I told them. Amma pointed to a white woman holding a sign, marching in a sea of black and brown people. Her eyes popped and she said, ‘Mama, Look! Would we have been marching with them? Like her?’ I fixed my mouth to say, ‘Of course. Of course we would have, baby.’ But before I could say it, Tish said, ‘No, Amma. We wouldn’t have been marching with them back then. I mean, we’re not marching now.’– Glennon Doyle, Untamed
When we raise humans, their perspective can punch you in the gut like no other. No filters, they cut right to the point. Conversations like these have left me asking, “What should I be doing?” as a human, AND as a human who has other humans watching her. We continue to read, we continue to make calls to elected and appointed leaders. We have marched, safely and social distanced. We learn. We discuss. We keep learning. We have hard conversations. We listen.
A house can only be disinfected so many times. We have projected and started a planter garden. I’ve played amateur photographer, looking for beautiful. Bikes have been ridden. Dogs have been walked. The minions are learning how to cook, we are hitting the beach, and following the rules of quarantine, wearing masks at the grocery and staying home except for essentials.
I began painting rocks to leave around our neighborhood for kids to find when out on family walks. Not knowing there was a whole bunch of groups online that paint rocks and leave them for others to find and have for years – I found inspiration and glimmers of hope and kindness in these random acts of art. It was fun to leave them early and find out that someone had posted online in our neighborhood page a picture of a smiling child holding a rock Hannah and I had created. I could be creative and spread a little joy. It’s a difficult time in so many ways, but it was something I could do, even if it only made a difference for one person, for one moment.
I took home ec in middle school. My mom knew how to sew and I distinctly remember a My Little Pony kids’ sewing machine on which I made simple Cabbage Patch doll clothes. I made a mask for Eric and I based on the CDC recommended pattern. It was hard and I was more than a little rusty. The first mask I made not only took me 4 hours, but managed to break a needle. It was a circus.
Fast forward some 3 months later, and I’ve found other patterns and ideas. I have a friend in the midwest who is a radiologist working with COVID patients and makes masks for those around her. I was inspired watching her sell them online, not for profit, just to cover the cost of materials and to help her community.
I purchased a Black Lives Matter mask in preparation for a march, the kids loved it and each wanted one so we ordered a couple more. The design and fabric was so soft and seemed easy enough to replicate. Later I would take Hannah for a haircut in which she was wearing her BLM mask. Her hairstylist smiled broadly, “I made that mask! What’s your name?” She remembered it from the orders. We laughed and she asked me about the mask I was wearing (that I had made). I have a feeling we would have hugged had it not been during the middle of a pandemic. You never know how you affect others. The ripples matter.
Insecure, I didn’t think my masks would be good enough to sell, so I offered them for friends and family. As I made more, my confidence grew. My parents and hubby became mask models as I attempted new styles and different elastics.
Posting them in our little community page to start, I was surprised how people seemed to like them, and even ordered more as asked what other fabrics I had on hand. People have donated fabric for more masks. Then a good friend purchased some and posted about them to her circle. 4 more orders came in. Neighbors asked for more. Family and friends in Minnesota, Texas, Georgia, Idaho, California, and Oregon ordered. I was and am humbled, and wondered why it was hitting my heart so hard.
I think in many ways 2020 and the events of this year have been like a bandaid being ripped off wounds old and new. It’s uncovering what has been bubbling up underneath but only now, as our collective constant busy-ness has ground to a halt, is it clear. Our family calls it the Coronoa-coaster of emotions. Some days are super excited and productive, others we are sloths with zero motivation and feel depressed about the state of the world, and every shade in between.
The pictures started rolling in when my people received and were wearing their masks. I hate that we need the masks in the first place. I wish this was not our current situation. My heart breaks for those who are hurting and have lost their livelihoods as they knew them. Education will not be the same, and while in the long run, that may be a good thing, the transition will no doubt be rough.
Yet…I feel connected to my people when I see them wearing something I created for them. Walking through the commissary and spotting one of my masks on a friend’s face is heartwarming. It’s a hug that I cannot give or receive right now and My soul desperately needs those hugs.
Coming across this during a mindless perusal of social media, my niece (aka Hangin’ By A Thread) posted this from a book she is reading that sums it all up quite nicely:
I will keep making masks (At least until I get through this fabric, lol.) as long as people need them. I will continue to paint and hide rocks. I may even start another hobby, who knows?! It’s something – anything – to be useful, and contribute in some small way to helping us all get through this. Together. As Glennon Doyle often writes: “We can do hard things.”